Last week about 160 people attended the public hearing before the Ohio Power Siting Board regarding the construction of the Scioto Ridge Wind Farm in southern Hardin and northern Logan counties.
"The wind farm will not be built right away. There's no construction planned for 2014. We'll see what 2015 looks like."
— Jason Dagger, EverPower representative
Testimony of those who spoke at the hearing ranged from support for the economic development and tax revenue the 176 wind turbines proposed by EverPower would generate to the concerns of people who find their homes potentially changed by the project.
Jason Dagger, of EverPower, met with the Hardin County Commissioners Thursday to respond to some of the concerns and assure the county Scioto Ridge plans to be an asset.
Of all the concerns, said Dagger, the consistent complaint that EverPower didn’t let the public know of its plans to construct turbines in the area near Belle Center surprised him the most.
“I take a little of that to heart,” he told the commissioners.
With very few exceptions, Dagger explained, he had been responsible for meeting with property owners and signing leases for the development of the project. That process began in the spring of 2008, he said.
Testing equipment has been installed in the area, he met with all the trustees impacted by the plans in both Hardin and Logan counties and community meetings were held in locally positioned parts of the community.
Only a handful of people showed up for the meetings, said Dagger.
In addition to those developments, there has been coverage of the plans in the area newspapers, including the coverage of a the building of a logistics center with plans to offload the turbines as they arrive in the county.
Also, he noted, two other wind energy developments were announced they were coming into the county prior to the EverPower plans.
“At this point,” said Dagger, “I don’t know what we could have done better.”
But, he continued, the company hears the concerns of their new neighbors and hopes to make their entrance into the community a positive process.
The size of the development is misunderstood, said Dagger. While the company’s plans submitted to the Siting Board call for 176 turbines to be built throughout Lynn, McDonald, Roundhead, Taylor Creek, Richland and Rushcreek townships, the number constructed may be significantly lower.
EverPower is seeking permission to construct a facility capable of creating 300 megawatts of power. If the company uses the smallest of the commercial turbines being considered at 1.7 megawatts each, that would result in the number of 176 turbines, but the models used are expected to be larger, cutting the number of units needed to meet the production number.
“We could be around 100 if we use the bigger turbines,” Dagger told the commissioners.
Another misrepresentation from the meeting was that other wind farms are located in more remote areas than what is found in the Hardin-Logan county community. He pointed to the recent construction of turbines in the Van Wert-Paulding county area as an example of what the Scioto Ridge facility would look like upon construction.
“In Van Wert and Paulding counties the turbines are not a part of the landscape; they are the landscape,” said Commissioner Brice Beaman. “I think that is the concern of these folks. You are going to change their landscape.”
During the hearing, residents said the turbines will be close enough to their homes to impact them with noise and “shadow flicker” from the rotating blades. The turbines will be within the state’s required distance from homes, Dagger said Thursday.
Beaman said some of the homeowners have suggested the company compensate them for the inconveniences they will experience due to the development.
Dagger said there are no plans for that at this point of the project.
"We hear the public's concerns and will take them into consideration," Dagger said.
"The wind farm will not be built right away. There's no construction planned for 2014, he said, adding, we'll see what 2015 looks like."
Commissioner Ed Elliott noted there are currently six wind turbines operating in the county and only half of them are working.
But Dagger said comparing the wind turbines at Upper Scioto Valley Schools, Ohio Northern University and Ada Schools to the commercial turbines being installed by EverPower is not reasonable. The company who installed the units on those campuses does not have maintenance people available on site to make repairs when the turbines stop turning.
Those turbines are much smaller than the 500-foot units being planned for Scioto Ridge, he continued.
“They are 200-plus-feet tall. They don’t capture the wind they need,” said Dagger. “Our turbines are more advanced. We will monitor them on site and remotely, as well.”
Finally, Dagger said, the existing turbines are used as supplemental sources of energy for the schools they serve. EverPower is a for-profit company and it wants to make sure the turbines are profitable and working.
While some of the landowners who don’t have leases with the company don’t think they will benefit from the Scioto Ridge development, said Dagger, the impact of the facility will have a ripple effect on the community by creating jobs and tax revenue for the townships, counties and schools.
“Plus there will be increased economic activity,” he told the commissioners.
“If farmers have added money, they tend to spend it.”