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April 11, 2010

Evanston, Illinois, to vote on offshore wind farm RFI

We're all familiar with NIMBYs. Well, the City of Evanston, Illinois, has a YIMBY group. Citizens for a Greener Evanston (CGE) are not only saying "Yes In My Back Yard" to offshore wind, they're urging the Evanston City Council to put out an RFI inviting developers to come up with proposals for putting in a wind farm in Lake Michigan off the northern shore of Evanston, which is just north of Chicago.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to issue the RFI.

The Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP), accepted by City Council in November 2008, recommends [the City] "Investigate the feasibility of offshore wind power generation in Lake Michigan."

After two years of compiling research, CGE has concluded that the lake shore off of Evanston is a viable site for wind power generation.

A report produced by Northwestern University students in the spring of 2009, "Constructing an Offshore Wind Farm in the Great Lakes," recommends three basic steps for moving forward with this project. The first is for the City or State Government to assume leadership, the second is to issue a Request for Information (RFI). After the RFI is issued and responses are collected, if the City was still interested in moving forward, it would then issue the RFP. The RFP would be followed by the final step, the selection of a developer to implement the project.

A proposed site has been identified that has an area of approximately 1.5 square nautical miles and is located approximately 6?9 miles off the Evanston shore. This location is directly east of the center of Northwestern University (see map below). Annual average wind speeds within the proposed area are expected to exceed 8 m/s at a height of 65m above the water. Water depths range from approximately 13 m to 30 m.

According to the draft RFI, it is anticipated that the developer(s) would assume all responsibility for siting, permitting, constructing, operating and maintaining the offshore wind energy facility, including the interconnection to an onshore receiver station, and would assume all development, construction and operating risks associated with the project.

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