For a two-hour special information session on Aug. 10, Apex Clean Energy is bringing together a team of experts to answer residents’ questions about its Honey Creek Wind project and wind energy in general.
But one face that’s become familiar to people on both sides of the issue will be absent. Tyler Fehrman, who had served as Apex’s field manager, said last week he is “no longer on the Honey Creek project.”
“I’m still with Apex, but anything Honey Creek, I’m no longer on,” he said.
Dahvi Wilson, vice president of public affairs for Apex, would not comment on why Fehrman is no longer on the team.
She said the company is working on selecting a replacement.
“We don’t have a job opening at the moment, but we are working to make sure we’re covered and everybody can have their questions answered,” Wilson said. “We have other team members who are going to be jumping in and we have the full development team there as well, who the community knows already.”
The future of Honey Creek Wind, a planned 300-megawatt industrial wind farm, may rest with Crawford County voters this fall. In May, Crawford County commissioners voted 2-1 to ban industrial wind farm development in the county. In June, Honey Creek Action – a political action committee backed by Apex and, at the time, headed by Fehrman – submitted petitions seeking a referendum vote on that decision this fall.
The Crawford County Board of Elections is expected to rule during its August meeting, when it certifies issues for the fall ballot, on whether the wind farm vote will happen.
‘Really qualified folks’ will answer questions
The team assembled to answer questions during the meeting planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Trillium Event Center, 1630 E. Southern Ave., will include “a whole crew of folks,” Wilson said.
“We tried to get really qualified folks so that people know they’re getting good information,” she said. “We’re really hoping we can answer a lot of questions here.”
Eight panelists will speak on different topics related to wind energy, she said. A moderator will ensure all of the questions from the audience are answered. People attending will be able to write down questions, which will be grouped into categories and funneled to the moderator. Questions will be collected throughout the meeting.
“Any questions that we can’t answer live in the two-hour period, we will respond to it after the fact,” she said. “We will post those on the website as well. The intention of this event is really to make sure folks can get their questions answered by the people who have the best answers, who know the most about the topics.”
A video of the session also will be posted on the Honey Creek website.
At the beginning of the session, each panelist will give a very short presentation, she said – “probably five minutes or less, because we want the majority of the time to be dedicated to questions from the audience.”
Regularly hear questions about wind energy
Honey Creek representatives regularly hear a variety of questions about wind energy and the project, Wilson said.
“Our project developer, Carmen O’Keefe, will be one of the panelists,” she said. “She’ll be able to talk about the specifics related to the project. We’ll also have a gentleman named Nate Pedder on the panel who was a developer on our Emerson Creek Wind project, so he’s actually taken that project all the way through the OPSB (Ohio Power Siting Board) process, and he’ll be able to talk about that, so if there are questions about the state approval process or how that works, he’ll be able to answer those. He’ll also be able to talk about decommissioning, which is something we sometimes get questions about, what happens at the end of the project’s life and how is the community protected from those costs.”
Dr. Jeffrey Ellenbogen, a medical doctor and researcher with a background in sleep medicine, will speak about wind energy and health.
“We’ll have someone from our environment team who can talk about environmental permitting and some of the research that’s done in wind energy to ensure minimal impact to wildlife,” Wilson said. “We’ll have someone from our construction team on the panel to answer questions that may come up about that,” including how construction affects roads, how long the process takes and what to expect.
“We’ll have someone on the panel to talk about siting,” she said. “He’s part of our team that basically designs the layouts for projects, so he’ll be able to answer questions about shadow and setbacks and how we model that and how we incorporate those things into our design. And we’ll also have someone from our safety team, who can talk about wind energy and safety, especially when it comes to operating facilities, where people sometimes have questions about that.
The panel also will include an expert who specializes in noise assessments for environmental sound sources. He works for a consulting firm that works on modeling wind turbine sound, “so he’ll be there to answer questions specifically about sound – the nature of the sound that comes from wind turbines but also what we’ve seen in projects in Ohio,” Wilson said.
‘Respectful behavior’ will be required
People who plan to attend can register on the Honey Creek website, www.honeycreekwindpower.com, but that’s not required, she said.
What is required is that people follow the guidelines for how to behave during the session, she said.
The event website states that Apex will “require respectful behavior” during the session, and anyone who does not comply will be removed from the building.
“The intention of this event is to make sure everybody has a chance to feel safe asking questions and getting answers, so our hope is to make sure we preserve that kind of environment,” Wilson said. “We do have some sort of expectations described there to make sure we’re creating that kind of safe space.”
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