BELLEVUE – Apex Clean Energy, which has an office in Bellevue, plans to invest millions into Erie and Huron counties over a 30-year period through the Emerson Creek Wind Project.
“Wind turbines pay property tax – with 70 percent going to the school districts – so you’re going to see a major increase in the tax base in the area,” project developer Sarah Moser said. “That’s probably the biggest economic benefit, is the tax revenue it creates … you’re looking at 30 years of stable income into the community.”
But the project offers other economic benefits the company says the community will benefit from for years to come.
“You also have to look at the indirect economic growth of the project,” Apex spokeswoman Natasha Montague said. “The cement for the bases and the parts for the turbines would all be purchased locally. Ohio is one of the largest manufacturers of the components of turbines.”
Emerson Creek and Apex’s other projects, Republic Wind in Sandusky and Seneca counties, would create about 30 permanent jobs in the community.
“Wind turbine technician is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country,” Moser said. “Our kids are going to be wanting to do those jobs. If we build a wind farm here, they can come back here.”
APEX would also make yearly payments to property owners to lease the land for the turbines, but also allowing the owners to continue to farm on the land right up to the base of the turbines.
“The reason you’re seeing corporations interested in wind is because they can lock in a price today and have it for the next 30 years,” Moser said.
After a period of time, Apex reassesses the turbines to decide if the plant should be re-powered by keeping the base and adding a new generator or decommissioned if new technology has come along.
When Apex presents a project to the state, a decommission bond is required up front, so the cost of decommissioning wouldn’t cost the taxpayers.
But before the state of Ohio can approve any plans, the company needs to do two years of ecological impact studies. Turbines are often accused of killing birds, but Apex says studies show turbines are responsible for fewer bird deaths than cats.
Apex has been in the region since 2008 and has studied the migratory pattern of birds and other animals. The state has to approve the location beforehand to ensure it doesn’t drastically affect the wildlife.
The company is prepared to submit the application to the state of Ohio for a review process, which will take about 11 months. They hope to begin the project by 2020, but they’re aware the project will face similar opponents as the Republic Wind project. The company will host a public information meeting Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Bronson-Norwalk Conservation League.
The project would see the construction of between 65 and 85 wind turbines, with about 25 turbines in Erie County. The turbines would start in Groton and Oxford townships and then go down the west side of Huron County.
The turbines would be 350 feet tall from the base to the hub and close to 600 feet when the blades are pointing straight up.
“People try to make comparison’s to buildings or the Statue of Liberty, but the tower is only 19 feet in diameter,” Moser said. “They’re very narrow towers and don’t take up much room.”
The advancement in the engineering of the turbines and the aerodynamics of the blades have made turbines more efficient and suited for the area.
“As technology has gotten better, we can use the wind resource in Ohio,” Moser said. “Before you might need a 13 mph wind, but now, we can use 6 to 8 mph winds, so the turbines are moving more often than not.”
“You hear the arguments, ‘it’s windier in Kansas or Iowa, so why don’t you build out there,’ but there isn’t the transmission or ability to tap into the grid,” Moser said. “The power has to go you metropolitan areas, which Ohio has a lot of, and we’re kind of the gateway heading east.”
Apex estimates Emerson Creek would be able to generate 300 megawatts of pollution-free energy, which is enough to power 94,000 houses. The power may be generated locally, but the grid would enable it to go wherever it’s needed.
“Once the power goes on the grid there’s no way to track where it goes. Wherever the demand is, that’s where the power will go,” Montague said. “But all the township and school taxes stay local, so even if the energy doesn’t stay local all the benefits do.”
Local economic benefits
• $51.3 million in landowner payments
• $54 million in school payments
• $27 million in county and township payments
• 130 construction jobs
• 30 long-term jobs
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