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Republic Wind project dead

After nearly four years of debate, protest and vocal opposition, the Republic Wind LLC application to construct a wind farm facility in Seneca and Sandusky counties has been officially denied by the Ohio Power Siting Board.

The board had the authority to either approve or deny a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the wind-powered electric generation facility, but ultimately decided the project was not in the public interest. During a meeting Thursday afternoon, the board voted unanimously to deny Republic Wind’s request.

Jenifer French, the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, said that input from local residents and governments played a significant role in the decision.

“We received a lot of public comments and participation in this case,” French said. “Local government opposition and majority local resident opposition, combined with some significant geological issues, were the deciding factors in this case.

“I put a lot of importance on the comments and concerns of the local government and residents,” she said.

French noted that residents came out to meetings in great numbers over the course of the case, mostly in opposition of the project. Additionally, she mentioned that substantial opposition from the Seneca County Commissioners played a large role in the decision.

Though the board’s vote was unanimous, one state representative present at the meeting disagreed with the decision – Rep. Jeffrey Crossman of House District 15. Crossman said that denying this project would set a precedent that would tell developers that they aren’t welcome in Ohio, which would turn away a significant amount of green investment.

The Republic Wind project was purported to have generated more than $400 million in private investment and would’ve created 100 local jobs. However, an administrative law judge found that the applicant did not meet their burden in terms of present geological issues.

French noted that this was one rare case where the opposition to the project hired an expert to analyze the proposal and testify, and the judge found him “very persuasive.”

Crossman suggested the case be tabled instead of completely denied, but the board decided to vote nevertheless.

Republic Wind is a subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia, and the pre-application for the project was filed in November 2017. Since then, the Seneca Anti-Wind Union and other local interests have fought tooth and nail to put the project to rest.

The project would have created up to 47 wind turbines with a total generating capacity of up to 200 megawatts, and the facility would have been located in the Seneca County townships of Adams, Reed, Scipio and Thompson, as well as York Township in Sandusky County.

In the same meeting, the OPSB unanimously approved a certification for Firelands Wind LLC to construct a wind power electric generation facility in Huron and Erie counties.