|HB 483 puts Putnam wind farm in jeopardy|
|Sunday, July 13, 2014 8:00 PM|
By Nancy Kline
This was the message Jim O’Conner, project developer with Iberdrola Renewables, brought to the Putnam County Commissioners on Thursday. O’Connor said Gov. Kasich’s approval of the bill has a huge impact in whether Iberdrola will move forward with the project.
Iberdrola has contracts with 200 landowners to meet the former requirements needed to put in 45 wind turbines, each producing 3.3 megawatts for a total project capacity of 150 megawatts.
Setback requirements were changed for wind turbines in House Bill 483. The former setbacks required 1,250 feet plus the length of the blade from the nearest inhabited residence. The new rulings make the setbacks 1,250 feet from the nearest property lines.
O’Connor said this will mean having to acquire set-back waivers from 50 percent more properties.
“Iberdrola is currently considering if it is viable for them to move forward,” O’Connor said.
Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 483 on June 16, just days after signing another bill that freezes and alters Ohio’s renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards.
O’Connor said failure to obtain all the needed waivers from property owners could mean building less wind turbines and producing less megawatts.
He said although they are confident about the sale of energy to end users, the upfront fixed expense includes and $18 million interconnect fee, making a smaller project producing less megawatts an unviable project.
“Iberdrola has $300 million to invest,” O’Connor explained. “They have to look at where it is best to make this investment."
“The Commissioners are clearly demonstrating leadership in the promotion of policies which attract renewable energy development and the economic development benefits that the Leipsic Wind Farm can bring to Putnam County,” O’Connor said, referring to the commissioners’ passage on July 8 of amended language regarding how the tax collected is distributed. The vote was 2-1 on this with Putnam County Commissioner Travis Jerwers voting no.
“The question is does a receptive county trump an unreceptive state?” O’Connor asked. “Ohio now has 62 factories manufacturing parts for wind energy.”
Iberdrola already has easement agreements with 200 landowners in this area. Johnson said this will mean Iberdrola will provide an estimated $1 million in annual direct revenue for these landowners for the use of their property. The company plans to honor all their option payments to these landowners.
Initial figures from Iberdrola Renewables indicated if the project should develop there would be over $1.3 million in annual payments to local taxing bodies.
“I’ll continue to push for a corporate blessing on this project,” O’Connor said, “but these requirement have made it challenging.”
Putnam County Commissioner John Love recommended Iberdrola host a public meeting to update lease-owners on what is happening.
“You have always been upfront with the public about the project,” Love said. “I think it’s time for another meeting so that questions can be answered about what is going on.”