Logan County is home to the highest point in Ohio, so maybe it was just a matter of time before someone realized it is windy there.
And maybe it was just a matter of time before someone decided to build giant turbines to convert that wind to energy.
At least one power company says it aims to put up at least 20 turbines there. That many turbines would dwarf the only wind farm in Ohio, and some local landowners are saying, “Go away.”
The critics say wind farms aren’t green enough and don’t really help reduce reliance on other forms of power.
“Wind energy’s contribution to a power grid is insignificant and unreliable at best,” said Tom Stacy, who lives in one of three townships – Monroe, Jefferson and Rushcreek – where companies are said to be courting landowners.
He said the negatives outweigh any positives.
The turbines are big enough that the blades intermittently block the sun and create what’s known as “shadow flicker.” Stacy likened the effect to a strobe light. He also said the rotating blades are loud, and that the scenic landscape would be ruined by the turbines, which can be as tall as 400 feet.
Stacy said his group isn’t just a bunch of “not in my backyard” types.
“We’re not NIMBYS,” he said. “We’re NIMS: not in my state.”
He said companies build the towers only to benefit from renewable-energy tax credits.
Nearly 100 people showed up at a meeting Tuesday afternoon in Logan County’s Jefferson Township Hall to try to convince township trustees and interested landowners that the farms are a bad idea. Another meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Rushcreek Fire Department, 108 S. Sandusky St., in Rushsylvania.
But it might be too late.
Austin Hacker, who represents a power company that he wouldn’t name, said he has signed deals with “a handful of people” to lease land. He works for Babcock & Brown, an investment firm based in California and Australia.
“It’s going to happen,” Hacker said. “We’re going to build.”
He would not say where.
At least four other energy companies are shopping contracts for turbines in Champaign and Logan counties in western Ohio, he said.
Between 2000 and 2005, the number of wind farms in the United States increased by 160 percent, yet the amount of the nation’s energy they supply is estimated at less than 1 percent.
The only wind farm in Ohio is in Wood County, near Bowling Green. The four, 30,000-pound turbines generate “green” energy from a public field.
Hacker said the only complaint with merit is the “shadow flicker.” It happens only in spots close to the turbines, and he said township zoning likely will prevent any wind farm from being within 450 to 600 feet of any existing structure or road.
Harold Mobley, president of the Rushcreek Township trustees, said that when the idea of a local wind farm surfaced in 2002, he thought it was a good idea.
Now, he’s undecided. He and his family looked around the Bowling Green wind farm last weekend.
“It didn’t seem bad to me, but I’m hearing lots of problems from lots of sources,” he said. “We need to sort it all out.”
He said the townships are reviewing zoning regulations and likely will consult with the prosecutor and county commissioners to see what level of control they have.
By Holly Zachariah
The Columbus Dispatch
4 March 2007
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