VAN WERT – With a wind farm being developed in southern Van Wert County and another wind farm announced for southern Paulding County, the Van Wert County Commissioners made a move designed to give the county some additional leverage.
By a 3-0 vote, the commissioners terminated the county-wide alternative energy zone (AEZ) designation which had been passed in 2009.
“This will give us some ability to negotiate with wind farm developers,” said Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger. “This was we can strongly encourage a wind developer to be a good corporate citizen.”
Lichtensteiger also noted that without the blanket AEZ proclamation, the township trustees will be able to have more of a say in negotiations.
“These guys are at ground zero of the projects and dealing with everything every day,” he said.
However, the AEZ agreement with Blue Creek Wind Farm, developed by Iberdrola Renewables, will be unchanged. That project will be grandfathered with the same stipulations.
The alternative energy zone essentially speeds the approval process while cutting down on time and negotiations. The taxes are also greatly reduced under the AEZ. Blue Creek Wind Farm will be paying Van Wert County $9,000 per megawatt of power generated annually in the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program.
Lichtensteiger explained that the commissioners have spent the last month meeting with a series of persons including the director of the Ohio Power Siting Board, the director of energy policy of the Ohio Farm Bureau, and representatives of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and various townships in Van Wert County.
“We talked to many people, trying to do our due diligence and get as much information as we could before taking a stand,” Lichtensteiger stated. “We want to do everything we can. We have an obligation to look out for the people of Van Wert County.”
What the commissioners have learned is that local government has no power to eliminate wind farm construction in Van Wert County. Without the AEZ in force, the county has more power in negotiations and more people will have input into any agreements.
The fallout from this decision is still unknown at this time. However, more may be known as the developer of the project by BP Wind, Roger Brown, is due to meet with the commissioners on Thursday afternoon. The status of that project is unknown due to the desire of BP to sell off its wind energy holdings.
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