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Renewed interest in wind energy  

Credit:  By Vicki Johnson - Staff Writer, The Advertiser-Tribune, www.advertiser-tribune.com 19 September 2011 ~~

A 115-turbine wind farm proposed for Seneca and Crawford counties is the topic of a meeting Thursday.

The meeting is planned for 5:30-7 p.m. at Bloomville Community Center. It involves a project called Honey Creek Wind Energy Center proposed by NextEra Energy, based in Juno Beach, Fla.

According to information from the company, up to 115 turbines would be spread across about 14,000 acres in Bloomville and Bloom and Venice townships in Seneca County, and in Lykens and Chatfield townships in Crawford County. The wind farm would have the capacity to generate 185 megawatts of electricity using turbines with a capacity of 1.6 megawatts each.

The company plans to file with the Ohio Power Siting Board later this year, and if approved, construction would be completed by end of the 2012.

Two other projects in or near Seneca County are under consideration, according to the website of TCI Renewables (tcirenew

ables.com).

The international company with U.S. offices in Delaware, has a project listed in Crawford County that proposes 38-65 turbines that would produce 100 megawatts. Another proposal in Seneca and Hancock counties would produce 130 megawatts using 53-88 turbines in a “rural area east of Findlay.”

Other projects also are in the works, according to Dale Arnold, director of energy policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

“You’re seeing a number of companies doing quite a bit of technical development before filing with the siting board,” Arnold said. “Across northwest Ohio there are eight different projects under review in 20 different counties.”

While there was a lot of talk about projects a few years ago, Arnold said interest had died down.

“It’s interesting that we’re seeing a resurgence,” he said.

In addition to Seneca, Crawford and Hancock counties, Arnold said projects are in planning stages in Wyandot, Sandusky and Huron counties as well as many other parts of northwest Ohio.

Several companies are beginning to contact local government entities and property owners about lease agreements.

“It’s amazing how those meetings are starting to pick up,” he said.

Arnold said three positives – from a company’s point of view – come together in Seneca County and northwest Ohio.

“The topography is excellent,” he said. “Gently rolling hills and open farm ground without a large amount of forestry and woodlots and other types of infrastructure development such as cellular towers that would impact wind flow.”

In addition, Arnold said the sparsely populated areas affect fewer people and landowners often are interested in lease negotiations.

Thirdly, he said northwest Ohio has an electric transmission line system already in place with space that makes it convenient for interconnection.

However, Arnold said meetings are just the first step. Companies often look at projects in two or three areas, or different states.

“Just because wind energy developers are looking at a particular site does not mean there will be a project in that area,” he said. “A company will start two or three different projects and then decide which to pursue.”

Arnold said he’s been spending quite a bit of time in northwest Ohio in recent weeks in meetings with farmers, attorneys and government officials.

“Farmers are wanting to the know the latest happenings in wind energy development,” he said.

Farmers are forming negotiating groups and he has been advising attorneys on what to look for in a good lease agreement.

Farmers and government officials are seeking information on economic development opportunities and how they would impact local schools.

“The tax benefits to schools, county and township governments are different now than it was two or three years ago,” he said.

Source:  By Vicki Johnson - Staff Writer, The Advertiser-Tribune, www.advertiser-tribune.com 19 September 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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