August 10, 2019

Seneca Wind withdraws turbine project

Vicki Johnson | The Advertiser-Tribune | Aug 10, 2019 |

Seneca Wind LLC has withdrawn its application for a wind farm in eastern Seneca County. The company filed a request for dismissal Friday with the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Seneca Wind first filed the application July 16, 2018, for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the project. After modifications, the project was to construct up to 77 commercial wind turbines in Bloom, Eden, Reed, Scipio and Venice townships.

“With this notice, Seneca Wind also provides notice that it, or any of its affiliates, reserves the right to file at a later time another application for certificate of environmental compatibility and public need with the OPSB,” the filing states. “Therefore, Seneca Wind withdraws its Application and requests that this proceeding be dismissed, without prejudice, and that the record be closed in this case.”

Leading up to the withdrawal, Seneca Wind Tuesday filed another notice to continue the adjudicatory hearing that had been scheduled for Aug. 26. Along with the request were eight filings of testimony on behalf of Seneca Wind, and one memorandum of opposition filed by intervenor Steve Shuff.

In the motion to continue, Seneca Wind stated that its aviation consultant “inadvertently misidentified the nearby municipality in the project information and aeronautical study submitted to the FAA.” The error was missed by FAA when issuing notices for public comment.

Seneca Wind then filed the motion to allow additional time for the FAA process to be completed.

However, Shuff filed a memorandum Tuesday in opposition to the continuance.

“Mr. Shuff claims that he was one of the persons that informed the FAA that the location on the public notices was incorrect,” the OPSB filing states. Also, the filing said Shuff argued the Seneca Wind caused the error with the FAA.

“Opposing intervenor Shuff argues that fundamental fairness dictates that Seneca Wind should not benefit from its error,” the filing said.

In addition, Shuff said the FAA process would likely take months to be completed again.

OPSB ordered the adjudicatory hearing to proceed as scheduled, leading to the project withdrawal by Seneca Wind.

“Seneca Wind applied for delays in the process five times due to unfinished details, but the Ohio Power Siting Board has denied any further delay causing Seneca Wind to withdraw,” according to a statement from the Seneca Anti-Wind Union. “Problems with the FAA approval seems to have been the final straw.

“Although Seneca Wind reserves the right to re-apply for the project, this would be an expensive and lengthy process,” the statement says. “Also complicating things for them is the fact that a large number of leases have expired and many of the landowners want out of the project.”

In court, SAWU states Seneca Wind had asked the court to enforce the leases because the project was in the construction phase, “but since the application has been withdrawn, that argument would no longer seem to have any validity.”

“This is a victory for those fighting to protect Seneca County from being transformed into an industrial zone without local residents having a vote on the matter,” said the SAWU statement. “Going forward, we urge everyone to support Rep. (Bill) Reineke’s work in Columbus to pass a bill that would allow for a referendum on wind projects so that all local citizens can have input on such a major change to the fabric of their community. The current process allows state regulators to make such decisions with no local vote, and that tends to motivate massive opposition.”

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