Wind project considers county

An international renewable energy company is considering Auglaize County as a site for a wind farm.
U.S. Mainstream Renewable Power Inc. has completed preliminary studies for a proposed 100-megawatt project in portions of Duchouquet, Logan and Moulton townships, said Greg Myers, president of the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council.
“The company plans to continue to conduct in depth analysis throughout 2012 to further determine the wind speeds and the overall feasibility for the development of a wind generation project,” Myers said.
He said the company is discussing lease opportunities with local landowners regarding their properties that are appropriate for wind turbine development but are still in preliminary stages.
No applications or preapplications for a project in Auglaize County have been filed at this point, Matt Butler, spokesman for the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, told the Wapakoneta Daily News this morning.
“That’s not to say there aren’t developers interested in Auglaize County, as most wind projects have been in Northwest Ohio,” Butler said. “Certainly we’ve been hearings things and talk of wind projects in Auglaize County in recent weeks.”
Dan Schumann, senior development project manager with Mainstream, said they are hoping construction of a wind farm here could happen in 2014 or early 2015, but they are still in the preliminary stages of a minimum 3-year process.
“It’s a long, delicate process of analysis during which we have to look at a broad range of concerns for feasibility,” Schumann said.
“We are taking our time and trying to do it right,” he said. “With any wind project the keys are wind, land, a supportive community, the ability to connect to an electric grid, a good market and stable rules.”
Schumann said the area north of Wapakoneta which they are looking at is being considered because of its large open areas of agricultural land, but for other factors as well, including an ability to sell the power, once it would become available.
Project developers also work closely with fish and wildlife officials and to address environmental concerns.
“There’s a long list of things we need to do before we can go for a state permit,” Schumann said.
Schumann said while their general target is developing a wind farm to produce 100 megawatts of power, the exact number of turbines it may contain is unknown.
He said once developed a wind farm can feed favorably into a county’s tax base and the community seems to be a nice balance of agriculture and industry which works well for this type of project. In most projects, only a small portion of the adjacent land could no longer be farmed.
Wind farms are becoming more common in the West Central Ohio region with one built and one approved in Van Wert County, another built in Paulding County, another scheduled for construction in Hardin County, and one proposed in Putnam County.
Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Mainstream has established wind and solar energy projects in eight countries on four continents. It is Europe’s leading offshore wind energy developer with a portfolio of 5,500 megawatts across Scottland, England and Germany. It is also developing more than 10,000 megawatts of onshore wind projects in the U.S., Canada, Chile, South Africa and Ireland.
In addition to wind development, Mainstream is developing 750 megawatts of solar power projects in the U.S., Canadian and South African markets.
The company’s U.S. headquarters are located in Chicago.