You can feel its sting on a raw January day when the snow blows parallel to the ground. On a warm spring day you can feel it ruffle your hair and brush your skin as it passes by.
You can’t see the wind, but you know it is there. With interest and legislative
mandates for renewable energy in Ohio, harnessing that wind for energy will be an important part of the state’s renewable energy portfolio in the future, though it is not without controversy. Land use, property value, birds and wildlife and public safety are a few of the concerns with wind energy, but there are clear benefits to the use of wind energy. Energy users stand to benefit from the additional source of energy and landowners have the chance at a new revenue stream from their property.
“There are a broad range of opinions in the area,” said Fred Cooke, the Farm Bureau president in Richland County, one of the sites being considered for a wind farm. “It depends on what you want to believe, but we need more energy in this country and if we can use the wind, it makes a lot of sense to me.”
Cooke has led groups from the county to tour wind farms in other states and learned a lot from the experience.
“According to homeowners we talked to in Indiana, they forget the turbines are there after a couple of weeks,” Cooke said. “There are legitimate concerns with this, but it creates jobs and additional revenue for communities and gain for the landowners. There is that fact that some people just don’t like to look at them, but I also have neighbors that think it is the greatest thing that could happen in a community.”
For several years, a number of wind companies have been researching Ohio’s wind resources and preparing proposals for wind farms. In this process, the companies lease land that has potential as a wind site and erect anemometers to collect extensive wind data. From there, they move forward with proposals that take into account the wind resources, proximity to transmission lines, environmental factors, and many other considerations. The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) then reviews these proposals. The OPSB Web site currently lists 6 pending cases involving wind farms in Van Wert, Paulding, Richland, Crawford, Hardin, and Champaign counties. This month, OPSB is announcing the parameters for 3 of these proposed wind projects around Ohio.
“OPSB conducts extensive reviews of the proposals and prepares a report naming the conditions of their approval. This month we will likely see the final vote and approval of OSPB on three of the projects,” said Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of energy policy. “Once they approve the projects, construction can start. The OPSB gives the wind companies the permission to proceed and we could see construction starting this summer or fall for some of these projects.”
The projects range in size from 25 turbines producing 50 megawatts of energy on up to as many as 100 2-megawatt turbines over a 5 to 6 township area — 1 megawatt meets the energy needs of 300 to 400 homes.
Arnold also points out that the wind farms of Ohio will be very different from the vast expanses of turbines out west. The terrain of Ohio, higher population, and environmental factors of Ohio will result in smaller clusters of turbines that tie into the existing power infrastructure.
This first round of wind projects in Ohio will likely lead to more projects that capitalize on the wind energy advantages in the northern and western parts of the state.
“Though our wind resources are lower than other states to the west, the advantage with Ohio is that we are close to transmission lines. In fact, we have two major lines running right through our project,” said Mike Pullins, with Everpower, the wind company behind the Buckeye Wind Project in Champaign County. “And, we have the population close by to use the energy. When you transport electricity, you lose a portion of it. The further you go, the more you lose. Ohio is a crossroads for energy and we can be more efficient in the distribution and use of wind energy than they can further west…This is one more way to utilize the resources we have to create jobs, energy and benefit the economy.”
Even if we can’t see it, we’ve always known the wind was there. It seems like it is about time we make good use of it.
Matt Reese writes for Ohio’s Country Journal and lives in Baltimore, Ohio. For questions or comments, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.