The Calm Before the Wind Storm – LTE

To some it may feel as though the wind turbine controversy has faded away. But even now a lot of forces are building behind the scenes which will soon let loose in a flurry of activity. The adjudicatory hearing for the Republic Wind project is scheduled to begin on Nov 4th. This will be the only chance for people who live in and near the project to have any meaningful say in the matter. And, the way the process is structured by current law, it is limited to a few people and they have to raise tens of thousands of dollars for lawyers just to be able to have their voices heard. This is the sad state of affairs in Ohio where the agricultural/residential zoning for hundreds of square miles of land can be reconfigured by the State to heavy industrial without a local vote. You can be sure that this stifling of the people’s input is raising the anger and opposition levels to these projects by many orders of magnitude.

Apex, the wind company bent on transforming our area into one giant 600 ft tall power plant, already has two projects going through the approval process in Columbus, the Republic project and Emerson Creek project. Meanwhile they are working feverishly to get 3 more projects started before the federal tax incentives run out — Honey Creek Wind, Emerson West, and Buck Springs. Combined these five projects will cover well over 250 square miles of land. The entire eastern half of Seneca County along with parts of Huron, Crawford, Erie, and Sandusky counties will be a massive sea of huge red blinking lights, all night every night, for the next several decades. When daylight comes there will be nowhere within many miles of here that a person will be able to spend time outside without seeing the flailing arms of hundreds of the massive machines. Whether you think that is a pretty site, or an intimidating intrusion, the fact remains that Seneca County will never be the same.

Is it worth it? That’s a good question. Some will say yes because of the tax revenue they bring. Some will say no because the benefits are overwhelmed by the changes to the area and the sheer number of people affected. But, whichever way the decision goes, it should be made by the people who live here and not by state regulators or by large outside corporations who care only about grabbing the low hanging fruit of government incentives. Do not be taken in by their stories of how transforming our county will somehow save the planet. The fact is that if local citizens were allowed to make the decision with a vote then these projects would be built where they are wanted instead of where outsiders decide to force them in. Removing the element of force would result in better sited projects. And building less offensive renewable energy projects, like solar, would ensure that much more would actually get done to help the climate situation without adversely affecting the lives of so many people and so many wildlife species.

The insistence of building intrusive wind projects over entirely justifiable local objections, when there are other more acceptable ways of obtaining the same goals, is a blatant display of crony capitalism and favoritism by state officials. They may get away with it for a while but it is politically unsustainable. If local citizens in Ohio don’t get a voice in the future of their own community (such as the Reineke Referendum would allow) then uncaring politicians will find themselves out on their keisters, while those who seize the opportunity to recognize the voice of the people and move towards less offensive ways of saving the planet will be much more favored by voters. Just ask any local politician how it has been working out so far. No politician in Ohio can afford to ignore this issue, including the Governor. Responsive and forward looking elected officials will be putting their full support behind the Reineke Referendum to restore local control on wind projects, while the rest can start planning for their career change.

Jim Feasel

Eden Township