COLUMBUS – The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved a certificate Tuesday allowing for the construction of more than 50 wind turbines in eastern Champaign County as part of the second phase of the Buckeye Wind farm.
In its decision, the OPSB authorized project applicant EverPower or Champaign Wind, LLC, to build wind turbines at 52 of 56 proposed locations across 13,500 acres of leased private land in Goshen, Rush, Salem, Union, Urbana and Wayne townships.
In addition to the first phase of the project, the newly approved project would construct more than 100 turbines in eastern Champaign County. With Tuesday’s decision, the OPSB has approved certificates for 10 wind farms across the state totaling 639 turbines and 1,302 megawatts of generation capacity.
“Certainly we’re excited to move the project forward,” project manager Jason Dagger said of the board’s decision. “We’re ready to be an economic player in the community and bringing the two projects together certainly makes a lot of sense from (the construction standpoint) and impact to the community.”
According to an OPSB press release, the facilities will be capable of generating up to 140 megawatts of electricity. “With the certification and construction of new generating facilities like the Buckeye II Wind Farm, Ohio continues to make strides to comply with the requirements of Senate Bill 221,” Board Chairman Todd A. Snitchler stated. “While we will continue to rely on traditional base load generation from coal, other resources such as natural gas and wind power are beginning to play a valuable role.”
The press release states the wind farm met eight criteria established by Ohio law for new generating facilities in the state and will have a positive impact on the county, townships and local communities through the collection of additional tax revenue.
The applicant is required to implement 72 conditions that will be monitored and enforced by the board. Among these conditions, the board denied construction of four proposed turbines that conflict with setback requirements.
Other conditions addressed a variety of issues including shadow flicker, noise, construction damage to roads and agricultural land and decommissioning of the facilities.
Dagger said there are still different issues that need to be sorted out including final engineering plans and finalizing taxation discussions with county commissioners. EverPower would seek to have regular taxation reduced to a payment in lieu of taxes or PILOT to local government entities.
Decisions about PILOT for both projects rests with Champaign County Commissioners. Dagger said currently there is no specific timetable to ask for PILOT.
“We need to finalize this project very soon so that’s certainly something that we’ll have to take into consideration,” Dagger said.
He also said there is currently no set date for when construction would begin on the project.
Local entities who intervened in the second phase of the project included Champaign County Commissioners, Pioneer Electric, UNU, the farm bureau and affected townships.
Board spokesperson Matt Butler said the parties have 30 days to apply for a rehearing with the board and would have 60 days to file an appeal with the state Supreme Court after the OPSB makes a decision on rehearing.
The OPSB approved the construction of the first phase of the wind farm project in March 2010, allowing for the construction of 53 wind turbines in eastern Champaign County. After appeals were filed by Champaign County, three townships and citizens group Union Neighbors United (UNU), the board’s decision was upheld in March 2012 by the Ohio Supreme Court.
EverPower filed an application for the second phase of the project on May 15 of last year, proposing to build 56 more turbines in much of the same area as the first phase of the project.
Since EverPower submitted a proposed amendment related to the first phase of the wind farm project earlier this year, six parties have intervened in the amendment including the city of Urbana, Champaign County Commissioners and Urbana and Union Townships.
The amendment, which is related to the first phase of the wind farm project, proposes to install power lines under private property of contracted landowners instead of using utility poles in rights of way.
Previously, the company planned on working with Dayton Power and Light to arrange for the construction, operation and maintenance of the above ground portions of collection lines associated with the facility.
The amendment also proposes to move three staging areas inside the siting boundaries of the project’s second phase. The city of Urbana has contended that the changing of one staging area from the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and state Route 814 to the intersection of U.S. Route 36 and Three Mile Road would potentially interfere with the extension of a city sewer main to a nearby business.
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