Written by By JAN LARSON Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 09:13
A proposal for more wind turbines near Bowling Green was met with a mixture of warm support and cool suspicion Tuesday evening.
Close to 100 people gathered to hear how the project could help generate more green energy or could encroach on their country living.
Though no sites have been selected for the potential six turbines, Bowling Green is in the running because of the powerful and steady winds that whip through the region. In the past year, wind data has been collected to determine the projected wind production, the proper sitings for turbines, and the optimal turbine technology, according to Pam Sullivan, of American Municipal Power. AMP provides power to municipal electrical systems, including Bowling Green.
AMP would like to build more turbines near Bowling Green, to augment the wind power currently going on the grid from the four turbines at the Wood County Landfill, west of the city.
Sullivan explained that the more wind power generated by AMP, the less coal and natural gas have to be used to meet the needs of its 81 municipal members in Ohio. And Northwest Ohio is the "sweet spot" for wind production in the state.
Many in the audience applauded the efforts to create more green energy sources. Members of the Sierra Club and Progress BG praised AMP and Bowling Green for trying to add to the only utility scale wind turbine site in Ohio.
However, some in the crowd were still wary of the last time AMP studied the possibility of more turbines in Wood County. In 2004 efforts were made to identify landowners who might have wanted to "host" wind turbines. An area southwest of Bowling Green was identified by AMP as a good site, but the project failed to proceed due to landowners' protests and criticisms that residents were kept in the dark about plans for the turbines.
Some residents were still raw from that experience.
"Will there be any more public meetings for people to voice concerns, or is this all we've got," said Jim Rossow, a resident of Plain Township. "Is it going to be backdoored like the last time?"
Sullivan assured the audience that more public meetings will be held, and that AMP officials want to hear resident concerns.
"We don't want to see that happening again, or you'll have an uprising," Rossow warned.
Another Plain Township resident, Shirlee Bostdorff, asked how much farmland would be put out of production for one turbine. Michael Drunsic, of DNV Global Energy Concepts, a consulting firm studying possible sites for the turbines, said each turbine would use about one acre of land.
Drunsic said the area studied included a six-mile radius of downtown Bowling Green, since that was considered to be a reasonable range to connect into the city's electrical grid.
Six parcel clusters were selected, including five that were identified in 2004 and one owned by the city on the east side of Bowling Green. That city-owned parcel was rejected because of its proximity to the Wood County Airport.
That leaves two parcel clusters in the area of Liberty Hi and Portage roads, one cluster in the area of Liberty Hi and Poe roads, and two clusters near Cross Creek and Hull Prairie roads.
"There's a considerable amount of developable land within the study area," Drunsic said.
Though the sites are prime for wind production, Drunsic said other factors have not yet been studied, such as the impact on wildlife, private landing strips, agricultural practices, and the aesthetic impact to homes of noise and shadow flicker from the turbines.
Drunsic explained that no more turbines could be placed on the county landfill property.
"You can't pack them in too tight," he said.
While some in the audience cited studies that found no link between wind turbines and declining property values, Drunsic said neighbors of the turbines may be impacted.
"It's a sticky issue, there's no getting around that. Some people don't want them in their backyards. I can understand that," he said.
But while some were protecting their backyards, others in the audience were looking beyond. One had circulated petitions around Bowling Green and found overwhelming support for the wind project.
Kevin Maynard, the city utilities director, said Bowling Green currently gets 15 to 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Officials hope that number will soon be up to 30 percent.
In the meantime, AMP is continuing to collect data on the possible sites around Bowling Green. The site studies should be completed in the first or second quarter of 2010. Anyone with information that would be important for AMP to have when studying the sites may e-mail