Wind power make 1st appearance in Ohio, ‘churning up cash’

"A transformation of the economic landscape … economic impact … as massive as the 480-foot-tall wind turbines with their 150-foot blades … " Those are some of the words used by Toledo Blade reporter Larry P. Vellequette to describe what is happening, as utility-scale wind farm plants make their first appearance in the Buckeye State.

Eight new wind energy projects planned for northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan will add up to $2.8 billion in investment and generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of some 400,000 homes.

Adds Vellequette, "Farmers who lease their land to wind farm developers for as much as $500 a month for 20 years for each wind turbine gain a new steady source of income. Schools and local governments will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in new annual payments in lieu of taxes from wind farms built on small pieces of tax-abated former farmland.

"Hundreds of construction workers have spent much of the last two years erecting the giant monopole wind turbines [for the Timber Road II wind farm, which began generating electricity in July], and a lesser number of workers will gain permanent jobs maintaining them."

It’s an infusion of investment, jobs, dependable farm income and tax revenue that many states are finding appealing, but that unfortunately is threatened by the impending expiration of a federal tax incentive, scheduled to end December 31, 2012. The tax credit has been allowed to expire three times in the past 12 years, and each time, sales of wind equipment have plunged. Let’s hope that this time, Congressional decisionmakers can avoid raising taxes on this clean, affordable, homegrown energy source that has proven so effective in fostering rural economic development and new manufacturing jobs.

Tom Gray,