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Champaign County seeks rehearing on turbine amendment

Officials from Champaign County and three townships filed an application Thursday asking the Ohio Power Siting Board to reconsider issues included in a proposed amendment to the first phase of the Buckeye Wind Project.

Earlier this year, wind farm developers sought changes to the first phase of the project, which included relocating four access roads, re-sizing two construction yards and relocating a substation.

In documents filed Thursday, county prosecutors argue that the OPSB erroneously found that portions of the amendment application did not require a public hearing because they did not result in a substantial change to the location of the project. The county is asking the state to reconsider and hold a hearing for the changes.

Officials from the wind farm had not fully reviewed the county’s arguments Friday, said Jason Dagger, a spokesman from Everpower, the company in charge of the project. However, he said he was surprised because the changes requested by the company were meant to lessen the impact that construction of the wind farm would have on the community.

“At the end of the day, we thought it was an improvement,” Dagger said. “We’re still evaluating this, but our attempt was to enhance and make the project better and we don’t believe there were any downsides to the amendment.”

However, the county argued the changes are important and raised concerns that the changes were approved without a hearing.

“The intervening boards are significantly concerned with the evident failure of the OPSB to set forth adequate protection for Champaign County’s infrastructure and other interests as it relates to wind energy development,” the county’s argument states.

Along with a proposed second phase, the wind project would build about 100 turbines across Champaign County. The project’s second phase has been approved by the OPSB, but is being appealed at the Ohio Supreme Court.

County prosecutors argued adjustments to the construction staging areas could cause traffic concerns, for example, and argued that the Champaign County Sheriff and Champaign County engineer should have the opportunity to testify on issues such as traffic safety and right-of-way concerns.