Nearly 170 people turned out for a public meeting held Tuesday by Auglaize Neighbors United (ANU) to gather information about the proposed wind turbine project in the county.
ANU member Mike Burton used a PowerPoint presentation to provide a different outlook on how the proposed wind turbine project will affect Auglaize County residents when compared to statistics being put forward by representatives of Mainstream Renewable Power Inc., the private company investigating the possibility of putting a wind farm in the county.
“Our viewpoint is that Ohio is a low capacity wind generation state,” Burton told the audience.
Burton also noted the county’s landscape is not conducive to such a project and the industry has largely been artificially created to support state mandates and federal and state tax credits or abatements in an effort to increase the use of renewable energy across the country.
A current mandate initiated by former Gov. Ted Strickland’s administration calls for Ohio to produce or to purchase 25 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2025, with half of that coming from sources such as wind and solar power.
Burton said what began as a $5 million per year subsidy has now grown to $1 billion per year. He remarked 80 percent of the money is going to foreign countries and the mandate has created 6,000 jobs in foreign countries.
Burton touched on several key issues other communities have faced due to wind turbine farms, including landscape problems, reduction in property values, health concerns, lack of local control and zoning and economics.
“You are basically talking about building 75 skyscrapers around Buckland,” Burton said of the 450-foot structures.
For comparison, Burton showed heights of other structures, such as transmission towers, that stand approximately 125 feet. The turbines put in place if the project goes forward would stand nearly four times that height.
Burton said sightlines would be hampered for the Land of the Cross Tipped Churches, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wapakoneta and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Glynnwood are in the proposed area to build the towers.
Burton said the population density of Auglaize County is approximately 84 people per square mile, more than two to four times the normal 20 to 40 person density in Iowa, where wind farms are common.
He also discussed shadow flicker from the turbines, which has been said to not only cause a source of annoyance to residents living in close proximity, but they could also potentially trigger epileptic seizures.
Milo Schaffner, a township trustee in Hoaglin Township in Van Wert County, also spoke and re-enforced many of Burton’s comments based on the wind turbines that have sprung up in his area.
“At the time a landowner signs a lease, he has given up a significant amount of control of his land,” Schaffner said.
Schaffner showed pictures of roads in his township in disrepair from construction crews putting up the turbines.
“A lot of people wanted me to tell you about this,” Schaffner said of problems with the wind turbines. “It’s tearing up a lot of communities. My wife doesn’t want to live there any more.”
Burton said residents had to make it apparent they didn’t want the turbines constructed in the area.
“It’s important that people sign the petitions,” Burton said. “Talk to the politicians and your neighbors. You have to be vigilant.”
After the meeting, residents questioned appeared to be overwhelmingly against the project.
“I am opposed to the project,” Rollie Wellington said, who lives on Kohler Road in Moulton Township. “I am opposed from the standpoint of the economic and environmental impact and the loss of control of the land and our land value. I support this organization fully.”
“I don’t agree with it,” John Schlegel said. “There is too much unforeseen in the future.”
The group plans to have another meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at the elementary school in Cridersville.
U.S. Mainstream Renewable Power Inc., headquartered in Chicago with its parent company’s headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, is looking at potentially building wind turbines on 60 to 70 sites in Ohio. The company is focusing on an area that includes large portions of Duchouquet, Logan and Moulton townships in Auglaize County, as well as parts of Noble Township and Shawnee Township in Allen County.
Company executives set a target of approximately 8,000 to 10,000 acres of property to lease from interested owners to build wind turbines that would generate about 1.5 to 2.5 megawatts of power per turbine.
Company executives said they are looking at generating between 100 and 150 megawatts of power per year in the area. The company has already signed up more than 5,000 acres in property from owners interested in leasing their land. At the earliest, the wind farm plans would begin being laid out in 2014-2015.
Homeowners must sign a long-term lease and would receive approximately $7,000 to $10,000 per year for each turbine plus a small per acre land usage stipend of approximately $30 per acre per year.
Company officials claim they have already signed leases for approximately half of its intended target of property.
Auglaize Neighbors United is to hold a meeting on windfarms at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Cridersville Elementary School cafetorium.