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Public has two chances to get wind turbine answers  

Credit:  By CYNTHIA AUKERMAN, News-Gazette reporter, www.winchesternewsgazette.com 8 November 2010 ~~

In addition to electricity, wind turbines can generate a lot of questions, concerns and rumors. The public will have two opportunities this month to have questions answered, concerns addressed and the rumors clarified. The first opportunity involves the economic impact of wind turbines that could be coming to Darke County, and the second opportunity is about the two wind turbines in Union City, Ind.

The Union City Community Economic Development Committee (UCCEDC) will host the community gathering at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 10 at Mississinawa Valley High School. The event has been organized in response to the number of wind turbines under development in this region. Economic development experts will speak about the potential impact on both Darke County, Ohio and Randolph County, Ind.

The wind turbines will be located separately on individual pieces of land, as opposed to a wind farm with dozens of turbines all on one farm.

According to Bill Bruggeman, Union City, Ohio Councilman and member of the UCCEDC, some farmers have expressed negative feelings about the wind turbine proposals. At a recent council meeting, he said, “These companies will either build them here and add to our tax base, or they will build them elsewhere.”

Marc Saluk, Darke County’s economic development director and member of the UCCEDC, said, “The goal is to provide a forum for the public to learn more about the potential impact of the wind turbines on the region and to ask questions of wind industry leaders and landowners within each county. It’s all in an effort to foster a community commitment to grow along with the alternative/renewable energy industry.”

At the second meeting, the joint school board/city council meeting, at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 15 at the Randolph Eastern cafetorium, representatives of Nordic WindPower and Performance Services, the builder and oversight companies for the two turbines in Union City, will be present. Both turbines have experienced problems and delays in becoming fully-commissioned. The city’s turbine just came fully online this week.

Union City, Ind. Mayor Bryan Conklin said, “I told the Nordic and Performance Services people to come prepared to handle blunt questions, to answer concerns and address rumors. I warned them to bring enough horsepower.”

Conkin has been open about the problems the two turbines have experienced. He said, “In any pioneering effort, you’re bound to have glitches and hickups along the way. But I can’t say enough good about Nordic and Performance Services.”

The turbines came to town early this year and were scheduled to begin generating electricity soon after they were erected. The city’s turbine immediately developed a problem with its braking mechanism in one tip, a problem that could have been caused by an accident in transit. When forensic study on the removed blade could not pinpoint exactly what caused the problem. Nordic replaced the city’s blade and made adjustments on the school’s turbine.

Meanwhile, Nordic reimbursed the city and the school and Performance Services for the revenue the two turbines would have generated all the months they were undergoing testing and repairs.

Conklin concluded, “It hasn’t gone as smoothly as I would have wished, but Nordic has stepped up to take care of us financially.”

Performance Services has financed the multi-million dollar project, with the city and the school donating land and other services. The school’s staff is also working with a state grant to develop an alternative energy curriculum that will be used state-wide.

About UCCEDC’s involvement in the Darke County wind turbine projects, Conklin said, “The wind turbine projects could mean so much to everybody economically. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Greenville or Union City, Ohio. Everybody benefits.”

For more information, call the Darke county Economic Development Office at 937-548-3250 or Kevin Law, Randolph County economic development director, at 765-584-584-3266.

Source:  By CYNTHIA AUKERMAN, News-Gazette reporter, www.winchesternewsgazette.com 8 November 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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