GREENWICH —The Ohio Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal for a group of local landowners opposing a planned wind farm.
The judicial decision was announced Wednesday morning.
The project was stopped nearly two years ago after adjacent property owners were concerned about the amount of noise the turbines would produce.
“Today, we actually got good news and the Supreme Court ruled in our favor,” said vice president of Windlab Developments, Monica Jensen. “It was great way to start the day. That was a green light for the project. We will basically now be working on schedule, gearing up and getting the project up.”
The organization hopes to have the 25 turbines running by 2017.
Jensen said Windlab was unsure of an exact time table or how long the project would take.
“That’s a really good question,” she said. “Obviously, timing is everything and with the Supreme Court delay, we had to put a lot of things of hold and now we’re trying to get everything going again about two years later.”
The news came as a relief for the company, Jensen said.
“We were happy to really be through the process and happy that the other side was heard,” she said. “The most difficult things has really been the way the land owners that have been participating in the project are being treated by their neighbors.
“It’s really been great getting to know the people in the community,” Jensen said. “It’s great to see people have patience and still trust in the process and in the project and not give up hope that this is going to get done. And it really turns a page to the next generation.”
She said the company feels the project will benefit the community.
“One of the questions I’m constantly asked is how energy works. A lot of people don’t realize that energy is like a giant bathtub that needs filled to a certain height all the time,” she said. “Right now, wind is the least cost of power. There’s not as much coal but still some coal in there. But the bathtub stays filled. I just hope now that the community can move forward and realize the tax benefits that will come in the community and start taking advantage of them.”
Wind turbines returned to the Huron County commissioners’ agenda Tuesday, the day before the supreme court announced it will not consider the case. Jensen updated the commissioners about the proposed Greenwich wind park.
“I get a call once a week asking ’what’s going on?’” Jensen said. “’Can we put these things in yet?’
“It’s not an easy path,“ she added. ”I’ll probably be retired by the time this gets built.”
One of the delays involves what Jensen called an interconnection agreement, which deals with power companies.
“The delay has reduced the interconnection cost by $4.6 million,” she said. “Sometimes a delay can help you out in the long run.”
Commissioner Tom Dunlap discussed a second part of the delay.
“The whole thing is dependent on the Ohio Supreme Court,” he said Tuesday.
The supreme court may hear an appeal from Omega Farms. The appeal was filed to stop the building of the wind turbines, according to Dunlap.
“Who knows if the supreme court will even hear this?” Dunlap said. “There are so many what-ifs out there. We’re in a holding pattern. There is no timeline with the supreme court.”
Dunlap also talked about wind turbines in general.
“If there wasn’t government subsidies, I don’t know if one would ever be built,” he said. “I don’t see the return on it.”
Commissioner Joe Hintz told Jensen he didn’t appreciate several of the landowners not talking early on in the process.
“That caused a lot of consternation in the community,” he said.
Jensen said there was a “stacking up of different variables” involved in the situation Hintz described.
County Engineer Joe Kovach wants to make sure county roads are properly maintained and repaired once construction on the wind turbine park begins.
“We’re trying to protect the infrastructure of the county,” he said. “We’re trying to get a boiler-plate road-maintenance agreement. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Jensen said the turbine park construction will not take place during the winter.
“That would be so expensive,” she added.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Reporter Scott Seitz contributed to this story.
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