If one drives from Bellevue to Attica you will notice the numerous Anti-Wind for Seneca County signs in the front yards of homes. They do far out-number the Pro-Wind Energy signs. One will also be struck that most of the pro-wind signs are in areas without homes; just open fields. And on the evening of May 31st a trip to the Attica Fairgrounds was clearly a meeting for SAWU to address over 500 supporters.
Before the primary speaker addressed the crowd, two SAWU leaders, Chris Zeman and Deb Hay spoke to their supporters. Zeman, addressing the possibility of 58 wind turbines with the Republic Wind Project at 591 ft. focused on two needs. One need is that the set-backs, presently at 1,125 ft. from property lines, should be changed. He and SAWU support the bill sponsored by Sen. Matt Dolan (R) that would put the set-back to 1,450 ft. And for the second need, he was clear that the constituents of the affected areas “have a right to a vote”, which received a quite loud applause. Deb Hay stated that the McCulley amendment sponsored by Senator Rob McColley (R) was important and would allow local residents to vote on the future of the wind projects in their communities.
The evening's main speaker was Kevon Martis, the Executive Director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition (IICC) of Blissfield MI and also a senior policy fellow of the Energy and Environment Legal Institute in Washington DC. According to his website, Kevon has testified numerous times before the Ohio House and Senate Public Utilities Committees. Kevon also has testified on wind energy land use issues across the Midwest, including OH, IL, MI and Kentucky as well as in Nebraska and North Dakota. Martis has also been invited to testify before members of Congress in Washington, DC.
Kevon began his discussion with levity, by announcing it was a "dark day for Ohio to turbine to a University of Michigan graduate to be their guest speaker." After a cascade of laughter throughout the crowd Martis became very serious.
He suggests that Ohio is one of the few states to not allow local communities to decide their fate with wind turbines. In Ohio the state government decide. Martis claims that the wind turbines in the 17 local Michigan referendums all went down to defeat. Kevon made mention that in five impacted Michigan counties all the county commissioners who supported the wind turbines went down to defeat.
According to Kevon "Apex wants this discussion to be about green energy, but the real issue is safety." He continued with claiming "Ohio wind is uncompetitive." He claims that the cost per megawatt [hour] in Ohio is $61-$80, but in most other states with large wind turbine projects the cost is $25-$30. And compared to the state of Iowa, Ohio has a 3-1 disadvantage.
Kevon suggested that Apex claims billions of dollars will be brought to the state of Ohio along with many jobs. However, Martis claims most of that money will leave the state and very few long term jobs in the state of Ohio will be created.
According to Kevon the Ohio Siting Board, which approves the wind turbine projects, has adopted a "one size fits all" for all communities in Ohio. He suggests that health and safety must come first and in order for that to happen citizens must be in touch with their elected state officials. At the May 31st SAWU event a number of politicians were present, including 88th District State Rep Bill Reineke (R) and his Democratic opponent, Rachel Crooks. Also present was County Commissioner Mike Kerchner (R) and his Democratic opponent Cheryl Radin-Norman.