Storms Blamed for Broken Illinois Wind Turbines

DANVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The company that operates an eastern Illinois wind-energy farm where two blades recently broke off a turbine near a school says last month’s severe storms may be to blame.  

Invenergy says the 159-foot blades broke off the turbine north of Oakwood and near Oakwood Junior High on the night of November 20th, three days after powerful storms tore across Illinois. Oakwood is about 30 miles east of Champaign. The company tells The News-Gazette in Champaign that the storms may have been damaged by the November 17th storms.

No one was injured by the falling blades. Continue Reading

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Frigid Weather Makes for Slow Towboat Salvage

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Salvage operations for a sunken towboat on the Mississippi River at LeClaire have been slowed as workers cope with below-freezing temperatures expected to linger for days.  

The Quad-City Times reports that workers had hoped to raise the bow of the sunken Stephen Colby by Friday, but were unable to do so. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaclyn Young says workers are able to spend only two hours outside before they must be cycled through a warming tent. Divers are only allowed only 30 minutes in the water. A second salvage team arrived Saturday to help float the 144-foot towboat that sank November 25th off the LeClaire levee. Continue Reading

Iowa Ethanol Supporters Testify for EPA

Politicians and farmers from Iowa were among those to testify Thursday before the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D-C over the agency’s proposal to cut the amount of ethanol required to be mixed with fuel by three-BILLION gallons. Mark Wigans, a livestock producer from Renwick, spoke with Radio Iowa from the capital after testifying and says he tried to stress the economic impact of ethanol production that he says has helped keep unemployment in western Iowa low.   He was not asked anything beyond the statement he gave E-P-A officials. Mark Leonard raises cattle and is also a banker in Holstein. Leonard says those who testified did a good job of presenting the facts for ethanol.  Rick Hansen, a cattle feeder and crop farmer from Hinton says he also stressed the economic impact of the ethanol industry.  Hansen believes opponents believe the ethanol benefits only go to those who raise the corn.  Hansen believes supporters made a good case with the E-P-A, but he doesn’t know if it will change their minds. The three men were joined by representatives of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association in Washington for the testimony. Continue Reading

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Now-Popular Iowa Whiskey Fills 1-Millionth Bottle

The end of prohibition was celebrated by over 50 people yesterday (Wednesday) in Templeton at the headquarters for Templeton Rye. Templeton Rye Whiskey became a popular drink at speakeasies during prohibition, and was revived in 2003. During the celebration on the 80th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition, the one millionth bottle was labeled by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. The governor complimented co-founders Keith Kerkhoff and Scott Bush and the entire Carroll County community for Templeton Rye’s success. The granddaughter of Al Capone has been used to promote the prohibition era whiskey, and Branstad says the Templeton site has the potential to become are real tourist attraction for Iowa. Continue Reading

Wind Energy PTC in Danger of Expiring…Again

Officials in Iowa’s wind energy industry are concerned the federal government still hasn’t extended the Production Tax Credit — or P-T-C — for wind projects. Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, says Senate leaders haven’t included the P-T-C in markup legislation, and that’s a worry since time is running out and Congress is weighed down by other matters like the Farm Bill.   Prior says he’s hoping a construction provision in the current Production Tax Credit will buy them time to push into next year for renewing the credit. Prior says he’s also hearing rumblings about replacing the production tax credit with a limited partnership type of program used by the oil and gas industry. He says while that might work for smaller wind projects, larger ventures don’t favor it. Continue Reading

Fog Not the Only Problem with E. Iowa Air

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Department of Natural Resources warned that fine particle pollution across east-central Iowa could be harmful to people with certain health conditions. The DNR says high levels were found Tuesday morning in Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Davenport, Iowa City, Muscatine and Waterloo. Vehicles and other combustion sources emit fine particles, and stagnant air doesn’t allow the particles to disperse, causing pollution levels to increase. Officials recommend that people in east-central Iowa limit prolonged outdoor activity if they have respiratory problems or heart disease. A cold air mass with westerly winds is expected to enter the area early Wednesday, causing pollution levels to drop. Continue Reading

Blago’s Lawyers Argue for New Trial

CHICAGO (AP) — Rod Blagojevich’s lawyers laid out a final set of arguments in writing before they step before appellate judges next week to argue that the imprisoned ex-governor deserves a new trial. The 33-page filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals repeats arguments made before, including that trial Judge James Zagel displayed bias against Blagojevich. The brief was posted late Monday. The defense and prosecution will get 30 minutes each to deliver oral arguments before a three-judge panel Dec. 13. Continue Reading

Unions Say They’ll Sue to Stop IL Pension Fix

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The fight over how to address Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation pension shortfall is likely to move to the courts following passage of a landmark bill. The Illinois Legislature approved a measure Tuesday to eliminate the state’s $100 billion unfunded pension liability by cutting benefits for workers and retirees. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign it promptly. Public employee unions say they’ll file a lawsuit if the Chicago Democrat signs it. Continue Reading

Winter Weather on the Way; Foggy Here Now

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A wintry storm that heaped snow on the Rockies has pushed east into northern Nebraska and northwest Iowa. The National Weather Service said Wednesday that 10.5 inches of snow has been recorded over 18 hours in Valentine, which sits near the South Dakota state line in northwest Nebraska. To the east in Boyd County, 5.4 inches was recorded in Butte. The National Weather Service says the snow is moving slowly out of the area, but the cold remains. Continue Reading