The city council of Evanston, Illinois voted to issue the RFI for a wind project on Lake Michigan. The council expects to issue the RFI in about a week.
Council spokesman Eric Palmer said the RFI will seek to answer basic questions such as the potential size of the project, development obstacles and what role the city might play.
The council is encouraging both developers and utilities to respond. Palmer said the council did not have a single power purchaser in mind, but that the City of Evanston Water Department could benefit from the project. "I learned yesterday that one turbine would supply our water plant for a year," Palmer said.
Information collected through the RFI will then go back to the council. "They would be the ones that dictate to us what our role would be - and [vote] yea or nay on doing it to begin with," Palmer said.
If the project passes that vote, the council will then issue a request for proposals (RFP).
Evanston joins a number of other localities exploring the wind potential of the Great Lakes. Last December, the New York Power Authority issued an RFP to gauge developer interest in building 120 MW to 500 MW wind projects on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Earlier this month the Ontario Power Authority awarded a feed-in tariff contract to the 300 MW Wolfe Island Shoals project, the first in Canada to receive a power purchase agreement. Wolfe Island Shoals was just one of over 500 offshore projects applying for the feed-in tariff.
Betting on such developments, Wisconsin-based Energy Composites Corporation (ECC) is planning a factory with yearly output of 2,200 blades up to 65 metres in length.