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Wind farm concerns are voiced

SHELBY – It was standing room only at Shelby High School on Thursday when the Ohio Power Siting Board hosted a public hearing on a permit application for the Black Fork Wind Project’s construction in Richland and Crawford counties.

Judy Lawrence, 967 Highland Ave., Galion, said she was concerned about possible health issues that could be generated by the turbines, citing a doctor’s study that reported sleep problems, headaches, dizziness, unsteadiness, anger, depression and panic attacks increase for people near the turning blades.

“There are some people who are sensitive to the low-frequency vibrations put out by the turbines,” she said.

Gary A. Cole, 7350 Ohio 96, west of Shelby, said he won’t have any proposed turbines on his property, but will be able to see several from his house.

“I have looked at this project objectively while conducting my own research,” Cole said, noting visits to other wind farms have turned up evidence that the newer turbines are quiet. “$9,000 per megawatt per year translates to $1.2 million annually to Crawford County. It is my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.”

James Davis, 6675 Champion Road, said he traveled to Indiana to see a wind farm and talk to the people there. He noted their main concern had been the changing infrastructure.

“Those turbines are too close to the houses,” Davis said. “I live in a quiet, rural community that’s now going to be invaded by giant towers with large, moving parts. It’s changing our serenity and our landscape forever. I also believe wind is one of the most expensive and unreliable energy sources there is. Let’s just use natural gas – I hear there’s a lot of it here.”

Fred Cooke, president of the Richland County Farm Bureau, 6845 Kuhn Road, said none of his 500 acres will support a turbine, but he and his wife are in favor of the project.

“I first heard about the project five years ago and visited Bowling Green’s turbines,” he said. “I was surprised how quiet they were, and we stood right under them. I started to hear stories about them, so my wife and I traveled to Chalmers, Indiana, and started asking questions.

“We talked about road repair. The residents there said the roads were in better condition after than before the project. We visited a diner, a gas station and a school that were situated within that wind farm. They said once they got used to seeing them, they didn’t even notice them anymore. My position has been to do my own research rather than just listen to hearsay.

“My determination is that the turbines are not a nuisance, but a benefit.”

The Ohio Power Siting Board will consider Thursday’s comments in deciding whether Element Power will be granted permits needed to construct the 91-turbine wind energy farm.