Oregon City Schools cleared the first permit hurdle in its quest to put six midsize wind turbines at three schools, a proposed $7.3 million two-phase project that will boost educational research and help meet electricity needs.
A special-use exemption permit for two 750-kilowatt turbines at Clay High School was unanimously approved last week by Oregon City Council after nearly two hours of testimony from proponents and opponents, who primarily were concerned with their affect on migratory birds.
Clay already has a small-scale wind turbine with which students do research, and the two additional turbines at nearly 300 feet each will power 90 percent to 100 percent of the campus.
On Dec. 20, Oregon City Council will consider the school district’s request for a special use exemption permit to put two 100-kilowatt turbines at Coy Elementary that would be about 150 feet each.
The district is partnering with SUREnergy of Sandusky, which is gathering investors and applying for government funding.
Jerusalem Township will have to grant permission to construct two 100-kilowatt turbines at Eisenhower Middle School, but likely that will come to pass, said Joseph W. Kiss, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees.
“I think there is not going to be a problem with Eisenhower getting them,” Mr. Kiss said.
Jerusalem Township already has at least a half dozen small-scale or midsize turbines, and there have been no issues with bird kills, Mr. Kiss said.
Opponents of the Clay turbines last week, most of whom were from the Black Swamp Bird Observatory near Oak Harbor, said they were concerned both with bird kills and the possibility of migratory birds changing their flight patterns to avoid them.
The observatory had asked for a three-year moratorium on turbines taller than 100 feet to do radar studies to better understand how migratory birds descend to the Lake Erie marsh region.
“It’s a foot in the door for other companies to come in and install these turbines,” said Kim Kaufman, the observatory’s executive director. “We’re not saying ‘no,’ we’re just saying ‘not yet.’•”
Various other local communities have taken up the subject of wind turbines, an alternative energy source that takes advantage of abundant wind on Maumee Bay’s shore.
Rossford, for example, amended its zoning code earlier this year primarily to allow a 100-kilowatt wind turbine at the Toledo Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee facility on Lime City Road.
The committee received a $420,000 federal grant to construct the 155-foot tall wind turbine, which will be used both to train workers for working on them and generate some power for the training center, said David Wellington, training director.
The turbine is expected to be constructed this month, Mr. Wellington said. The training center already has a 60-foot climbing silo, where workers practice fall protection and other techniques, he said.
Northwood last year adopted a zoning regulation for wind turbines and may consider changes for other alternative energy devices, such as solar installations.
Residential turbines cannot be taller than 40 feet, although all residential, commercial, and industrial applications have to get approval from the Northwood Planning Commission, said Kimberly Grames, Northwood’s planning, zoning, and economic development coordinator.
At 6 p.m. Dec. 13, Northwood Planning Commission will consider a request from the Ohio Department of Transportation to put a 98-foot turbine at its office on Lemoyne Road.
Genoa is in the process of revising its zoning code to deal with wind turbines, although the village has not yet received any requests, said Garth Reynolds, administrator.
“We think it will be coming,” Mr. Reynolds said.
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