Seneca Wind public hearing to be at TU Tuesday

A public hearing regarding Seneca Wind LLC’s application to create a 212- megawatt wind farm in Seneca County is to occur from 3-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Marion Center at Tiffin University, 235 Miami St.

The Ohio Power Siting Board is hosting the hearing and representatives from both sides of the issue are to be present Tuesday afternoon.

Matt Butler of the OPSB said that the purpose of the hearing is to “give the public an opportunity to provide sworn testimony to the Board about the project.”

“The public hearing on Tuesday is the primary means for the public to address the Board,” he said.

Asked about the nature of the hearing Tuesday, Butler said “it’s not a question and answer session: it’s more of a legislative hearing, where the members of the public will be sworn in and then provide their testimony on record.

“There will be a court reporter there to transcribe everything as well,” he said.

The OPSB reviews applications for what it calls “major utility facilities” like the proposed Seneca Wind project across the state, Butler said.

Seneca Wind LLC, through its parent company sPower, has submitted an application “to construct a wind-powered electric generation facility located in Scipio, Reed, Venice, Eden, and Bloom townships in Seneca County,” according to Seneca Wind’s website.

“The project will be built on approximately 25,000 acres of privately-leased land and will utilize up to 77 turbines,” the website states. “Land leases with private landowners will provide a consistent revenue stream for local farmers and residents for the life of the project, in excess of typical farm income.

“The project has been doing environmental studies for several years and will comply with all Ohio State regulations including those pertaining to wildlife, wetlands, noise, flicker and setbacks,” the website states.

“The project will provide a significant economic stimulus to the area during construction by providing jobs and local contracts for goods and services, and significant long-term economic benefits through lease revenue to local landowners and PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) revenues to the community,” according to the website.

The Seneca Anti-Wind Union opposes the Seneca Wind project and has cited various reasons for this opposition.

“We are excited to finally be able to share our thoughts, concerns, and frustrations with the OPSB Staff and the Administrative Law Judge that are presiding over the Seneca Wind Case,” a release from the Seneca Anti-Wind Union states.

“We have many legitimate points, including but not limited to: excessive noise levels, harmful levels of shadow flicker, harmful effects from infrasound, negative impact to our local airports, nature preserves, Life Flight Service, local bald eagles and other wildlife, property values, the 16 industrial wind turbines proposed within two miles of Seneca East Local Schools, and the overall improper siting of the 600-plus feet tall industrial wind turbines,” the release states.

“This is the first and only opportunity for the community to have their voices heard. We can only hope that they truly do make a difference in the board’s decision on whether or not to grant Seneca Wind their construction certificate,” the release states.

After the public hearing Tuesday, there is to be another adjudicatory hearing Aug. 26 at the OPSB office in Columbus, where Seneca Wind LLC is to meet with the siting board staff as well as local Seneca County government officials and local residents involved in officially intervening against the project.

“Basically, all of the formal parties to the case will be at the adjudicatory hearing in August, which could last a few days,” Butler said.

“The adjudicatory hearing will be open for the public to attend, but it is not the equivalent of a public hearing.”

After the adjudicatory hearing ends, the Board normally allows time for each side to file legal briefs and then down the road they will vote on the application at a regular Board meeting, Butler said.

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