The Ohio Power Siting Board has agreed to allow more time to review parts of its decision regarding the second phase of the Buckeye Wind Project, after Champaign County and local officials raised concerns about the proposal.
According to documents filed recently, an administrative law judge granted applications for a rehearing in order to give the siting board more time to consider the issues raised in the case.
The siting board initially issued a certificate in May allowing the project to move forward. But county and township officials, as well as a group of residents opposed to the project, asked that the board reconsider several aspects of the proposal.
Combined with an earlier first phase, the project would build about 100 wind turbines across six townships in the county. The Champaign County Prosecutor’s office raised concerns in their request for a rehearing that included the proximity of the turbines to homes in the project area. Prosecutors, who filed on behalf of the county and several townships in the project area, also sought additional assurances that the cost to decommission the project would be covered by the wind company.
A request for rehearing from Union Neighbors United, a group of residents opposed to the project, was also granted by the siting board. That group has raised several concerns with the project, ranging from noise and the distance to nearby homes in the project area.
But officials from Everpower Renewables, the company in charge of the project, have argued that the state board’s initial decision should stand and that the project should move forward. In legal briefs filed earlier this month, attorneys for the wind project argued that the concerns from UNU have already been debated and settled. They also argued that the turbines are already a safe distance from homes, and that county prosecutors misinterpreted the turbine safety manuals regarding setbacks from homes and property lines.
Urbana city officials have also filed a request for a rehearing, but attorneys from the wind company argued that request should not be granted because the city missed its deadline to request the hearing. Gil Weithman, law director for Urbana, disagreed but said the state has not yet ruled on whether the city’s request will be heard.
The decision on whether to accept the city’s request for a rehearing is still pending, said Matt Butler, a spokesman for the siting board.
Butler said allowing the siting board more time to review the arguments does not have any bearing on the merits of the case, but simply allows the board more time to consider the issues that have been raised. The earliest the board is likely to reach a decision is at its next meeting on Sept. 30, Butler said.
If the state board upholds its initial decision, opponents can appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
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