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Group seeks to inform on wind farms

February 8, 2012

If an international corporation builds the wind farm north of Wapa-koneta, the towers and blades will stretch more than 40 stories into the sky — visible to people as far away as three miles, members of a new local group say — and they believe local people should have input regarding if the project should proceed or stop.

The group — Auglaize Neighbors United — recently formed to disseminate information to the public about the advantages and disadvantages of wind farms in the area, especially those planned north of Wapakoneta.

“We have formed because we are concerned about local input into this process,” local attorney and Auglaize Neighbors United member Mike Burton told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “These industrial wind farms are regulated by the Ohio Power Siting Board, so once the developer has the land leased, has done their environmental studies and their transmission studies they then can file an application with the Ohio Power Siting Board.

“We believe once the application has been filed then the ability for public input is somewhat limited,” he said. “The group has been formed to educate the public, try to provide both sides of the story — some of the advantages and disadvantages of this industry — and try to have the community reach a consensus about whether or not this is a good project for this area.”

Burton said they also understand and want to stress that public input is best to have early in the process rather than later when the application has already been filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board. The Ohio Power Siting Board also holds a public hearing, but public input rarely dissuades the board from approving the application.

U.S. Mainstream Renewable Power Inc., headquartered in Chicago with its parent company’s headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, is looking at potentially 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 small parts of Noble Township and Shawnee Township in Allen County. The company has 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 receive about $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.

A similar wind farm project completed in Van Wert and Paulding counties, a larger project, generates approximately 400 megawatts of power.

“For the public meeting, we intend to educate the public on both sides of these issues,” Burton said. “We think that Mainstream Renewable Energy has been in our community for approximately one year, only sharing one side of the story with landowners.

“We hope to educate the public, raise awareness, hold these meetings, show a movie and try to get people engaged in whether or not the community as a whole is in favor of this project,” he said.

The organization, which to date is comprised of 25 people, has scheduled three public informational meetings, with the first set for 3 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Buckland Community Center, and 7 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Wapakoneta High School large group room and 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Cridersville Elementary School cafetorium.

The group also is making arrangements for a viewing of the documentary, “Windfall,” a movie about windfarms. A date of the viewing has yet to be set.

The group also has a website at www.noauglaizewind.org and a Facebook page.

Burton said people with an interest in this topic should attend to obtain more information and anybody within a two- to three-mile radius of the proposed project will be affected and is encouraged to attend.

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