COLUMBUS — EverPower Wind Holdings’ proposed Scioto Ridge Wind Farm got formal approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board during a Monday hearing in Columbus.
The order passed by the board contains 28 conditions that include requiring the company to put in place a procedure neighbors of the development can follow to issue complaints about noise or shadow flicker. The conditions also address wildlife concerns and possible archaeological and architectural sites that may be uncovered when construction starts.
“That’s something that will be on file when the project is built – the complaint resolution and mitigation process,” EverPower project manager Jason Dagger said.
The decision in its entirety allows EverPower to begin moving forward with a project to build a 300 megawatt wind development with up to 176 industrial wind turbines in northern Logan and southern Hardin counties. The project is expected to begin in 2015.
As part of its ruling, the siting board said it does not have jurisdiction over many issues – such as tax incentives or a public vote on the development – that opponents of the project raised during a January public hearing.
“We find that, based on the evidence of record, these projects will generate clean renewable electric energy, increase tax revenue for schools and local governments, create construction and manufacturing jobs, and assist economic development efforts in the counties,” the order reads. “We also find that there is minimal risk to human life and safety as a result of blade shear or turbine fires. We note that there was insufficient evidence that the projects would negatively impact wildlife or impact property values.”
Dagger called the decision a “solid step forward” for the project.
“The siting process is very long, comprehensive and thorough,” he said. “We have done a great deal of work to get to this point. We feel some of the concerns of trustees and the general public have already been addressed and are part of the application and these conditions.”
Dagger said the conditions are basically statements of plans that were already in place to deal with issues that may arise.
“At the end of the day, the conditions are very similar to what the operating wind farms in other parts of the state are operating under,” he said. “Our (project) is under a somewhat different set of rules because our setbacks are greater from non-participating homes. Ours is a little more conservatively sited than those.”
Among some of the points in the order, noise limitations for the wind turbines, measured at the exterior of a non-participating home, were limited to five decibels above the ambient nighttime noise level; setbacks from property lines remain at 1.1 times the total turbine height, or about 550 feet, and 1,125 feet from homes; and shadow flicker inside a non-participating home was limited to 30 hours per year.
Now, parties to the case, which includes intervenor Joe Grant, have 30 calendar days file for a new hearing on the matter, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio spokesman Matt Butler said. Following a board decision there would be a 60-day window to file an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which has final say on the matter.
By REUBEN MEES