An issue that has been drawing controversy – the development of wind energy in Logan County – will not be decided by voters in Tuesday’s election.
Wind-power company officials said they believe they should be able to proceed with plans to erect wind turbines in the next two or three years in the rural countryside.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-1 recently against allowing Jefferson Township voters from deciding whether they want the zoning laws in place to remain in place.
The ruling was based on the legality of the petition submitted to the elections board contesting a recent amendment to the township’s zoning laws, according to court documents.
According to a study conducted by the Ohio Department of Development, Logan County’s landscape is ideal for wind development. The eastern part of the county, as well as regions near Lake Erie, has the most potential in Ohio, according to the study.
One of the major wind-power companies looking to develop in rural Logan County is Babcock and Brown.
Beth O’Brien, a spokeswoman for the company, said they are hoping to develop a 100 to 120 megawatt farm in the Monroe and Jefferson townships area. With each wind turbine generating 2.3 to 2.4 megawatts, that would necessitate 41 to 52 turbines.
O’Brien said one megawatt can power up to 300 homes at any moment.
“Several factors will determine if we will develop,” O’Brien said. “We feel confident this is a good location and we hope to bring a wind farm and its economic benefits to the area.”
Such benefits, she said, include the creation of 100 to 200 local jobs during the construction of the farm and five to 10 permanent jobs.
Construction could begin as early as 2010 or 2011, she said.
“Logan County is definitely a good area, with the highest point in Ohio in Bellefontaine,” O’Brien said.
Susan Reames is among numerous Jefferson Township residents who oppose the development.
“This is not for or against wind energy,” Reames said. “It’s a much broader issue. … The main concern is the health, safety and welfare of all the people in our community.”
Reames said calling them “farms” is deceptive.
“We’re not farming anything here,” she said. “When you’re talking about a 400- or 500-foot machine, you’re talking industry.”
Among opponents’ concerns, she said, is safety and allowing the community to have input, which she said they do not have.
“These are not even a safe distance from home,” she said. “Wind turbine accidents happen around the world.”
Additionally, she said, residents have concerns about noise, shadow flicker from the blades and the danger of the blades coming apart, among other issues.
Landowners seeking to lease their land to wind developers, such as Roger Brown, of Bellefontaine, don’t see it that way.
“I own a family farm where I was born and raised,” Brown said. “The intent is to lease those grounds to place wind turbines.’
Brown said he submitted the zoning resolution accepting wind turbines that was approved in September and challenged by residents who wanted to put it on the ballot.
“Wind turbines are cleaner and it’s renewable electricity,” he said. “They do not pollute. They are in 38 states now and they’ve grown 40 percent in the last two years. … As property owners, we lease the land and get payment for that. We have the contracts in hand.”
Brown said the development would be good for the community, too.
“There is a good tax base in these that will go to the schools,” he said. “Roads will be improved to bring these turbines in. Hopefully, they’ll keep electricity rates at a stable rate.
27 February 2008
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