A project proposed by the same company that plans to construct more than 100 wind turbines in eastern Champaign County is moving forward in a county to the north.
The dates for two hearings in the Scioto Ridge Wind Farm were announced Wednesday in an administrative law judge entry. Both the public and adjudicatory hearings will take place in January.
The project’s public hearing will be held Jan. 8, 2014, at 6 p.m. at the Hardin County courthouse, Veterans Hall, Ohio Courthouse Square, Kenton. The adjudicatory hearing is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2014, at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio at 10 a.m.
The proposed project is being developed through Hardin Wind LLC, a subsidiary of EverPower Wind Holdings Inc. EverPower has two proposed projects, including Buckeye Wind, in the works for Champaign County. The Scioto Ridge project would be located in the townships of Roundhead, McDonald, Lynn and Taylor Creek in Hardin County, as well as the townships of Richland and Rush Creek in Logan County.
According to EverPower’s website, the Scioto Ridge project will consist of up to 176 turbines and is expected to be operational by the end of 2015.
In addition to the turbines, the company has applied to build a five-mile transmission line and a point of interconnect switchyard, both of which would be located in Hardin County. The function of the transmission line and switchyard is to connect the Scioto Ridge Wind Farm generating facility to the existing American Electric Power East Lima-Marysville 345 kV circuit.
An administrative law judge granted the applicant’s motion to consolidate the applications of the three projects in September for the purpose of all public hearings, evidentiary hearings and public notices.
The administrative law judge also granted intervenor status for residents who previously filed motions to intervene, according to Wednesday’s entry.
Both Joe and Deb Grant and Michael and Diana Shepherd filed respective motions to intervene as nonparticipating property owners or residents on property within the wind project. The intervenors expressed concerns including the minimum setback of turbines from houses, harm to migrating birds, noise levels and a reduction in residential property values.
The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation is also an intervenor in the project.
Company evaluating Allegany Wind Project
In another proposed wind farm project developed by EverPower, the company recently decided not to file a permit extension to develop the Allegany Wind Farm.
Despite this decision, Buckeye Wind Farm project manager Jason Dagger said this does not necessarily mean the Allegany project is dead.
The permit initially was approved by the Allegany Town Planning Board in 2011, but various issues prevented EverPower from proceeding.
According to a press release issued by the company on Oct. 25, EverPower had reviewed whether it could move forward with the project this year using the original proposal, but rising turbine prices have increased the project costs by millions of dollars, leaving it economically infeasible to complete construction in 2014.
“We are evaluating the future for the project in its current form,” stated Chris Shears, Chief Development Officer for EverPower. “There is very strong demand for wind turbines for 2014 and, as we feared, order books have filled up as the year has progressed. We know that many people will be disappointed, as the clean energy and investment would bring approximately $12 million in payments to (Cattaragus) county, school district and town over the next 20 years, however, we look forward to working with everybody to try again next year.”
Christopher A. Walker, attorney for Champaign County opponents’ group Union Neighbors United (UNU), said EverPower ran into determined opposition against the project.
“They learned that it is very difficult to site a wind project in the face of local opposition,” Walker said. “We hope they will take that lesson to heart.”
According to the Buffalo News, Cattaraugus County residents raised concerns about quality of life issues associated with noise and visual clutter associated with the turbine project.
The newspaper also reported that EverPower filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the town of Allegany and the Allegany Planning Board, claiming the board’s request for a supplemental review of noise impacts, in light of the wind power company’s request to use larger turbine blades, was arbitrary.
The suit was dismissed by state Supreme Court Justice Michael Nenno, who said the company’s conduct was willfully obstinate.
“It seems to me that suing the town in which you propose to site a wind farm is a questionable community relations strategy,” Walker said. “The reason the town asked for the supplemental noise study was that EverPower proposed to change the size of their turbines and it’s interesting that EverPower has not yet announced what turbine it intends to use in Champaign County. All we have here is an estimate of noise impacts from one possible turbine model, so in that sense I think we are in the same situation as the host community in New York in not knowing what to expect in terms of the noise impacts from the turbines.”
When asked by the Daily Citizen what would prevent a similar situation or delays from occurring in the Buckeye Wind Farm projects, Dagger said there’s no correlation between the two projects other than the development company.
“They both have different permitting regulations, so they’re two separate projects on separate time lines,” Dagger said.
The Allegany project called for 29 turbines to built on the hills above Chipmonk Road.
EverPower has six commercially-operated wind projects and 15 projects in eight states in various stages of development totaling more than 2,100 megawatts.
Both phases of the Buckeye Wind Farm have been granted certificates from the Ohio Power Siting Board and would build a combined 110 turbines in eastern Champaign County.
Intervenors in the second phase of the Buckeye Wind project have until Nov. 29 to appeal the board’s decision not to grant a rehearing in the project to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Walker said that an appeal is likely from UNU and the group is refining the issues it wants to include in the appeal.
Champaign County Prosecutor Kevin Talebi said the intervening townships and county commissioners are evaluating their options and no decision has been made by any entity on whether appeals will be filed.
In October, EverPower officials informed Champaign County commissioners that they plan to file an application for payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in the near future. Dagger said Tuesday there is no timetable for when the company will file an application with the Ohio Developmental Services Agency and that the company is working on the application.