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Allen-VW County officials confer on wind project

DELPHOS – Economic development officials from both Van Wert County and Allen County met along with Delphos representatives on Tuesday to compare notes on a proposed wind farm which could soon be appearing in southern Van Wert County.

BP Wind has been working toward constructing Long Prairie Wind Farm, a proposed 200-megawatt wind farm, in Liberty, Willshire, and York townships of Van Wert County. At the last update from the project developer, plenty of acreage has been optioned by the company with the licensing process set to begin later this year. If approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, turbines could start to appear late this year or early in 2014.

The next step is to clear a way to send the electricity from the turbines to the electrical grid. According to Jeff Sprague, president of the Allen County Economic Development Group, that will involve an abandoned rail line in Allen County.

“We were approached about a year ago by BP Wind. They need access from a wind farm they are looking at putting in in Van Wert County, to run from that wind farm into Lima to one of the substations where they would plug in the power. So they are looking for access down the Spencerville-Elgin Railroad,” Sprague stated.

The Tuesday meeting was called for Allen County officials to check with Van Wert County about dealings with BP Wind and whether or not the county commissioners were on board with the project.

“We’re up to speed, we’re on board, and we supportive of the project,” Van Wert County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger declared. “You’re not supporting some rogue project that nobody knows anything about.”

The Allen County Port Authority has been asked to be able to lease right-of-way along the old railroad bed which runs from Lima through Spencerville, and northwest near the Van Wert County communities of Elgin, Ohio City, and finally Glenmore. BP Wind would like to use the old rail route for its transmission line to a substation in Lima and out onto the electrical grid. The line would be suspended with five poles per mile. The support poles would look much like the lines run by Iberdrola Renewables’ Blue Creek Wind Farm along U.S. 127 north of Van Wert. Right-of-way must be granted by the Allen County Port Authority and the Van Wert County Port Authority.

Lichtensteiger went on to explain that not everyone in Van Wert County was on board with the project, but “the economic development, the commerce that it provides for the city and county of Van Wert, you just can’t escape that.”

Sprague and Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan promised cooperation in the project as the first of many such arrangements.

“Hopefully this is the first step in many collaborative efforts,” Noonan remarked.