It’s been nearly two years since the Blue Creek Wind Farm, consisting of 152 turbines on 80 square miles in western Ohio’s Paulding and Van Wert counties, went online. But Ohio’s first and still largest wind-power facility didn’t rise out of western Ohio’s farmlands overnight.
“The very first thing in the development was site research in the fall of 2006, followed by interconnection with the AEP transmission line. In 2007 we gathered wind data and we were busy in 2008 talking to landowners. Construction began in 2010,” said Dan Litchfield, a developer for Blue Creek’s operator, Iberdrola Renewables of Portland, Ore.
“There was some opposition from the community in the beginning, but it wasn’t significant,” he said.
“The majority was pretty open-minded about the project, and they’re very happy with it now. You’re not going to please everybody. I spent a lot of time answering questions, which was really more about education because wind energy is so new to people.”
After taking the unusual step of building the facility before it had any customers for its power, because Iberdrola, with world headquarters in Spain, evidently has some deep pockets, the company eventually landed Blue Creek three takers.
First Energy Solutions is Blue Creek’s biggest customer, followed by American Municipal Power, with the final third of the wind farm’s power going to the wholesale market on the electrical grid.
“All the towns in the area are getting a slice of the output,” Litchfield said.
In addition, Blue Creek is under contract to sell 50 megawatts of its power to The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus, which will meet 25 percent of its electricity needs through the 20-year deal.
“OSU and AMP were not obligated to choose us. They did so for their own reasons, to help meet their environmental goals. When 25 percent of your energy prices are fixed, that’s good hedging against your overall prices. It’s a prudent thing to do,” Litchfield said.
He said Iberdrola is pursuing two more wind projects in western Ohio. A facility called Dog Creek will go in the ground close to Blue Creek, while another is planned near the village of Leipsic in Putnam County.
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