Take a time out on wind projects

The sun is to set June 30 on a tax break for any future wind-energy projects in Seneca County. While it doesn’t pull the plug on current wind farms planned for our area, it does flip off the switch regarding tax breaks for further wind-energy development — and allow county commissioners to allow the breaks if they want.

It’s understandable that some county residents want the alternative energy zone rescinded for current projects, considering what has changed since the zone was established.

A previous board of commissioners approved the zone — which allows lower pre-determined payments in lieu of taxes for wind turbines erected in the zone — in the fall of 2011. At that time, the Honey Creek Wind Energy Center proposed putting up to 166 turbines in Bloom and Venice townships in Seneca County and nearby Crawford County. Each was to be 328 feet tall.

Since then, the project has changed in ownership and scope, and now turbines nearly twice that height are planned. Residents who had come to terms with living amid turbines similar to ones in Bowling Green now would have some of the tallest structures in Ohio on the horizon.

While phasing out the AEZ in three months does not affect the proposed Seneca Wind or Republic Wind projects, neither would be “grandfathered” in if an application has to be resubmitted, based on a determination made by the Ohio Power Siting Board.

As for other potential projects — and other parts of the county are ripe for wind development — county commissioners and residents should take a wait-and-see approach to allowing energy-zone benefits. Wait until current projects are built, as see whether we want more of them.