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Wind farm developers, county discuss potential road damage

BUCYRUS – Road wear was the chief topic Wednesday when the Black Fork Wind Energy project came before Crawford County Commissioners.

During the six- to eight-month project that would encompass 46,000 acres in rural Crawford and Richland counties, the roads in each county will be heavily used. Huge equipment and enormous weight figures to lead to severe road wear and damage.

An agreement under discussion would see to it that Black Fork – a company owned by Element Power – would have financial responsibility to fix roads to at least the conditions that existed before the project.

Officials from Element Power were not concerned.

“In most cases we fix the roads and they are in better condition than they were when the project began,” Element Power’s Scott Hawkens said. “The agreement that we are presenting here today is modeled after other agreements we have had in the state.”

The proposal made its way – along with officials – into a work meeting.

County Prosecutor Stan Flegm said no formal agreement was reached.

“Each party has some homework to do and each party made their concerns known, but we are all working toward the common goal,” Flegm said. “This was the first time we met to negotiate, and we all expressed our opinions. (We) are drafting regulations and permits to be used for the work.”

Element Power said it would like one set of agreements used for all of the counties and townships involved. Flegm said that will make the job easier.

“Richland and Crawford County are working together – we want to accomplish the same thing.”

Dave Stoner, of Black Fork Wind Energy, said his company wants to do the right thing.

“We recognize this is a large project and for counties like these, there are a lot of logistics involved,” Stoner said. “We want to address those concerns, and we want to ensure that our impact on the roads is dealt with. There are still a lot of details to work through.”

There are several steps left before the project is approved. A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at Shelby Senior High School, 109 W. Smiley Ave., Shelby.

From there, the Ohio Power Siting Board will decide whether the project can move forward. From there, the project could begin in October.

The project will produce up to 200 megawatts of energy, and Hawken said 150 property owners have signed on to participate in the project.