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Seneca residents get info on Republic Wind project

GREEN SPRINGS – APEX Clean Energy, a company proposing about 60 wind turbines in the Republic Wind project, hosted a pre-application open house Wednesday evening at Green Springs VFW to provide a project overview – one step in the process of getting the project approved.

The company intends to file an application with the Ohio Power Siting Board within 90 days for a facility that would generate 200 megawatts of electricity.

However, application approval hinges on the outcome of legislation being considered by the Ohio Legislature that would change regulations affecting where wind turbines can be erected.

If approved, the bills would reduce restrictions on setbacks that determine turbine placement enacted in 2014 legislation.

John Arehart III, senior development manager for APEX, said hosting the open house before the legislation outcome is known shows residents and state legislators the company’s interest in investing in Ohio and the Republic Wind region. He said the meeting was a precursor to submitting an application with the siting board, the state agency which makes decisions on wind projects.

The proposed project area in Seneca and Sandusky counties covers about 30,000 acres – roughly south of Green Springs, north of Republic and southwest of Bellevue. Arehart said 250 landowners have signed leases to take part in the project.

If it’s approved, Arehart said the area is to benefit from $1.8 million annually to school districts, townships and counties for 30 years – a total of $38 million to landowners, $36 million to schools and $18 million to counties and townships.

He said the project also is to create 100 jobs during six months of construction, and 10 long-term jobs maintaining turbines.

Arehart said construction would take about six months.

A crowded room of people attended the open house, taking turns looking at several maps and displays explaining project details.

Gary Baldosser of rural Republic, who lives and farms within the project boundaries, said he favors the project and plans to participate. He testified in June for APEX before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee asking that legislation be approved changing setback requirements to pre-2014 levels.

However, Chris Zeman of rural Republic said he’s forming a group opposing the wind project called Seneca Anti-Wind Union. He invited people to visit a new Facebook page.

“We’re trying to inform people about the importance of the setbacks and destruction of the viewshed,” he said.

He said he’s against the project because of safety concerns, potential noise from moving blades and obstructed views from 55-66 wind turbines that generate electricity only 35 percent of the time.

Arnie Depinet of Republic said he owns a “fair amount” of land in the project area and has signed leases with the company to have turbines on his land.

He said his main reason is to benefit area schools financially, but also townships and the counties.

Before making his decision, Depinet said he visited areas that have operating wind facilities and talked to the people who lived there.

In projects between Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Van Wert and near Grand Rapids, Michigan, he said he talked to several people who all were happy with the turbines.

“The turbines are a good thing for everybody,” he said.