One of four Lenawee County townships being sized up for use as a possible utility-scale wind farm has surprised its would-be developer by adopting a one-year moratorium on the installation of the towering machines.
Fairfield Township board members passed the moratorium by a 5-0 vote Monday night.
And, at a special zoning board of appeals meeting at 7 p.m. today, officials are to decide whether to order the would-be developer, Orisol Energy US Inc., to take down its 262-foot meteorological tower on the grounds it violates the 35-foot height cap established by township zoning laws.
The meteorological tower is used to collect data about atmospheric conditions. Supervisor Curt Emmons said it was erected without authorization.
The township’s governing board approved the moratorium to give its planning commission a year to adopt an ordinance governing wind turbines, Mr. Emmons said.
“Everything is so new. We’re taking it slow,” he said.
Cliff Williams, Orisol’s North American Operations director, said Tuesday he was surprised to learn of the moratorium.
“I had no idea they were even considering it,” he said. “The people we’ve been talking to so far have been supportive.”
The township is within its right to pass a moratorium because Orisol, the most recent developer to express an interest in southeastern Lenawee County, is still in its exploratory phase, Mr. Williams said.
“We don’t have a power purchase agreement with a utility yet,” he said.
Orisol and two other developers – Juwi Wind LLC and Great Lakes Wind LLC – have been negotiating with landowners to erect some 200 wind turbines in Lenawee County’s Fairfield, Riga, Ogden, and Palmyra, townships, all near the Ohio state line. One model under consideration stands 493 feet tall, 80 feet taller than downtown Toledo’s highest building and 25 percent taller than the four turbines American Municipal Power installed in the Wood County landfill southwest of Bowling Green in 2003 and 2004.
Each would generate 2 megawatts of power, meaning that 200 of them would produce about 400 megawatts or less than half the 905 megawatts of electricity produced by FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Oak Harbor at full capacity. A single megawatt produces roughly the equivalent of what 1,000 homes use during the spring, fall, and winter.
Southeastern Lenawee County is one of two sites within an hour’s drive of Toledo where large wind farms are being contemplated.
Plans also are under way to erect as many as 535 utility-scale wind turbines in western Ohio, near the Indiana state line. According to the Ohio Power Siting Board, those projects are at various stages of development in Paulding, Van Wert, and Hardin counties.
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