Article

Ottawa County - Wind use generates interest in region

PORT CLINTON - Port Clinton and Ottawa County are joining area communities in exploring the use of wind to generate electricity, which has picked up momentum with the success of Bowling Green's wind farm.

Bowling Green (OH)
Wind towers, though on a smaller scale than
these on U.S. 6 near Bowling Green, are
beginning to appear in Ottawa County.



Mayor Tom Brown said the city is looking into alternative energy, with a particular focus on wind power.

"We've had several presentations in City Council," he said yesterday, calling Bowling Green the state's pioneer in wind power. "We wanted to find out more about it."

Commissioner John Papcun said using wind blowing off Lake Erie to generate electricity is appealing. But he warned that the county's location along the migratory bird flyway could pose a handicap.

Port Clinton will address the issue when it meets today to consider a resolution that asks the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. to assist with funding an avian study before proceeding with the project, Mayor Brown said.

Elmore has taken steps in that direction as well, authorizing a study of meteorological conditions to see if wind turbines are feasible.

Last year, Oregon City Council in Lucas County heard a presentation on the benefits of wind-powered generators. It referred the matter to council's public utilities and environmental committee.

In Bryan, the Williams County community is spending $110,000 in... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
Bowling Green (OH)
Wind towers, though on a smaller scale than
these on U.S. 6 near Bowling Green, are
beginning to appear in Ottawa County.



Mayor Tom Brown said the city is looking into alternative energy, with a particular focus on wind power.

"We've had several presentations in City Council," he said yesterday, calling Bowling Green the state's pioneer in wind power. "We wanted to find out more about it."

Commissioner John Papcun said using wind blowing off Lake Erie to generate electricity is appealing. But he warned that the county's location along the migratory bird flyway could pose a handicap.

Port Clinton will address the issue when it meets today to consider a resolution that asks the Ottawa County Improvement Corp. to assist with funding an avian study before proceeding with the project, Mayor Brown said.

Elmore has taken steps in that direction as well, authorizing a study of meteorological conditions to see if wind turbines are feasible.

Last year, Oregon City Council in Lucas County heard a presentation on the benefits of wind-powered generators. It referred the matter to council's public utilities and environmental committee.

In Bryan, the Williams County community is spending $110,000 in state and federal grants to see if the city would be a good place to place wind turbines.

Wind towers, albeit on a smaller scale, are beginning to sprout in rural Ottawa County, said Walter Wehenkel, Ottawa County's regional planning director.

The agency is working with townships on zoning to regulate placement of privately owned wind turbines, including issues such as tower height and "fall zones" to protect nearby buildings. The planning agency has handled about a half-dozen requests to date, he said.

"Our information is more geared toward individuals," said Mr. Wehenkel, whose agency is not involved in the Port Clinton resolution.

Wind generators on private land, designed to power houses or small buildings, are generally limited to 75 feet in height and have turbine blades that measure 8 to 10 feet, as compared to the maximum height of 390 feet of the extended turbine blades in Bowling Green.

Bowling Green's wind farm, owned by a consortium of small towns, generates 7.2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,560 homes.

But building wind turbines close to Lake Erie may be more problematic.

Mr. Wehenkel and Mr. Papcun expressed concern over migratory bird flight paths over Ottawa County, and the area's numerous eagle nests.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has addressed placement of wind turbines because of the birds' flight path, but does not issue permits for the structures, said Nicholas Throckmorton, spokesman for the agency. The agency's field offices can act as consultants for the project, he said, to help avoid wildlife concerns.

In 2002, the wildlife service established national guidelines for siting wind turbines.

Ottawa County is home to a growing number of nesting eagles, a protected species that could complicate siting wind turbines along the lake, where the birds often hunt. Last year, 366 bald eagles were reported across Ohio, including 247 adults and 119 eaglets.

The major concentrations of eagle nests is in northwest Ohio in the western Lake Erie marsh, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which last year reported 16 nests in Ottawa County and 11 in Erie County.

Mary Knapp, field supervisor with the Fish and Wildlife's Ohio office in Rey-
noldsburg, said federal regulations prohibit human activity within 100 meters or more of an eagle's nest, depending on location and vegetation.

Ottawa County's Mr. Papcun said an avian study could help address those concerns.

Mr. Papcun said Ottawa County plans a meeting with representatives from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to iron out potential problems. The meeting is tentatively set for June, he said.

Contact Jim Sielicki at:
jsielicki@theblade.com
or 419-724-6078.




Source: http://toledoblade.com/apps...

APR 11 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/2123-ottawa-county-wind-use-generates-interest-in-region
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