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Wind farm work gusts forward; City administrators to meet with AMP-Ohio officials about turbines

Harnessing the wind for city based power could be peeking over the horizon, a Wapakoneta city administrator says.

Mayor Rodney Metz told the Wapakoneta Daily News he would like an 18-month wind study “put to use and used to put in some wind turbines.”

Members of Wapakoneta and St. Marys city councils shared the cost of a wind study conducted by members at Green Energy Ohio, a non-profit advocacy group of renewable energy. Green Energy Ohio officials studied wind speeds at the Auglaize County Law Enforcement Center as part of a statewide initiative called the Tall Towers Wind Assessment Initiative. The initiative was funded in part by $110,000 in state and federal grants.

The study concluded winds in the Wapakoneta area would generate nearly the same amount of power as the wind turbines in Bowling Green, which generate approximately 1.5 megawatts daily from each of four turbines.

Metz said if wind turbines are constructed near or within the city limits that he would like them to be owned by the city.

“I would rather, because we are a public power or municipal electric power, have the units in our possession or owned through a joint venture,” Metz said, referring to a cooperative effort with other municipalities.

The mayor said the timing of being able to use a turbine built by a company within Auglaize County seems to be coinciding with the timing of when plans for a set of wind towers could be constructed.

“As far as timing goes for the city versus the timing company officials may come together just because of the time needed to go through the process with the amount of time to do energy work,” Metz said. “It is one thing to have the turbine designed and built, but it is another thing to have the electric power grid and the necessary equipment designed and in place for the wind farm.”

The mayor said work on upgrading the city’s electric system and substations will help with the process, but the work is being done to better serve the city’s electric consumers.

Safety-Service Rex Katterheinrich and Metz are continuing to look for state and federal grants to help with the construction of wind turbines if in the future Wapakoneta City Council members approve moving in that direction.

Katterheinrich told the Wapakoneta Daily News for an earlier story that residents need to understand “because something is a green energy source does not mean lower electric rates.”

Katterheinrich and Metz also revealed they are working on scheduling a meeting with American Municipal Power-Ohio (AMP-Ohio) within the next two weeks to discuss wind power and a wind farm.

“We are moving to the point of more advanced planning,” Katterheinrich said regarding the construction of wind turbine near the city of Wapakoneta.

The earliest delivery of a wind turbine would be 18 months because of the backlog of orders to be filled by companies.

Katterheinrich said the wind study is accessible to wind energy consultants and developers through the city offices, AMP-Ohio and Green Energy Ohio.

“I have been told the larger interests in other states are getting the attention of the major manufacturers because there is such a large demand in those areas,” Katterheinrich said.

Interest is growing in Ohio since state legislators and Gov. Ted Strickland passed a new law on energy which requires investor-owned utilities to obtain at least 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The companies are required to generate half that power from sources in the state.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is working on specifics regarding the implementation of the law.

Consultants looking at Ohio include Chicago-based Invenergy, New York-based Everpower Renewables Corp. and Texas-based Babcock & Brown as well as Iberdrola Renewables of Spain, juwi Gmbh and E.On Climate & Renewables fo Germany, according to article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

FPL Energy, the largest wind energy developer in the United States, is not active in Ohio but has windfarms in Texas, California and the upper Midwest with new projects in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and is looking at projects in the Buckeye State.

By William Laney
Managing Editor

Wapakoneta Daily News

20 May 2008