County officials discuss transport plan for turbines
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Logan County officials have begun looking ahead to some of the technical details that could arise if or when wind turbines begin to arrive in the area.
The discussion came up during Thursday’s Logan County Commissioners session in which Engineer Scott Coleman and Prosecutor Gerald Heaton discussed whether county or township roads can handle large trucks bearing massive wind turbine components and what legal issues the county should be prepared for on the front end.
Mr. Coleman said he has spoken to representatives of Babcock and Brown, the wind development company that has the majority of leases in Logan County and is planning to develop two sites around Pickrelltown and near the intersection of state routes 540 and 533.
A wind farm, which is expected to be between 100 megawatts and 150 megawatts, is likely two years from reaching the construction phase.
“It’s going to be a ways down the line before semis actually hit the road,” Mr. Coleman said.
“But it doesn’t hurt to do a little planning so we are prepared,” Commissioner David Knight added.
The discussion centered largely on whether the roads to access the sites, including the turn radii and grades at the top of hills, would be adequate to handle the trucks, which can be up to 162 feet long.
Roger Brown, a leaseholder who has been handling a number of issues locally for the wind company, said in a telephone call after the meeting that company officials have determined at least one hill and one set of curves along S.R. 540 will likely have to be reworked to accommodate the trucks, although those issues would be handled by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“Babcock and Brown is a professional outfit and they are doing a lot of this in advance,” Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Coleman discussed ways to monitor the roads as trucks come in and to charge fees at an hourly rate as part of the permit to use the roads. He roughly estimated that each turbine, which is transported in about seven separate truckloads, would require 56 labor hours to monitor and an additional eight hours to assess damages afterward. That is in addition to an estimated 92 hours of up front planning.
They also discussed ways to make sure Babcock and Brown would be held accountable if damages do occur to roads and bridges.
Mr. Heaton suggested requiring a significant bond that would cover the company’s liability.
In addition to the impact on roads, the officials discussed whether it would be necessary to hire a consultant, possibly through the Logan-Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission, to assist township zoning officials, who are parttime employees in reviewing permit applications, which will likely be voluminous documents, Mr. Coleman said.
“For some things, we are going to have to have specialists come in,” he said.
Commissioners said although they have a minimal role in determining whether wind companies will locate in the county, they scheduled the meeting to stay abreast of the controversial issue.
“We thought the topic was pertinent and relevant to our community and thought we should have a discussion about what – if anything – the county should be doing in reference to this project,” Mr. Knight said.
By Reuben Mees
Examiner Staff Write
2 May 2008
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