BELLEFONTAINE – Boondoggle. Swindle. Parasitical. Perverted.
These were just a few of the many unflattering terms used by over two dozen speakers on Tuesday to describe the proposed Scioto Ridge Wind Farm, slated to get underway within the next year in northern Logan and southwest Hardin counties.
Logan County Commissioners John Bayliss, Tony Core and Dustin Wickersham are mulling a proposal from EverPower, a subsidiary of the British conglomerate Terra Firma, for a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) to Logan County following the construction of 18 wind turbines in Richland and Rushcreek townships as part of the Scioto Ridge project. The payment to the county – which will preempt EverPower from being taxed at existing utility rates over the next 20 years – is expected to be between $350,000 and $500,000 annually. Another 87 turbines are scheduled to be erected in Hardin County as a part of the Scioto Ridge Wind Farm.
While not required by statute to do so, the Logan County Commission hosted an open forum at the Holland Theatre in downtown Bellefontaine May 17 to allow the public to voice opinions of the Scioto Ridge project. During the three-hour meeting, none of the 30-odd speakers who addressed the commissioners, with the exception of EverPower’s Jason Dagger, spoke in favor of the proposed wind farm.
One speaker likened the PILOT to 30 pieces of silver. Another said that any landowner who would accept the $8,000-$10,000 annual payment for allowing EverPower to erect the wind turbines on their land as “incredibly stupid.” Others cited health concerns to both humans and animals because of shadow flicker and noise pollution created by the turbines, which will reach 60-feet higher than the turbines at Honda Transmission in Russells Point. Still others bemoaned falling property values and the added stress put on local, mostly volunteer, fire departments. Some simply objected to the ascetics of the towers, saying that the sight of the turbines would blight the skyline around Belle Center and the Indian Lake basin.
Prior to opening the floor, Commissioner Wickersham said that the commissioners have until June 21 to make a decision on whether Logan County will accept the PILOT proposal. EverPower has said publicly that should the commissioners reject the PILOT, plans for the 18 turbines in Logan County will be abandoned. EverPower agreed earlier this year to scrap plans for an additional 65 turbines that would have been located within 2.5 miles of Indian Lake, but the Scioto Ridge project will continue as planned in Hardin County.
Three significant portions of western Hardin County – including the land encompassed by the Scioto Ridge project – have been designated as “alternative energy zones” for EverPower with the blessing of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) and the Hardin County commissioners. Other ventures – Hardin Wind Farm and Hog Creek Wind Farm I and II – have received the go-ahead from the OPSB and the Hardin County commissioners.
The completion of all four projects will make Hardin County the largest producer of wind-generated electricity in the state, as the proposed Hardin Wind and Hog Creek Farms fall completely within the borders of Hardin County. Those projects, when added to the 87 proposed turbines for the the Scioto Ridge project, will give Hardin County over 320 turbines.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.