March 28, 2012

Groundbreaking law prohibits wind turbines

By Shelley Grieshop, The Daily Standard, 27 March 2012

ST. HENRY – Council members made history Monday night by passing unique legislation that bans wind turbines in town.

The new law, which unanimously passed third reading, prohibits the construction of all types of wind turbines, wind chargers and wind generators. It also outlaws any device, apparatus or structure used to convert kinetic energy from wind to produce electricity.

State officials previously told The Daily Standard no ordinance of this kind has been passed by any municipality in the state of Ohio.

Council members have said they may consider exceptions to the law on a case-by-case basis. However, village administrator Ron Gelhaus said the legislation has a purpose.

“It’s there to protect the people of the village,” he said.

Council members said the new law was discussed months before Cooper Farms, which has a plant in St. Henry, announced in February the construction of two 1.5-megawatt wind turbines at its Van Wert facility. Company officials had said they would consider placing turbines at other plant sites if the initial pair are deemed successful.

Eric Ludwig, director of corporate development at Cooper Farms in Van Wert, today said the company had “no official plans” to put a turbine at the St. Henry plant, but it was a future possibility.

When asked about the new legislation in the village, Ludwig said, “it would be nice to have guidelines instead of restrictions.”

Gelhaus said he told plant officials the new law did not specifically target them.

Two years ago, wind energy company NextEra proposed building a large wind turbine farm in the southern portion of Mercer County. By the spring of 2011, the project was nixed due to overwhelming objection from area residents.

Council members on Monday again discussed the possibility of constructing a new swimming pool but took no action. Input on raising the necessary funds is being sought. Income and property tax levies are being considered.

“Our first step is a feasibility study,” Gelhaus said. “We need to find out if we have public support.”

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