The Huron County commissioners have heard residents’ concerns about the Emerson Creek wind energy project and reversed their previous decision to support it.
About 30 people who were against the project attended the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday morning. After the public participation, many residents shook the hands of Terry Boose, Joe Hintz and Skip Wilde, thanking them for repealing their March 2018 resolution.
The commissioners, in their new resolution, said they have been informed “that the scope of the project has been significantly reduced” since the March 18 resolution, which “reduces the amount of taxes to be received by Huron County and the other political subdivisions within the footprint of the project.” Also according to Tuesday’s resolution, the commissioner said they are “aware there is a lot of uncertainty about the scope and course of the project and there is conflicting information.”
The Emerson Creek wind energy project is being developed by Apex Clean Energy, out of Charlottesville, Va. The original proposal included the construction of between 65 to 85 wind turbines in Erie and Huron counties.
The project, according to data provided by Apex, would provide:
• $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
Regardless of the commissioners’ resolution – or when the decision comes on the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program, Apex public engagement manager Natasha Montague said “we plan on moving forward with the Emerson Creek project.”
“The project is currently going through the Ohio Power Siting Board permitting process and the OPSB will determine whether or not the project is approved. This area is suited for a wind project because of the impressive wind resource and established rural farming community. A wind farm makes the most sense when placed in a community where everyone will benefit and that’s precisely what we envision locally. We see even more than a strong resource and a compatible geography; we see the community as our partners in bringing this project and its benefits to Huron County,” she added.
The Huron County portion of the project covers the townships of Lyme, Norwich, Sherman, a corner of Ridgefield and the northwestern quadrant of Richmond.
“The total acreage of the project boundary is approximately 41,000 acres with approximately 32,000 acres participating in the project. Approximately 31,000 acres of the project boundary is within Huron County,” Montague said.
Lyme Township resident Patricia Didion told the commissioners she didn’t build her house in 1968 to end up looking at “turbines right out of the front window.”
“I don’t think we need all this,” she added, noting that the project probably would give a millionaire a tax credit. “Our skyline will never be the same. … We don’t need those skyscrapers.”
Sally Norman, of Bellevue, said the proposed wind turbines would ruin the “serene, beautiful” landscape on her property.
Kevin Ledet, of Greenwich, and Lyme Township trustee Roger Hunker expressed their concerns about the related road use agreement.
“An approval of the PILOT isn’t an approval of the project,” Hunker said. “It’s all for the protection of the road.”
Montague shared more information on the status of the PILOT program.
“The PILOT program provides a plethora of benefits and protections for the county. The commissioners have a decision to make on whether these benefits will be guaranteed in Huron County for years to come. The decision today was not the county’s decision on the PILOT application that Emerson Creek Wind has submitted and we expect the decision from the commissioners as to whether or not to approve a PILOT for the Emerson Creek wind project in Huron County will come within the next month or two,” the Apex spokeswoman said.
Wilde, the president of the commissioners, was asked if he was surprised by the amount of people who attended the meeting Tuesday.
“Not at all,” he said. “We’ve had numerous Tuesdays where they have (attended). They are passionate about their property, their view, their quality of life – on and on and on.”
Wilde also said he expected the unanimous decision, noting the commissioners made the decision in the best interest of Huron County residents.