County backs dual plans for hydropower

Company pursuing projects at Dresden Island, Brandon Road

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 8:13 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 8:15 a.m. CDT

The generation of power at the Dresden Island and Brandon Road dam sites is a concept Grundy County can get behind.

In fact, with a unanimous vote Tuesday evening, during a brief regular meeting, the county board did just that. With Jeremy Ly absent, the board unanimously approved a statement of support for projects Northern Illinois Hydropower has proposed at each location.

“Based upon our appraisal of these materials, and by signing this letter, we hereby provide our support to both the Dresden Island and the Brandon Road hydroelectric projects,” the statement of support read. “While opportunities like those presented by these projects may be rare, it is our belief that they represent the type that will benefit all interested parties and, most importantly, the people of the state of Illinois.”

The board authorized the signing of the statement with no discussion Tuesday, so no details of the project were presented during the meeting. The statement, however, points out that Northern Illinois Hydropower, which is based in Joliet, has been working to obtain approval for these projects since 2006.

It notes that the projects’ benefits to the local economy will be significant, with 75 cents of every dollar spent on the projects being spent locally.

“Moreover,” the statement reads, “building and maintaining these projects will require local workers of all variety and Northern Illinois Hydropower is absolutely committed to working with local unions to find these workers. Once the Dresden Island and Brandon Road projects get off the ground, Northern Illinois Hydropower will need to hire local ironworkers, carpenters, millwrights, electricians, laborers, engineers, lawyers, and bankers, just to name a few.”

It is also noted in the statement that the employment of local workers will create local spending on food, housing, gasoline and a variety of other services.

“Put simply, the impact of these projects on the economy of north-central Illinois cannot be underestimated,” the statement said.

In noting the county’s support for the projects, the statement also discussed the fact the project will not have a negative impact on the environment, and may actually have a positive impact on certain fish species in the Lower Des Plaines and Upper Illinois rivers.

It is anticipated the projects will generate clean energy for up to 13,000 homes.

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