WARREN – The city could become a pioneer in wind-powered energy if a test site for a wind turbine proves favorable.
The West Warren Industrial Partnership, a public-private economic development partnership, began construction Monday on a 200-foot-tall wind-testing tower at Austin Village Plaza on West Market Street. It will be built in the plaza’s northwest parking lot, and construction should be complete on Wednesday.
The meteorology tower – known as an MET tower and smaller than a full-blown wind turbine tower – will test wind velocities for one year. If the results show that a wind turbine is feasible, plans would be made to construct an energy-generating tower, officials said.
West Warren Industrial Partnership is one of three entities to receive a competitive grant through the Ohio Anemometer Loan Program. The other two are the cities of Greenfield and Solon.
The cost to install the MET tower and conduct the study is estimated at between $55,000 and $60,000. West Warren Industrial Partnership had to provide $7,500 in matching funds to secure the grant.
Odell Coleman of Coleman Wick, a consultant on the project, said those involved are hoping a wind-power installation will provide clean energy to businesses near the tower and encourage other “green energy” projects in the Mahoning Valley. One business located within a block of the Austin Village Plaza is Reinforcement Systems of Ohio LLC, a company owned by Warren native Mark Marvin.
Participants in the Warren wind power project are West Warren Industrial Partnership, comprised of several government and business entities in northeast Ohio, and Green Energy Ohio, a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies in Ohio.
The Austin Village Plaza, 2874 W. Market St., is owned by Joseph Shafran, who requested a zoning variance for the tower in October because local zoning rules do not designate a meteorological tower as an approved special use. The variance was approved.
When the variance first was discussed, Councilman Eddie Colbert, D-7th Ward, said the one-year testing period would give the city time to put together legislation and zoning regulations on wind turbines and other renewable energy sources. So far, no public discussion on those regulations has been held.
Councilman John Brown, D-3rd Ward, previously questioned if there was enough space at the plaza to build a wind turbine if the test proves favorable. He suggested using Deemer Park or another city-owned park to house the devices and then lease the property to interested parties.
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