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Ohio Supreme Court weighs fate of area wind farm  

Credit:  Tom Jackson | The Advertiser-Tribune | Aug 13, 2022 | advertiser-tribune.com ~~

GROTON TWP. – The Emerson Creek wind farm in Erie and Huron counties is on hold until the Ohio Supreme Court rules on the latest attempt by opponents to block the project.

A decision by the Ohio Supreme Court appears to be months away. While the court has received briefs in the case, it has not yet scheduled oral arguments.

When the Ohio Supreme Court weighs in, that’s likely to finally settle the matter, said Jack A. Van Kley, a Columbus attorney representing opponents of the wind farm. There are no issues of federal law in the case, he said.

Firelands Wind LLC is attempting to build a wind farm consisting of up to 73 wind turbines in southern Erie County and northern Huron County.

The Ohio Power Siting Board approved the project in the summer of 2021.

When opponents filed an application for a rehearing, the board voted 6-0 in November to reject the application, apparently clearing the way for construction to begin late this year.

But in January, opponents filed a notice of appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The appeal claims that setbacks for the project aren’t sufficient to avoid bothering neighbors with the noise of the turbines.

It also states the project jeopardizes underground water supplies and increases flooding risks, exposes neighbors to danger from “fires and blade shear,” would bother neighbors from shadow flicker from the blades and threatens local birds.

The appeal was filed by Patricia Didion, Jane Fox, Marvin Hay, Theresa Hay, Patricia Olsen, Sheila Poffenbaugh, Walt Poffenbaugh, Christina Popa, John Popa, Lori Riedy, Charles Rogers, Kenn Rospert, Dennis Schreiner, Sharon Schreiner, Donna Seaman, William Seaman, Deborah Weisenauer, Kenneth Weisenauer, Gerard Wensink and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.

In response, Firelands Wind LLC says that all of the issues raised by the project’s opponents were covered in a process before the Ohio Power Siting Board that took two and a half years.

For example, Firelands Wind asserts that it carried out thorough studies of the impact of the project on birds.

“Approximately 2,000 hours over multiple years of survey effort for birds was included in Firelands’ Application; far more data and studies than has been submitted for other applications before the (Power Siting) Board, all of which have been approved,” a brief says.

Amicus briefs supporting the wind farm have been filed by local farmers, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Environmental Council.

In its brief, the Ohio Environmental Council asserts that it is urgent to let wind power projects go forward once they have been reviewed by the state.

“Renewable energy generation is under constant attack in Ohio, and its assailants utilize the same tactics from case to case, spreading misinformation about projects more protective of human health and the environment than almost any other form of energy generation,” the brief asserts.

“In some instances, the opposition to renewable energy has its legal fees directly funded by fossil fuel interests. The pattern and practice of renewable energy facility appeals illustrate a coordinated opposition designed to deprive Ohio companies, communities, and consumers of the benefits of renewable energy – and Ohio’s future as a leader in the fight against the climate crisis,” it claims.

Firelands Wind LLC says the Ohio Power Siting Board approved a project for up to 73 wind turbines that will be spread out across leased land in Groton and Oxford townships in Erie County and Lyme, Norwich, Richmond, Ridgefield and Sherman townships in Huron County, Firelands says it expects to actually build 52 to 72 wind turbines.

While it is impossible to know when the Ohio Supreme Court might rule in the case, the court has not scheduled oral arguments yet. Typically, the court schedules oral arguments six months in advance so that attorneys can schedule the time, Van Kley said.

Van Kley said it is impossible to know when a court ruling will be made, but said it’s possible oral arguments could be made early next year, with a ruling possible sometime next year.

Source:  Tom Jackson | The Advertiser-Tribune | Aug 13, 2022 | advertiser-tribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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