Land acquisition continues to progress on the Republic Wind Farm project in western Seneca County, and Republic Wind LLC has filed a preliminary application with the Ohio Power Siting Board.
"Just because we in the community don't see things moving forward, it doesn't mean nothing is happening," said Gary Baldosser, Seneca County Farm Bureau's public policy action team leader and a landowner involved with the project. "At this point, they have the land that they need to develop the project under lease, and they are working to design and procure easements for transmission lines from the project area to interconnect with electric lines."
Baldosser sees the project as a boon to Seneca County. He was instrumental in getting wind companies to look at the county through contacts he made while working with Farm Bureau at the state level.
Plans are under way to erect a wind farm such as this in Seneca County.
"I'm excited to see this project happen for this community," Baldosser said. "I am in favor of this project. If you're looking for somebody with a negative viewpoint, you won't find it here.
"I see the big benefits to the county and townships, the school districts, increased tax revenue," he said.
"I try to remind people this is not the answer to budget problems, but this is one income stream that doesn't come from an income tax or property tax," he said. "It may extend the need for tax increases or reduce the amount they next time they ask."
The project's website, republicwind.com, states the project has been under development since 2009 and plans are under way for 70-80 wind turbines producing 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 55,000 homes.
"Permitting is expected to begin this year, with construction anticipated as soon as 2014," the website says.
It invites people to check back for updates.
The project is in the "pre-application" phase at the Ohio Power Siting Board, a branch of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio charged with handling energy-related projects.
Under Republic Wind LLC's listing on the OPSB website, parent company Nordex USA states the company intends to file an application to construct Republic Wind Farm on 1,500 acres of leased land in the Seneca County townships of Adams, Reed, Scipio and Thompson, and York Township in Sandusky County.
The entry states the project will consist of about 83 turbines, each with a capacity of 2.4 megawatts, producing about 200 megawatts of electricity, as well as associated infrastructure such as access roads, an electrical collection system, construction staging area, operations and maintenance facilities and substations.
In a separate, but related project, the entry states the company plans to request approval for an 8-mile transmission line and two substations associated with the wind farm.
To help educate landowners involved, Baldosser said landowners visited the Beebe Wind Farm in Michigan to see a project under construction.
"We walked the construction sites. We got to go up to the turbines and touched the turbines and stood on the concrete," Baldosser said.
"We talked to landowners that had turbines on their property," he said. "The landowners were very pleased with the way the construction was taking place."
As a landowner, Baldosser said leasing the land to Nordex creates a revenue stream for his farm.
"It generates cash flow for my farm that will hopefully give my kids and grandkids, the next generations, the opportunity to farm," he said.
Although the last few years of farming have been profitable, Baldosser said the previous 20 years were difficult.
"We raise really great kids here in Seneca County, but they seem to have to leave to find a job somewhere else," he said.
There has been no record since fall 2011 of NextEra's moving forward with the Honey Creek Wind Energy Center that had been proposed to be constructed in Seneca and Crawford counties.