|Wind Watch is a registered educational charity, founded in 2005.
A core group of Crawford Anti-Wind members have formed a new organization, saying they want to keep citizens informed on local issues.
The Crawford Citizens United Facebook group was created Wednesday afternoon and within 24 hours, had 75 members.
Crawford Anti-Wind was formed early this year as part of an effort to block development of Honey Creek Wind, a 300-megawatt industrial wind farm Apex Clean Energy planned to build in the northern half of Crawford County. On Nov. 8, voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum on restricting industrial wind development in the county.
“We’re kind of celebrating a big win, but at the same time, we do want to move forward,” said Roger Weisenauer, a member of both the anti-wind group and the new organization.
‘There’s more work to be done’
Paula Iler, a lifelong Bucyrus resident, also was part of a core group of wind opponents who had been working together for the last 2½ years.
“We realize that there’s more work to be done in our county,” she said. “Our original goal was to get this exclusion zone established and educate the public about the wind turbines and make sure that that didn’t happen, and we accomplished that.”
But in the course of that battle, they became aware of other issues, she said.
One is Crawford County’s Alternative Energy Zone, or AEZ. County commissioners voted in June 2011 to designate the entire county an AEZ, which means developers would not follow the state’s tax formula for alternative energy projects. Instead, they would pay Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) fees of $9,000 per megawatt, nameplate capacity, for the life of the project.
AEZs are designed to attract such development.
“Some counties have it, some don’t, but it sure welcomes these big companies in,” Weisenauer said. “We really would like to talk about that, and get that off the book.”
They’d also like to keep residents informed of issues coming out of the county commissioners’ office, both said.
They want the commissioners to be “more public” about big projects coming to the county, he said.
“As we found out through this anti-wind, so many people didn’t know what was going on with this wind; this was all coming in and so many people had no clue,” Weisenauer said. “So we really want to keep people informed on things. There’s a solar field already OK’d, and a lot of them don’t even know about that. We want to keep people informed moving forward on big, big, big items like this, you know, that affect the whole county.”
Sycamore Creek Solar Project, a proposed solar energy farm in Cranberry Township, would span approximately 1,000 acres and be capable of generating 117 megawatts of energy, according to public records from the Ohio Power Siting Board.
‘We thought why stop now?’
In the course of the battle to block the wind farm development, group members developed a good working relationship with local legislators, Iler said.
“We have some connections that can help us in this little county to maybe be more efficient and be a stronger small community and make sure that something like this doesn’t sneak in again,” she said.
“So we’re pooling our expertise,” Iler said. “We are a well-oiled machine and we thought why stop now? Why don’t we just keep with this momentum and keep the public informed and keep abreast of what’s going on in the commissioners’ meetings. We’ve attended one already; we just don’t feel that we want to just drop what all we’ve accomplished and we want to just keep the public informed.”
Kay Weisenauer, Roger’s wife and another member of the groups, called Crawford Citizens United “the heartbeat of Crawford County.”
“Many people are concerned about solar farms and the commissioners and their lack of concern for the constituents. Hopefully, this is a supportive and encouraging place to talk, support, hear the voices,” she said of the Facebook group.
Paula Iler said she believes the rapid growth of that group is a sign people want to be heard.
“We want to know when those big projects are moving into Crawford County,” she said. “We want to be able to have a say about it; we want to be able to use the legislative tools and the community input when these projects are coming into our area.”
Organizers are hoping to attract as many members as possible, Iler said. “We want communication to be freely exchanged.”
“We love this county; we love the people in this county and we’re just very thankful for how they came through in the election,” she said. “We just want to make this grassroots movement continue so that people feel like they have a voice and their voices can be heard.”
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding