August 22, 2013

Ohio Supreme Court hears oral arguments for wind farm appeal

Written by Todd Hill | News Journal | Aug. 22, 2013 |

Oral arguments were heard in the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday in the appeal of the Black Fork Wind Farm’s approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Opponents of the project, which would feature 91 wind turbines spread across 24,200 acres in Richland and Crawford counties, have claimed there is inadequate financial protection if the turbines are decommissioned and that there is no record of how much it would cost to remove the decommissioned turbines, among other technical legal points.

Wednesday’s arguments were heard by Judge Julia Lillian Dorrian of the Tenth District Court of Appeals. Details of her decision are expected late this week.

In late March, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith L. French dismissed two of the opponents’ three propositions of law. Their remaining contention that their due process was violated through the prohibition of evidence presentation and by permitting the project to make post-certificate alterations and information submissions without a hearing was argued Wednesday.

The issue of whether the project is required to post a bond before construction can commence also was scheduled to be considered.

Opponents of the project include a handful of residents in Shelby, Crestline and Tiro, along with trustees from Richland County’s Sharon Township. The Ohio Farm Bureau filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the project.

The wind farm would be west of Shelby, north of Crestline and nearly surround the village of Tiro. Ohio 598 would bisect the entire site from north to south. The vast majority of the turbines would be 494 feet high. The project is expected to generate 200 megawatts of power and have a life span of 20 to 25 years.

Element Power, an Oregon-based alternative energy company, hopes to begin construction of the Black Fork Wind Farm in 2014 and possibly go online in 2015.

State law requires 25 percent of electricity sold in Ohio to be generated from alternative energy sources by 2025. At least half of this energy must come from renewable energy sources, including wind, and half of the renewable facilities must be located in the state.

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