RUTH — Where will the turbines be located?
This was the most common question asked by people attending an open house of NextEra Energy Resources on Tuesday night at the Ruth Knights of Columbus Hall.
As wind energy protesters picketed outside, Bryan Garner, manager of communications for NextEra Energy Resources, explained that there are a number of steps to go through in the process of establishing a wind overlay district before it is known exactly where the turbines will be built.
The proposed district includes parts of Sand Beach, Delaware and Sherman and Sigel townships.
Among the open-house attendees was Roland Siemen of Sand Beach Township, who says he was “one of the first to sign up years ago” to allow his 370-acre farm to be used as a site for wind turbines.
“I don’t go along with some of the knit-picking going on,” Siemen said. “The ones knit-picking would be the first to squawk if they turned the light on and it wasn’t there.”
About 12 people picketed outside with signs reading “2 Tall, 2 Many, 2 Close,” among others.
Sally Kain of Meade Township was one of them, and explained why she was protesting.
“Huron County already has too many (turbines) and it’s time to stop,” she said. “We are already thoroughly saturated and we’ve met our quota.”
Many of those opposed to the turbines complain about blinking red lights that are visible at night.
But they do not bother Harold Dropeski of Sherman Township, who is hoping to have a contract with NextEra. He farms 430 acres.
“Across the road at night, I can see 50 lights flashing,” he said. “They don’t seem to bother me.”
Once participating landowners were identified, Garner said, the district was outlined, and the number of turbines to be built was determined.
The wind park is expected to hold 65 turbines.
Now the township or county planning commissions will decide whether or not to recommend that their governing bodies approve the district.
Sand Beach and Delaware are self-zoned townships, while Sherman and Sigel are county-zoned.
First, the planning commission for each jurisdiction reviews the district, then it holds a public hearing before voting on whether or not to recommend that the governing body approve it.
Next, the issue will go before the board of trustees in Sand Beach and Delaware townships.
For the turbines to be built in Sherman and Sigel townships, the issue must go before the Huron County Board of Commissioners for final approval.
Once the district is approved by all necessary governing bodies, NextEra will determine where the turbines will be built.
The Huron Wind Energy center is expected to produce 150 megawatts, with each of the 65 turbines having a capacity of 2.3 megawatts.
Each turbine will be 94 meters tall from the ground to the hub in the center of the blades.
Benefits cited by NextEra include the following economic impact over the first 30 years of the project:
• Property taxes: $36 million
• Landowner payments: $24 million
• Construction jobs: 200
• Full-time operations jobs: 6-10
• Capital cost: $260 million