December 18, 2021

Residents get update on Moonwalk wind project

By Bob Tomaszewski, Staff Writer | Wapakoneta Daily News |

Liberty Power officials made it clear Wednesday night during a Union Township Trustee meeting they want to work harder on transparency. For residents keeping tabs on the project for the last year, the gesture seems too late.

“Usually we like to make sure we have the ingredients of a project first before we get out in the community and start talking about it,” Project manager Tom Healy said.

Liberty Power representatives shared an update on the Moonwalk Energy Project, which is still in the early stages. Healy stressed the significant economic benefits that could be brought to the community under a payment in lieu of taxes program
attached to the 300-megawatt wind project. That could mean as much as $2.7 million a year. He said the majority of the pilot payments would be split between townships and school boards.

The meeting became contentious when Auglaize County Townships United organizer Adrian Whetstone asked why an ARC-GIS map of the Moonwalk Energy Project was taken down after she shared it on social media. The map showed not only Moonwalk’s project status as of April 30, but Geenex’s estimated project area.

Environmental Planner Olivia Neter explained they used publicly available records to determine where other developers were leasing land and weren’t coordinating with Geenex’s Goforsolar Project.

Neter said the maps were supposed to be internal, which prompted attendees to call out Healy’s promises of transparency earlier in the meeting.

Healy was cautious about maps where leases where signed as he didn’t want to make people think that it was the full extent of the project.

“It will be more focused than that,” Healy said.

As of Thursday morning nine townships had informed the Auglaize County board of commissioners they were in favor of an exclusionary zone allowed under Senate Bill 52. Union Township trustees had signed their resolution last month. While Goshen Township hasn’t met yet this month, Clay Township official Anthony Elsass indicated they wanted to be intentional and have County Prosecutor Ed Pierce on hand when the resolution was passed.

Moulton Township Financial Officer Larry Johns said they had heard from several constituents and said fellow trustee Dean Kentner had about 13 calls regarding the resolution. Residents were overwhelmingly in favor of an exclusion zone.

According to Johns, Open Road Renewables representative Craig Adair had asked them not to sign the resolution and left promptly after their resolution was signed Tuesday night.

At the Union Township meeting, Healy said the Production Tax Credit would be the main tax subsidy they would expect from the project. That can cover up to 26 percent of construction costs over a 10-year period.

Against Birch Solar organizer Jim Thompson questioned Liberty Power representatives about project setbacks, and if they would be using manufacturer set backs or OPSB set backs.

Healy indicated it was still early in the process and that the turbines could be sourced from all over the world. He said the height of the turbines could be up to 600 feet, and that 30-year leases could have options for extending agreements for two additional terms of 10 years.

Healy said Liberty Power operates all the projects they build, and that it would involve between 35 and 50 turbines.

Healy said they have applied to connect to the transmission line to the west and that the project would require a substation next to the transmission line in Duchouquet Township.

They would set aside decommissioning funds and follow road use agreements as specified by the OPSB project.

Although each turbine sits on one to two acres, about 10,000 acres have been leased. Healy said the project hasn’t been designed yet and that size would likely shrink. Lease agreements have been signed in Duchequet, Union, Wayne, Goshen, Clay, and Pusheta townships. Healy said they only have one lease in Pusheta and the project would likely not be located there.

Mike Stahler of Union Township asked about insurance liability if a wind event or act of god similar to Kentucky’s tornados caused the turbines to damage other nearby property. Healy said he would have to come back with more details.

Karl Jenkins, a local livestock owner, asked Healy – rhetorically – how he would like it if a hog farm was set up next to his property.

Whetstone said people had bought their forever homes and that her children cried when she told them about local development projects.

Ann Fisher said they should hold a public meeting with community members before they go further.

Liberty Power Communications Specialist Erin Czerniak indicated they hoped to continue the dialogue at a later meeting.

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