Champaign Wind LLC told the Ohio Power Siting Board in a Jan. 16 brief that its May 2012 application for approval on a wind project in Champaign County is complete and ready for a positive board decision.
The company’s application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need is the ninth application for a wind farm submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board. Champaign Wind’s sister company, Buckeye Wind LLC, submitted the first application in March 2009 for a wind farm. After extensive litigation, the board approved Buckeye Wind’s application, ruling on many of the same issues raised by the intervenors in this proceeding, said the Champaign Wind brief.
For example, Union Neighbors United disputed the facility’s impact on property values and the impacts of shadow flicker and operational noise. The city of Urbana disputed the facility’s impact on local airports and life flight services. The intervenors were not successful on their claims before the board or in their appeal before the Supreme Court of Ohio, the company pointed out.
The energy generated at the proposed Champaign Wind facility will collect to the Urbana-Mechanicsburg-Darby 138-kV transmission line in Champaign County. The facility is proposed to consist of 56 wind turbines, along with access roads, underground and overhead electric collection cables, a facility substation, up to three laydown yards for construction staging, an operations and maintenance (O&M) facility, and up to four meteorological towers.
Each of the 56 turbines will have a nameplate capacity rating of 1.6 MW to 2.5 MW, depending on the final turbine model selected. The resulting generating capacity will be 89.6 MW to 140 MW. The facility is expected to operate at an average annual capacity factor greater than 30%-35% and, therefore, the 56 turbines will collectively generate 235,000 to 429,000 MWh of electricity each year. Facility construction is scheduled to begin in 2013, pending board approval.
Developer says conditions proposed by board staff are workable
Champaign Wind noted in its Jan 16 brief: “The Board’s Staff conducted a detailed review of Champaign Wind’s application for a certificate, resulting in the Staff Report of Recommendation filed on October 10, 2012. In that report, Staff recommended that the Board grant the certificate subject to 70 conditions. The conditions cover a range of topics such as decommissioning, the submittal of detailed engineering drawings, requirements to have ice detection equipment on the turbines and additional setback lengths based on one manufacturer’s recommendations. Champaign Wind is generally agreeable with Staff’s recommended conditions, as many are similar to the conditions in the Buckeye I Wind Farm certificate and other certificates issued by the Board. Champaign Wind believes that some conditions can be clarified, some deleted as redundant and others revised to better reflect actual operations.
This facility can assist electric distribution utilities in Ohio meet the alternative energy mandates of Ohio Amended Substitute Senate Bill 221 (SB 221), the developer pointed out. SB 221 requires electric distribution utilities in Ohio to provide 12.5% of their generation from renewable energy resources by 2024. It also mandates that 6.5% of that generation come from renewable energy resources sited in Ohio, which would include generation from a wind-powered generation facility.
The Champaign Wind facility will also create emission free power and offset emissions from other generation facilities and will create approximately seven permanent jobs to operate the facility and a construction workforce of approximately 86 employees over 12 months. The estimated local benefit for construction jobs alone is estimated to be $14.5m while the remaining employment opportunities during the construction phase is estimated to create over $60m in local benefits.
OPSB staff filed a Jan. 16 post-hearing brief that was generally supportive of the project – with the previously mentioned conditions.
“Project opponents seek to use this case to debate the policy merits of wind farming and to keep Champaign County a ‘wind farm free’ zone,” staff wrote. “As the Ohio Power Siting Board (Board) deliberates this case, it must be mindful that this policy debate has already occurred and the General Assembly has already spoken. To sustain legal muster, the proposed Champaign Wind, LLC (Champaign Wind or applicant) project need not be impact-free or without risk. Improvements and maintenance to local roads will be required and made. Aesthetics and other impacts will be addressed and minimized where possible.”
Staff added: “The passion of folks who oppose the project, while admirable, must not be allowed to cloud the task before the Board. Its adjudicatory role is to identify expected impacts and adopt measures that reasonably address and mitigate those impacts to the project area and environment. As the Board is well aware, it issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Buckeye I wind farm located in close proximity to Champaign Wind’s facility. Because of Buckeye I’s turbines close proximity to those involved in Champaign Wind’s project, the Board here need only consider incremental impacts. The Board’s Staff (Staff) submits that the Application and the numerous conditions proposed by its Staff, to address and mitigate impacts, adequately account for this.”