CRESTLINE – The Black Fork Wind Project is operating on a two-year extension that will roll up to Jan. 23, 2019 after a decision by the Ohio Power Siting Board.
“The board felt Black Fork is continuing to make investments in the project and demonstrate good cause for a two-year extension,” Matt Butler, spokesman for the OPSB said.
Yet that ruling, rendered at a March 28 session, has created angst among those opposed to the project. Brett Heffner, a resident in the area for the planned wind project, said the OPSB was playing by its own rules to the organization’s benefit.
“Imagine you are in a poker game where everything you own is at stake. After the dealer distributes the cards, he looks at his own hand and declares fours are wild,” Heffner said. “That is what dealing with the siting board is like.”
Michael Sheehan, media relations for Capitol Power Corporation, the company in charge of the Black Fork Wind Project, said the extension will not change the project’s timeline. Black Fork still plans on beginning construction in the fourth quarter of this year and the assembly of wind turbines will start the first quarter of 2017.
“Capital Power remains committed to building Black Fork Wind and is working to secure a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the output of the renewable energy facility,” Sheehan said.
Black Fork’s arguments when requesting the environmental compatibility and public need certificate extension was that the project had lost time while intervenor appeals were under consideration by the OPSB. The project also cited changes in the energy market for Ohio, specifically the increasing supply of natural gas and a lower demand for electricity.
The Black Fork Wind Farm will consist of 91 wind turbines measuring approximately 500 feet tall, spread out across 14,800 acres of private, mainly agricultural land leased from more than 100 landowners in Richland County.
In September of 2014, the opposition to the project rejected the claims for creating a delay in the construction of the wind farm.
“While interveners and the Ohio Supreme Court process did take almost two years, the denial of a rehearing by the OPSB and Black Fork triggered the only recourse by Ohio Law, an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which can be a lengthy process,” Gary J. Biglin said of the intervenors submitted to the OPSB. “Black Fork does not show good cause for the extension of the Certificate especially condition 70 which states, ‘The certificate shall become invalid if the applicant has not commenced a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of journalization of the certificate.’
“By blaming intervenors for a two-year delay, or arguing a possible future two-year delay by litigation, could this not rather be another attempt to skirt the two year fireeze of S.B. 310 and the set back changes of H.B. 483? This request is premature considering the remaining time in the certificate.”
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