For the first time since talk of wind turbine development began in West Central Ohio several years ago, residents of Logan and Champaign counties got to see a close visual representation of the controversial structures.
The designs, which included a map showing 78 proposed turbine locations – 15 in Logan County and the remainder in Champaign – and several photos superimposed with scale wind turbines, gave the 100-plus residents who milled through Everpower Renewables’ open house Tuesday at Triad High School a view of the proposed project.
The 78 locations dotted in red on the map are confirmed sites and several more are expected to be added before the approximately 300 megawatt project is submitted for review by the Ohio Power Siting Board, likely within the month, senior vice-president Andrew Golembeski said.
“Within about a month we will make application,” he said. “It does require us to have a good idea where the turbines will be located, but a lot of factors shift where the individual turbines might be located. That’s all a part of the micrositing process.”
Micrositing is the final determination by the siting board where individual turbines will be placed.
Visual drawings showed that the 2-2.5-megawatt wind towers set on a wind farm east of Ludlow Road would be visible from West Liberty-Salem Schools, about two miles away. And the prospect that the turbines will be in view for at least 20 to 30 years is not a welcome one for many residents.
“I’m a possible donor of the view from my picture window,” said Glenda Rodriguez, a resident of Union Township in Champaign County.
“It would be nice to have a couple of views from our homes where we wouldn’t see them,” her neighbor Anita Bartlett said. “It worries me that the governor thinks 750-foot setbacks from a home is enough when manufacturers say setbacks should be 1,300 to 1,500 feet.”
The informational meeting was not structured as a formal hearing to accept resident comments, but Mr. Golembeski said input forms filled out, as well as contacts with the two main representatives who live in the area, would be submitted as part of the project.
“We will evaluate each of these on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “We can address concerns at any time by calling our office or the people who live here and are overseeing this project.”
Some of the main areas that will be discussed in the nearly yearlong siting process include proximity to homes, wetlands, the presence of high numbers of birds or bats that could be impacted by the moving rotors and potential noise impacts, Mr. Golembeski said.
While there was no specific data on noise – probably the issue most cited by residents who have resisted wind development to date – there were several other specifics, including the impact on wildlife.
Cara Meinke, a wildlife biologist with Stantec Consulting, said initial studies indicate there should be little impact on large birds. Studies on the effect on smaller songbirds and bats are not complete.
More detailed information on noise and other issues will be included in the several-hundred-page permit that will be submitted to the siting board, Mr. Golembeski said.
While most residents who attended had their minds made up on whether they supported or opposed the development of wind turbines in the area, Logan County resident Mike Stolly said one of the most important things is making sure people who live near turbines are safe.
“We’re not saying no wind turbines at this point. It’s inevitable,” he said. “We just want them at a safe distance. There are some pretty wide open spaces out in the county, so not everyone with a 30- acre property should be able to have one.”
For others, the debate is one of the larger energy crises facing the United States.
“We need to cut our dependence on foreign energy and this is an easy way to do it,” Monroe Township resident Steve Douthwaite said.
By Reuben Mees
Examiner Staff Writer
11 June 2008
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