VAN WERT – With one wind farm already operating in Van Wert County, another wind farm running in Paulding County and several wind turbines powering plants like Haviland Drainage and Cooper Farms, area residents may be seeing another wind project in the northeast portion of Van Wert County.
A study is being done on moving ahead with the next Iberdrola Renewables project, which Project Developer Dan Litchfield hopes is the Dog Creek Wind Farm. This project is slated to generate 100 megawatts and will possibly add 50 to 60 turbines in Hoaglin, Jackson, Ridge and northwestern Washington townships. The general borders of the project as currently drawn would be between U.S. 224 and U.S. 30 and between Gilliland and Bockey roads.
The wind farm would be laid out completely within the borders of Lincolnview School District, so that district would benefit greatly financially if Dog Creek is built. Iberdrola paid the county more than $2 million a few weeks ago in the first annual payment from the Blue Creek Wind Farm. That money is divided via formula between the school districts affected, the townships and the county. The Dog Creek project would use the same transmission facility on Fife Road that was built for Blue Creek.
Litchfield met with Van Wert County commissioners on Tuesday.
“I’ve continued to go out to the townships and talk to them about what their concerns are, what their constituents’ concerns are,” he reported. “I was at Washington Township [Monday] night. The issues they raised were taxes, the abatement program used for Blue Creek Wind Farm, concern about more involvement with the city of Delphos, concern about property values, concern about the view of wind turbines, about decommissioning and the bonding process, concern about insurance, about crop dusting and emergency medical helicopters. Most of those issues I will be following up with them with relevant information that we have on similar subjects.”
According to Litchfield, Iberdrola has two projects the company is trying to decide between for its next wind farm. Dog Creek Wind Farm is one project while the other is a wind farm that would be located in the Leipsic area.
“Internally, we are try to decide which project to move forward on. I’m advocating for Dog Creek. I think it’s a very good project,” Litchfield shared. “One of the big unknowns we have for Dog Creek is what we are going to pay for property taxes. That would be a key cloud we want to clear up on the project before we decide to invest in the project.”
Litchfield said that he is hoping to have a decision made by the end of summer but some sort of tax abatement needs to be agreed upon to determine costs.
“In order for our project to proceed, we need to know what we would be paying for taxes and it needs to be an affordable rate. We’re happy with the rate we have [at Blue Creek], so we can reinstate that rate via your action by passing an alternative energy bill and resolution, if you choose to,” he stated.
Another possibility is to negotiate an enterprise zone agreement to determine payments to various stakeholders in the county and other negotiable details. Either way, Litchfield admitted, the same parties will need to be present for negotiations.
“It doesn’t really matter which way we go,” he said, “We need to get the support of the townships, the county and the school in order for the project to go forward.
For now, Litchfield will be meeting with township and school officials as well as residents. He is hoping to put together at least one informational meeting at Lincolnview to discuss common questions and concerns. Also on the agenda is laying out the site and negotiating a road agreement to restore county roadways once construction would be completed. Once an agreement is made, if Dog Creek is chosen as the next project, work will begin on extra permitting which must be submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board for the project to get state approval.
Litchfield knows the job that lies ahead for him.
He revealed, “I’m going to work with the townships and with you to get everyone more comfortable with the project and what we’d be asking for abatement-wise. And hopefully we could have an abatement in place, then I think we could make a decision to invest in Dog Creek.”