It may have been a commissioners’ meeting, but Seneca County residents had most of the say.
“They put these things up and they’re getting bigger and more powerful and they want to just shove them closer to our homes,” said resident Chris Zeman. “And that’s a major concern for a lot of us.”
People like Zeman say they’re furious with county leaders for entertaining the idea of allowing the construction of wind turbines near their homes.
Wednesday night, they made sure Seneca County commissioners heard their concerns.
“They’re industrial power plants,” said Zeman. “There’s no other way to put it. They’re made for generating electricity not for being around people.”
Apex Clean Energy is one of the many companies looking to build turbines in the area.
Its Republic Wind project alone calls for roughly 80 plus turbines in rural parts of the county.
“This is dangerous putting them so close to homes and so close to parks, roadways, buses,” said resident Deb Hay. “It’s just, it’s unimaginable.”
Along with safety concerns, opponents say the proposed projects would destroy property values and cause environmental harm.
“There is no dollar amount in this world that is worth affecting our families and our homes,” said one concerned resident as she addressed the commissioners. “I’m not talking about property values. I’m taking about children and this is wrong.”
But county leaders say the benefit turbines will bring far outweigh the cons.
“Wind power has been around for a long time,” said David Zak of Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. “It’s been successful. It’s made tremendous differences.”
Zak says projects like Republic Wind will bring in millions of dollars in economic development, long-term jobs and benefit area schools.
“It’s not going in my pocket,” said Zak. “It’s going to pay for services for individuals, people that live here. So trying to do good and this is an amazing project.”
For those opposed to the work those reasons simply aren’t enough, and hope their leaders fight for change before any work begins.
“I would like them to stand behind us and stand up for our safety,” said Hay.
In Ohio, construction of large-scale wind turbines are subject to state regulatory approval. As of now, none of the three Seneca County projects have the green light.
If approved, leaders behind the Republic Wind project say they’d like to start work before the end of this year.