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State aid could blow turbine into county

State incentives aimed at developing wind energy in Ohio could mean a breath of fresh air for Rock Creek’s plan to erect a electricity-producing turbine in Conneaut.

On Thursday, Gov. Ted Strickland announced $5 million in grants will be available to communities and others who develop wind-based energy programs.

The news gives a boost to a plan John Casalina, Rock Creek administrator, broached many months ago. Casalina sees real merit in erecting a wind turbine on a certain wind-swept property in Conneaut a short distance from Interstate 90.

Electricity created by the turbine could be used to trim utility bills for Rock Creek residents, the plan’s proponents have said. During a presentation many months ago, Conneaut was invited to help finance the project so city residents could reap some of the energy benefits.

The plan could pick up speed, thanks to Strickland’s new wind production and manufacturing incentives program. “I certainly hope so,” Casalina said.

Strickland’s plan would reward large, utility-scale wind projects (more than five megawatts of electricity) as well as smaller community programs (500 kilowatts to five megawatts), according to a statement. Projects approved by the Ohio Department of Development would be paid one cent per kilowatt-hour generated, officials said.

Letters of intent must be received by 3 p.m. April 15, and applications must be at the ODD’s Office of Energy Efficiency by 3 p.m. July 16.

Applications and instructions can be found at www.odod.state.oh.us/cdd/oee/GrantsLoans

Casalina plans to research the incentive program very carefully.

“We’re planning on sending a letter to the ODD,” he said. “A couple of wind studies and we’ll be set.”

Rock Creek is studying two possible sites on or near Markko Vineyard on South Ridge Road in Conneaut near the Kingsville Township line, Casalina said.

Strickland’s announcement dovetailed with a Cuyahoga County task force’s recent recommendation that wind turbines and a wind energy research center be constructed on Lake Erie. As envisioned by the task force, the turbines would stand more than 300 feet and produce as much as 20 megawatts of electricity.

Casalina is pleased with the attention now being paid wind energy projects. “It’s taken a long time to realize our wind potential,” he said.

By Mark Todd
Staff Writer
Star Beacon