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April 24, 2024

Windfall turns into Wind FAIL for Champaign County Taxpayers –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On October 10, 2016

InvEnergy claimed they were going to be “good neighbors” and bring lots of jobs and income to Champaign and Vermilion County when they constructed the so-called “California Ridge (CalRidge) Wind Farm.”  It appears they have broken another promise by failing to pay taxes on their wind turbines.  Instead of the “windfall,” we are seeing yet another “wind FAIL.” – as in failing to pay their property taxes on time…

When InvEnergy’s representatives first arrived to East Central Illinois and asked our leaders to approve their wind turbine project, they bragged about how they are different than other wind farm developers who show up, develop a project, and then sell the wind farm to “outsiders.”  InvEnergy, which is based in Chicago, Illinois, said they were going to keep and own and maintain this wind farm for many years and be a part of this community.  These promises were made in 2009.

In 2012, the CalRidge project was constructed.

In 2013, the local citizens complained about relentless noise inside their homes, and one Vermilion County family subsequently abandoned their home and moved into a doublewide trailer 8 miles away.  Ted Hartke’s home was listed for sale and remained on the market (at a reduced price) for 2.5 years.  Hartke became motivated to keep this from happening to other communities, and after his visit to warn citizens in Livingston County Illinois and Sanilac County Michigan, those local voters and decision makers rejected InvEnergy’s projects, voting them down and keeping their land free of the wind turbine problems.

On July 17, 2015, the Livingston County Board rejected InvEnergy’s so-called “Pleasant Ridge Farm.”

On Dec 16, 2015, InvEnergy sold 90% ownership of CalRidge to a “YieldCo” of SunEdison by the name of TerraForm Power.

On March 8th, 2016, Argyle Township voters rejected InvEnergy’s “Sanilac Wind Energy Center” by disapproving the proposed setback and other turbine siting rules for the 500′ tall wind turbines.

Just over a month later, On April 21, 2016, SunEdison filed for Bankruptcy.

Even the shareholders of SunEdison are getting screwed.  On August 12, 2016:  This article came out:

Shareholders won’t get an official voice in the bankruptcy of SunEdison Inc. because the company is “hopelessly insolvent,” with debts outweighing assets by at least $1 billion, a bankruptcy judge has ruled.

At this point, it appears that Livingston County, Argyle Township in Sanilac County, and other surrounding towns appear to be full of really smart people who were informed enough to avoid another InvEnergy fallout.

On October 7th, those wise communities were, once again, complimented on their decision to reject InvEnergy because California Ridge Wind Energy is late on paying real estate taxes on different properties in the amount of $37,393.35 as follows (newspaper list of late tax payments here):

Champaign County Parcel Tax ID #17-18-05-200-007 = $18,480.40
Champaign County Parcel Tax ID # 17-18-06-100-002 = $432.55
Champaign County Parcel Tax ID # 17-18-06-300-007 = $18,480.40

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Failure to pay the taxes this year may be just a tip of the iceburg for this InvEnergy project.  It may have serious finance and ownership problems soon.

TerraForm Power, which owns 90% of CalRidge, does not have any employees, no offices, and no “support staff” on the payroll of TerraForm Power.  TerraForm Power is a “YieldCo” of SunEdison.  SunEdison is a now-bankrupt company which is trying to sell both YieldCo companies, TerraForm Power and TerraGlobal Power.  TerraForm and TerraGlobal stock prices have tanked and have not made much of a recovery since SunEdison filed for bankruptcy protection.

Currently, a Chinese company, Golden Concord, is looking to become partners with InvEnergy on the CalRidge project.  Golden Concord is interested in purchasing controlling interest in TerraForm Power.

It is disappointing that community leaders supported wind energy and InvEnergy projects.  They seem to be really stupid investments, and the companies who develop and own these projects commonly screw up, go bankrupt, and leave the locals stuck with cleaning up messes.  It would be wise for communities to stay alert and aware of the issues which follow InvEnergy’s projects.

InvEnergy has cause residents noise/health problems in Fond du Lac Wisconsin:

InvEnergy is currently attempting to force themselves upon two communities where local leaders and citizens have voted them down:

Burrillville Pennsylvania:

Dutton/Dunwich Ontario:

Livingston County Illinois:

InvEnergy threatens “lawsuit bond/sanctions” against citizens:

InvEnergy and their consultants “manipulated reporting of sound test data”:

These are indications that InvEnergy will probably not be a good neighbor…….forcing themselves onto communities and even forcing their noise inside the bedrooms of nearby residents causing sleep deprivation health impacts plays out on numerous occasions.  InvEnergy seems to be one of these really bad companies who takes what they can get and then takes more from their unwilling hosts. InvEnergy may be the “ultimate manipulator.”
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  • jannie
    Posted at 07:33h, 15 October

    It’s interesting that wind companies when trying to buy their way into communities tout the amount of taxes we’ll receive. These companies also receive a huge amount of taxpayer subsidies.
    Communites were wowed by companies who promised big bucks, but the community leaders never researched beyond what the wind company provided.

  • Jim
    Posted at 10:50h, 09 November

    Poor Hartke 🙁