Ohio approves large scale wind power plant

The board also approved plans by Buckeye Wind LLC to build up to 54 wind turbines in Champaign County and authorized JW Great Lakes Wind LLC to construct up to 27 wind turbines in Hardin County. Under Ohio’s alternative energy plan, 25 percent of electricity sold in the state must be generated from alternative energy sources by 2025.

Hardin Wind Energy LLC, an affiliate of Invenergy, plans to install 300 MW of wind turbines across 20,000 acres of leased land in Hardin County. The Applicant will use 200 wind turbines capable of producing 1.5 MW each.

Hardin Wind opened a case number for an application on June 5, 2009, and held a public informational meeting on June 23, 2009. The application for the Hardin County Wind Farm was filed on July 10, 2009. An amended application was filed on September 18, 2009. The Applicant plans to begin construction in the 4th quarter of 2010.

Wind power is the wave of the future, and Hardin County is going to be on the cutting edge of the industry thanks to Invenergy, a clean and renewable energy company.

Invenergy has formed the Hardin County Wind Energy LLC in order to bring the Hardin County Wind Farm to fruition. As described by Vice President of Development Dave Groberg, Invenergy will be managing, developing, constructing and operating the wind turbines to produce wind energy. "Our main goal is to be an independent energy producer, not a utility," Groberg noted.

Nazre Adum, Project Director and Coordinator, has been in the business 20 years, and works out of the Washington, D.C. office. He touted the Hardin County Wind Farm as being the largest wind farm in the Midwest, and the first to seek permit under the new "Wind Rule" by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).

Last year, the Ohio legislature passed a bill that said a certain percentage of energy that was used by utility companies must be purchased from a clean energy source. Out of this percentage, a certain amount must be purchased within Ohio, thus the interest in developing wind farms.

Adum explained that the process began two years ago with research that measured the wind that blows through Hardin County. Three special MET towers were constructed to record wind direction, wind speed and temperature in Hardin County. Daily satellite downloads of data are sent to the home office and analyzed quarterly. One tower has a full year of data collected. Adum noted that several more towers will be needed to continue monitoring the wind. The towers also have bat detectors on them, required by the Department of Natural Resources to record the activity of bats around the towers.

Eric Miller, a developer for Invenergy, commented that "Wind direction is more important than speed because we need to know how to arrange the turbines."

This arrangement is the next step in the process since 120 farmers in six Hardin County Townships have agreed to lease over 23,000 acres to Invenergy for the 320 MW (megawatt) project. The placement of the wind turbines will depend on the highest concentration of wind, the proximity of other wind turbines and the location of residences (there is a 100′ setback rule on a turbine). The arrangement could include two different sizes of wind turbines, a 1.5 MW or a 2.5 MW. "We’re going to put in what makes sense," said Adum.

The interconnection was explained as easier because two electrical grid lines already run through the portion of Hardin County where the wind farm will be. The northern line is a 138 KV (kilo volt) and the southern is a 345 KV. Adum said Hardin County is a good place to connect to the grid because the company would not have to do upgrades beforehand. "It makes the project more viable," he said. There will be two substations built around the connection site.

Hardin County will surely benefit from many aspects of the wind farm development. Adum estimated the total cost of the project to be between $400 and $600 million dollars. Invenergy will be making payments to participating landowners and according to Adum, "will become the largest property tax payer in the community." The construction phase will produce many jobs in the county, and the supplies that will be purchased locally will add up to millions of dollars. Not only suppliers, but all retailers could benefit. Workers will be staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants and shopping in local stores.

Local farmers like Todd Wyss are satisfied with the project. "It’s a win-win situation, it’s earth-friendly, and only a short term inconvenience for farmers," Wyss noted. Wyss farms over 3,000 acres total, and has 800 acres south of McGuffey that are within the project area. One of the measuring towers are on Wyss’ farmland as well. "It will create many jobs…they will have an office in Kenton, too," Wyss said.

Bringing the county money and putting Hardin County on the map for tourism are both important benefits to the wind farm. Invenergy’s recurring theme is the clean and reliable source of wind as the new power source, and where the wind blows…is Hardin County.