Adrian Whetstone formed the Auglaize County Townships United organization to present a united front in opposition to a proposed wind energy project.
She brought those concerns to the Auglaize County commissioners Thursday.
The proposed Moonwalk Energy project involves the construction of 50 wind turbines across 10,000 acres in Clay, Goshen, Union, Wayne and Pusheta townships.
“The lack of transparency (from) Liberty Power to the community as a whole has caused frustrations to others and I,” Whetstone said.
She said their group sent several letters to the Ohio Senate and House public utilities committee in support of Senate Bill 52.
In recent months, Whetstone has asked township trustees to update zoning regulations to include wind and solar and asked commissioners to meet with trustees to get zoning updated.
In her presentation, Whetstone reminded commissioners turbines are not a constant source of electricity and require power from the main electrical grid. Whetstone claimed an average output for windmills was 30 to 40 percent of their capacity.
She also claimed the wind energy would lower property values by up to 15 percent.
Taxes was another topic addressed.
Whetstone said the company often saves money through Payment In Lieu of Taxes programs, or PILOT, and may not pay as much in the long run.
County Administrator Erica Preston explained officials are still evaluating the impact of PILOT versus NON-PILOT scenarios, especially on future levies. Future levies would be exempted under a payment in lieu of taxes.
Whetstone said excavation and cement hauling jobs created by the project would only be temporary. She said with the turbines
being so large often this presents transportation problems in remote areas.
“Do you the commissioners really want to see Auglaize County transformed from an agricultural area to more of an industrial area?” Whetstone asked rhetorically.
Whetstone wanted to know where the power would be going and questioned whether it would be beneficial to the community if the power wouldn’t stay in the local grid.
She was also concerned about adverse affects on local wildlife, including bats and birds.
She said the noise from the wind turbines could be heard as surrounding sound levels are low. She said the noise is usually described as a “whooshing, buzzing and pulsating sound.”
Those who have photo sensitive epilepsy could have seizures induced by shadow flicker resulting from the spin of the wind turbines.
Area resident Shelly Bendele said her daughter is photosensitive and can experience seizures when fire alarms flash.
Whetstone is also concerned about decommissioning costs, including removal of the concrete bases for turbines.
Anita Green, a rural landowner, expressed her concern for the loss of prime farmland.
“I am a rural resident, also a farm owner, I also work with farmers every day,” Green said, adding the footprint would involve both the physical project and the loss of farmland.
“There’s only so much farmland and there is only so much prime farmland and if you look at the definition of prime farmland, it’s the soils that make up that definition. The productivity of that land and it is the richest in the world in this area and in five states. There are many other areas to look at solar and wind and make that foot print,” Green said, suggesting that there are alternatives to taking up farmland.
“Does it have to be that we allow a step without planning, and then later say ‘where do we get our food?’” Green said. “Do we import it all? Is it safe? Do we lose our agriculture industry?”
Green pointed out agriculture is the number one export in the nation.
“Why would we target that, in opposition to energy? Can we not to find a place for both?” Green said.
She encouraged commissioners to think about the long-term impact for the county.
Green pointed out companies also dissolve and change hands due to liability and opt to lease instead of buying land.
“I ask the simple question, why would you not buy land outright?” Green said. “You need to ask the same question.”
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