Seneca County wind farm project on hold
Credit: Sarah Elms | The Blade | August 9, 2019 | www.toledoblade.com ~~
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A citizen group fighting a proposed wind farm in Seneca County claimed victory Friday after Seneca Wind LLC withdrew its application to construct the farm of up to 77 commercial-scale wind turbines because of a permitting error.
The company filed its notice of withdrawal with the Ohio Power Siting Board, but said it intends to refile the application this fall, once all materials the board needs to properly review the application are in place.
“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,” the Seneca Anti-Wind Union, a vocal opponent of the project, said Friday.
Seneca Wind a subsidiary of Utah-based sPower, filed its application for the wind farm with the Ohio Power Sitting Board last July. The plans were met with fierce opposition from residents concerned about the size of the turbines and their impact on nature, though supporters of the project attended public meetings to speak on the topic as well.
The 212-megawatt project could be one of Ohio’s largest wind farms, with turbines erected across 25,000 acres of leased private land in Seneca County’s Scipio, Reed, Venice, Eden, and Bloom townships. Officials estimate the project could provide about $56 million in combined lease payments to property owners and payments in lieu of taxes to local communities.
sPower officials on Friday said they discovered an error in the Determination of No Hazard permit it received from the Federal Aviation Administration last month. Public notices were not properly handled, so the FAA needs to cancel the permit and provide a new public notice and comment period before the project can move forward.
The company intends to refile its application with the Ohio Power Siting Board once the FAA issues a corrected Determination of No Hazard.
“Doing this right is more important than trying to continue forward at this time. We want to make sure this project is done correctly,” Jeffery Nemeth, sPower’s director of wind development said. “This is a good project, and we have every reason to believe we will receive DNHs for each turbine and will be resubmitting our application to the OPSB this fall.”
The Ohio Power Siting Board’s staff July 3 recommend denial of the proposed facility until the FAA and the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation were able to complete their analysis of the wind farm’s potential impacts to air navigation.
The Ohio Power Siting Board held a five-hour public meeting on the proposal July 24, during which opponents warned about noise, bird fatalities, and environmental impacts, and supporters touted the project’s projected economic and clean energy benefits.
An adjudicatory hearing was set for Aug. 26 in Columbus so that Seneca Wind, the Ohio Power Siting Board staff, and others could offer testimony before an administrative judge, but Mr. Nemeth said the proper FAA permit would not be in place by that time, so the company decided to withdraw its application.
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