JEFFERSON – Commissioners are pursuing a deal that would place one or more large wind turbines on county-owned property in Kingsville Township.
The board met Tuesday with representatives of FirstEnergy and Roy Knapp, president of Energy Independents LLC, of Kirtland Hills, which specializes in the financing and facility engineering of alternative-energy projects. Kevin Roberts, of Energy Independents, who
also attended the meeting, told commissioners that wind conditions at the site are about as “good as it gets” in Ohio, according to a study the commissioners had done. Knapp called the site “beautiful properties for wind turbines.”
Commissioners want to know whether it would be possible to install one or more turbines of sufficient generating capacity to power every county building. They hope to use “virtual net metering” by which the county’s utility bills would be reduced by excess capacity generated at the wind site.
Erica Millen, of FirstEnergy, told the board that FirstEnergy does not offer virtual net metering. However, she said the county could become a power generator and the utility could purchase the excess power. In turn, the county could use that income to offset utility costs at the remote sites, including the courthouse complex and Donahoe Center. In addition, the county would have renewable-energy credits that it could sell in the marketplace.
At a minimum, the commissioners would like to generate enough power for the four county-owned properties in the Route 84/ Green Road/ Dibble Road intersection: the nursing home, wastewater treatment plant, Happy Hearts school and Ash/ Craft. However, sharing the power among the contiguous properties would involve the utility, whose engineers would have to look at the connections among the buildings and grid to determine the project’s feasibility. The properties at that site use about 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity, annually.
Millen said the utility also needs to know the address and account number of every county property to which the commissioners want to supply electricity from the project. Once those data are in hand, peak loads and the size of the generator(s) needed can be calculated.
“We would like to work with you guys to find a solution and look at all the options,” Millen told the commissioners.
Following the meeting, Knapp said every wind-energy project is unique, from the engineering to the financing, and it would be difficult to talk specifics of the project now. In general, he favors construction of one large powerful wind-turbine generator rather than several smaller ones. Its height would range from 25 to 40 stories tall, depending upon the size of the generator.
Knapp told commissioners that the project makes good sense from a policy standpoint, given the squeeze county budgets are under. With the county owning one of the best wind sites in the state, it makes even more sense.
During the meeting, Knapp suggested that his company, the utility and county come together and put up four or five 2.5-megawatt generators at the site and “take advantage of what Mother Nature did.” He said doing so would be “good public policy” and could generate revenue for the county. He said many of these public-private projects are coming together along the Lake Erie shore, from Toledo to Buffalo, N.Y.
Commissioners plan to meet with the utility and Knapp in mid-June to continue discussions.
“We’re anxious to see how we can be more energy-efficient and save money,” said Commissioner Peggy Carlo.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding