VAN WERT — A pair of possible wind farm projects are “on hold” after a pair of legislative actions changed the rules on renewable energy.
Iberdrola Renewables has put its Dog Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and its Leipsic Wind Farm in Putnam County on hold, citing changes to the “setback” rules.
The previous rules required a fall zone for turbines that kept them set back 1,125 feet from the outer wall of the “nearest, habitable residential structure,” or roughly 1,300 feet from its base. The new rules change it to 1,125 feet from the nearest property line.
“We’re disappointed because there were a lot of local benefits to build both projects,” said Dan Litchfield, of Iberdrola Renewables, which runs the existing Blue Creek Wind Farm, a 304-megawatt facility visible from U.S. 30. “They would’ve brought $5 million a year into the local communities.”
On Tuesday, the Putnam County commissioners still passed a resolution designating the county as an alternative energy zone to show its support.
“The Board is willing to provide real and tangible personal property tax exemption to support the development of alternative energy generation facilities, provided the appropriate service payments are made,” according to the resolution.
The Dog Creek Wind Farm called for 50 wind turbines. The new rules would’ve left room for only seven. The Leipsic project called for 75 turbines, but the new rules would’ve only allowed three.
“It’s not just about the money to lease the acreage,” Litchfield said. “Both projects would need about 50 percent more acreage for adjacent properties. … But some people just don’t want to lease their land, for any number of reasons.”
He noted wind energy providers don’t have eminent domain, or the right to force the use of property, like other traditional energy providers do.
The changes shouldn’t affect the Scioto Ridge project, run by Everpower, said Michael Speerschneider, the public policy officer. That 176-turbine project in Hardin and Logan counties has already received its permits, although neighbors continue to oppose it.
Still, it affects the company’s hopes of expanding in the future.
“Where the new rules do become much more problematic is if we’re looking to do anything else in Hardin County or anywhere in Ohio,” Speerschneider said. “It’s just not something we can consider anymore. There will not be expansions or new projects in Ohio anymore unless the political climate changes.”
The legislation also passed Senate Bill 310, a two-year freeze on changing the state’s energy portfolio into renewable energy. Back in 2008, the state approved a demand to get 12.5 percent of its energy from renewable resources and reduce its energy consumption by 22 percent.
“We began to invest here because of those laws,” Litchfield said. “We were looking to invest millions of dollars in Ohio. Now that the laws are gone, it’s just disappointing to us.”