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State board to rule on Huron County wind farm

It’s been almost a year, but the Ohio Power Siting Board is finally ready to decide whether to let a wind farm in southern Huron County go forward.

The item will be on the board’s agenda when it meets at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio building in Columbus. The 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC wind farm application will be the sixth item taken up by the board.

Last year, the board approved an application to build the Greenwich Windpark in Greenwich. The project involves 25 wind turbines, about 490 feet high, with rotor diameters of up to 383 feet. The project would cover 4,650 acres of land from 26 landowners.

The Omega Crop Company, however, filed an application for a rehearing Sept. 23 last year, and the wind development company seeking to build the project and Greenwich residents opposed to it have been waiting for a ruling since then.

The board will make a decision Thursday, deciding whether to let the project go ahead or whether to block it from moving forward, said Matt Butler, a spokesman for the board.

The meeting will be open to the public, but only board members will speak, Butler said.

“It’s not another opportunity for the public or the applicant in the case or any other parties to provide additional testimony,” he said.

Opposition to the wind farm has been led by Greenwich Neighbors United. The group has filed hundreds of comments opposing the project, said Kevin Ledet, chairman of the group.

Ledet said he expects members of his group at Thursday’s meeting.

He said he doesn’t know what the next step will be if his group loses.

“We’ll have to see what the ruling is,” he said.

Greenwich Windpark LLC is a subsidiary of Windlab Developments Limited USA of Plymouth, Mich., but the parent company is in Australia.

Last year, when the developers thought they’d been given the green light to move forward, the company had hoped to begin building the wind farm by the second quarter of 2015 and have it operational by the end of this year.

Monica Jensen, vice president of development for Windlab in the U.S., said Monday she can’t offer a new timetable yet. The delay has stalled necessary steps such as finding a market for the wind farm’s power generation and obtaining financing, she said.

But she remains confident the project will be done.

“I think all of the pieces are falling together nicely right now,” she said.

Jensen said she is disappointed by the delay but understands the need for due process.

“If the tide were turned and we wanted to appeal, obviously we would want that due process as well,” she said.

Asked if 11 months to decide the issue was a normal time, Butler said he couldn’t say.

“There’s not a specific time frame in which the board has to rule on a request for rehearing. It’s hard for me to characterize anecdotally whether or not that is an extended period of time. Requests for rehearing are not uncommon, and the time frames vary based on the time the board feels it needs to review the issues,” he said.