PERRYSBURG — Whether Owens-Illinois will get the Planning Commission’s recommendation to build a 400-foot wind turbine in the city will have to wait – for now.
On Thursday, members of the commission voted to table proposed zoning amendments that would permit the turbine’s constructing until they have more information.
Representatives from O-I addressed the commission about the project at the meeting. Members of the commission expressed their interest in the project, but remained reserved over potential height and safety concerns.
The current zoning code allows for a maximum height of 100 feet for wind turbines. The height of the turbine proposed by O-I would be approximately 406 feet tall, requiring an amendment to the zoning code for the project to move forward.
“The issue is that 100 feet is not high enough to install a turbine sufficient to power O-I,” said Jereme Kent, the general manager for One Energy. “A facility like O-I uses more power than the closest thousand homes. A wind turbine of the scale we’re looking at putting in, which is the same size you see you in Bowling Green and Findlay, is on the order of four or five hundred homes worth of power a year. To get to that scale you have to get that height and we aren’t able to do that at 100 feet.”
Planning and Zoning Administrator Brodin Walters was concerned over the reaction the community might have to a tall turbine in a densely populated area like Perrysburg.
“People are very polarized on this issue,” said Walters. “They are very bold structures, and people tend to say either ‘It’s great because of the environmental impact, and it’s moving in the right direction, and it’s great for the planet,’ or they say ‘They’re just monstrosities and we can’t have that be the highlight of our skyline.’ It’s hard to introduce anything this bold into the community and have it be embraced.”
Commission member Thomas Forquer asked if the company could build multiple wind turbines at the current 100 foot height maximum to generate the same amount of power as the one proposed turbine.
“The goal is to capture as much air as possible,” Kent said. “If you had a turbine half as high you’d actually generate a quarter of the power. It’s a 4-1 ratio to go smaller. In theory, in an open field it’s doable, but in terms of land available to O-I it would take substantially more area to do that and that’s significantly beyond what O-I has available.”
In addition to the height of the structure, commission members focused many of their questions on safety concerns and the possible impacts on the community.
Commission members Seth Hudson and Christopher Carry expressed their concerns over the planned fall zone for the turbine and the potential for damage to private property. Forquer asked about the possibility of blade failures resulting in “blade sail”. Carry questioned the potential for noise disturbances created by the turbine.
Kent addressed each issue in turn and assured the commission that all necessary precautions have been taken and the impact on the community would be minimal.
“We would not be having this conversation today if we hadn’t already done all of our due diligence,” Kent said. “That includes all of our noise and sound modeling, and ice throw studies. We get into everything from shadow flicker effects to wake effects from other structures on turbines. We do a comprehensive set of studies prior to this.”
Kent also proposed taking the Planning Commission on a tour to visit existing wind turbines similar to the one O-I has proposed to help ease their concerns.
The commission decided to table the proposed amendments to the zoning code until their next meeting in order to consider the issue more thoroughly.
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