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Buckeye Wind's application accepted

Construction of the first commercial-scale wind-powered electric generation facility in Ohio could begin as early as next summer in Champaign County if the Ohio Power Siting Board approves the proposal submitted in April by Buckeye Wind, LLC., a subsidiary of Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. which recently finished construction of its first project, located in Pennsylvania. As the first, the decisions made by officials likely will set precedent for future applications and preview the process for any possible future applications in Logan County.

Construction of the first commercial-scale wind-powered electric generation facility in Ohio could begin as early as next summer in Champaign County if the Ohio Power Siting Board approves the proposal submitted in April by Buckeye Wind, LLC., a subsidiary of Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. which recently finished construction of its first project, located in Pennsylvania.

As the first, the decisions made by officials likely will set precedent for future applications and preview the process for any possible future applications in Logan County.

The move comes despite continuing opposition from Union Neighbors United and other residents expressing concern about setbacks and issues possibly arising from placement near homes.

A public hearing date had been set for Oct. 8, but will be pushed into November at the earliest after the OPSB requested more information from Everpower at the end of July.

According to Everpower spokesman Michael Speerschneider, submitted plans place the nearest turbine approximately four miles from the Logan County line near south Kennard Road.

All 70 turbines planned are east of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Construction of the first commercial-scale wind-powered electric generation facility in Ohio could begin as early as next summer in Champaign County if the Ohio Power Siting Board approves the proposal submitted in April by Buckeye Wind, LLC., a subsidiary of Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. which recently finished construction of its first project, located in Pennsylvania.

As the first, the decisions made by officials likely will set precedent for future applications and preview the process for any possible future applications in Logan County.

The move comes despite continuing opposition from Union Neighbors United and other residents expressing concern about setbacks and issues possibly arising from placement near homes.

A public hearing date had been set for Oct. 8, but will be pushed into November at the earliest after the OPSB requested more information from Everpower at the end of July.

According to Everpower spokesman Michael Speerschneider, submitted plans place the nearest turbine approximately four miles from the Logan County line near south Kennard Road.

All 70 turbines planned are east of U.S. Route 68, on nearly 9,000 acres leased from approximately 60 landowners in six townships primarily between the community of Cable and village of Mutual.

The area is part of a ridge that runs from Champaign County through Logan and Hardin counties. The threecounty area is one of the windiest in Ohio, which is ranked 36th in wind power potential by the American Wind Energy Association.

According to the application, the project will employ between 131 and 182 people in the construction phase, with approximately 12 full-time jobs being created.

A specific turbine model has not yet been chosen by Everpower, but the company is looking at 1.8 to 2.5 megawatts for each, with a total capacity in the range of 150 MW. The turbines, from the base to the tallest point of the blades, are estimated to be 490 feet tall.

In comparison, the tallest building in downtown Columbus, the Rhodes State Office Tower, rises 629 feet.

Sites in southern Logan County were intended to be included in the proposal, but plans have been indefinitely delayed "primarily (by) an environmental permitting issue," Mr. Speerschneider said. "It required a little more time to address and we are working with the (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) with that and keeping our options open. ... It's a much less certain possibility, but it is a possibility."

The discovery late last year of federally-endangered Indiana bats living within the area prompted the need for additional wildlife issues to be addressed.

He also said "other environmental issues came up," but declined to specify.

Some of the power introduced into the transmission grid still is likely to be supplied to Logan County, though tracing actual electrons is nearly impossible.

"To say that a lot of the electrons produced by the turbines would stay local and go to local demand, is probably a fair guess, but all of these generators need to supply demand within the region," he said.

OPSB regulations as they currently stand will require turbine models being considered to be placed at least 914 feet from the nearest residence, according to Mr. Speerschneider, who added that Everpower's average for the project is more than 1,000 feet.

Diane McConnell explained that UNU's primary objection to the project lies with the proximity of turbines to people.

"They're measuring from our homes and not our property lines," she said. "(General Electric) recommends 1,300 feet from your property line because they say that it is unsafe for children or their workers to hang out under the turbines."

Under current state codes, the considered turbines would need to be placed at least 541 feet from property lines.

UNU, which formed approximately two years ago, is officially listed as an intervenor application process, but says it is not opposed to wind energy.

"We're for safe siting and land use planning so ... the neighbors aren't impacted by the noise and health issues that seem to be coming more as more of these projects are being put up."

The group also has expressed concern regarding shadow flicker, created when the rotating blades come between the sun and an area, particularly a house.

No state or federal guidelines are in place regarding the number of hours flicker can occur in a residence, but European and Australian sources recommend no more than 30 per year.

According to Everpower's application, 2,087 residences are within 1.06 miles of a turbine. Of those, 765 will be affected by shadow flicker, with seven of them affected more than 30 hours annually. The highest is 57 hours.

"That's quite a lot, especially if you're made nauseous by the flickering lights," Mrs. McConnell said. "It would impact your lifestyle pretty greatly. For the amount of energy you're receiving, you're also receiving a lot of hassle."

However, Dale Thompson with Champaign Advocates for Renewable Energy, a group which aims to help educate the public on renewable sources in general, believes such fears are being exaggerated and boil down to one issue:

"They can say they're a health risk, and they can say that they're a danger to the community, but the underlying issue is they just don't want to look at it. Period," he said.

"Our group's biggest goal is just to educate. We are pro turbines, but we've also tried to be unbiased and bring in experts in the area. There are so many untruths out there. We've shown statistics in areas where these turbines are ... the cancer rates has not gone up and people are getting plenty of rest."

The group, which also formed approximately two years ago as a result of public outcry for facts, has conducted several public information sessions with a variety of experts they say have used science to debunk most of the myths associated with wind turbines.

"I've had people come up to me after meetings who were adamantly opposed to the turbines before, but say they've changed their minds," Mr. Thompson said. "In the areas that I travel (with turbines), even neighbors who were opposed to it years ago, now they're saying that they're not that bad. They're actually nice to look at."

He and Mr. Speerschneider both report strong community support in Champaign County despite opposition efforts, and have seen fears diminish in other areas where turbines have been constructed.

Mrs. McConnell, however, reports receiving telephone calls from people all over the United States who now live near the structures and are seeing their fears prior to construction become a reality.

All documents submitted and replies from the OPSB can be viewed online at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=08-0666.


Source: http://www.examiner.org/ind...

AUG 19 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21807-buckeye-wind-s-application-accepted
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