Ohio Supreme Court upholds approval for Champaign Wind project

Filed on April 28 at the Ohio Power Siting Board was an April 13 decision from the Ohio Supreme Court that threw out an appeal from local governmental entities and residents of a board approval for the Champaign Wind LLC project.

The board granted a certificate to Champaign Wind to construct a wind farm in Champaign County. Appellants challenged various evidentiary and procedural rulings by the board and the board’s ultimate determination that the proposed wind farm meets the statutory criteria for siting a major utility facility.

Said the April 13 high court decision: :After reviewing the record and considering the parties’ arguments, we hold that appellants have established neither that the board’s order is unlawful or unreasonable nor that the board’s alleged errors affected the outcome of the proceeding. Accordingly, we affirm the board’s order.”

In 2012, the high court had affirmed a board order that granted a certificate to construct the Buckeye Wind Farm in Champaign County. That was the first time it reviewed a siting decision to construct a wind farm. Less than three months after at decision, Champaign Wind, a sister company of the Buckeye Wind Farm developer, filed an application to construct another wind farm in Champaign County. Champaign Wind labeled this wind farm “Buckeye Wind II.”

In its application, Champaign Wind proposed to build up to 56 wind turbines, along with access roads, underground and overhead electric cables, construction-staging areas, an operations-and-maintenance facility, a substation, and up to four meteorological towers, on 13,500 acres of private land leased from about 100 participating landowners.

The board held a three-week hearing in November and December 2012, and it later issued a 103-page opinion approving Champaign Wind’s application and granting a certificate approving the construction of Buckeye Wind II. The certificate was subject to 72 conditions designed to mitigate known or foreseeable issues. Two of those conditions prohibited Champaign Wind from constructing four of its proposed turbines because their proposed location did not meet staff’s recommended setbacks. This lowered the total number of turbines for the project to 52.

After the board denied motions for rehearing, both the neighbors and the county appealed to this court, raising 13 propositions of law between them. Champaign Wind intervened to defend the board’s order.

As in the Buckeye Wind case, the high court said the county and the neighbors have not demonstrated that the board’s decision was unreasonable or unlawful nor that the board’s discovery and evidentiary rulings meaningfully affected the outcome. The county and the neighbors were active participants at every stage of the board proceeding.

The EverPower Wind Holdings website says the up-to-130-MW Buckeye Wind Farm project is located on a glacial ridge in eastern Champaign County. The project involves the construction of up to 52 turbines spread across six townships. The Buckeye Wind Farm will be built in conjunction with the Buckeye II Wind Farm, with a total for the two projects of 200 MW.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.