Ohio Supreme Court rejects latest appeal over Buckeye Wind project

The Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 7 rejected an appeal by Champaign County and Goshen, Union, and Urbana townships of orders of the Ohio Power Siting Board permitting Buckeye Wind LLC to amend its siting certificate for the “Buckeye Wind I” wind farm in Champaign County.

The county contended that the board unlawfully approved Buckeye’s requested amendment without holding a hearing on all proposed changes in the amendment application. Under law, a hearing is needed “if the proposed change in the facility would result in any material increase in any environmental impact of the facility or a substantial change in the location of all or a portion of such facility.” According to the county, all the proposed changes in Buckeye’s amendment application met that criteria and therefore the board should have held a hearing on all the requested changes, rather than only a portion of them.

Said the Supreme Court order: “Because the county failed to timely object to the board’s decision limiting the scope of the hearing to only certain proposed changes in Buckeye’s amendment application, it forfeited its right to appeal that board decision. Accordingly, we conclude that the board’s decision to limit the scope of the hearing to certain proposed changes was reasonable and lawful and that the county never objected to the board’s limitation, and therefore we affirm the decision of the board.”

In March 2012, this court affirmed a board order granting a certificate to construct Buckeye Wind I. The proposed facility as certified consisted of 53 fully approved wind turbines, along with access roads, temporary construction staging areas, a mixture of overhead and underground electrical collection lines, a substation, and an operations and maintenance building. A few months after that high court decision in Buckeye Wind, Champaign Wind LLC, a sister company to Buckeye, filed an application to construct another wind farm in Champaign County, which the developer labeled “Buckeye Wind II.” In April 2016, the high court affirmed the board’s order authorizing Buckeye Wind II, which, as certified, consisted of 52 additional turbines, more access roads, more electrical collection lines, more construction staging areas, another substation, and an operations and maintenance facility.

In March 2013, while Champaign Wind’s application for Buckeye Wind II was pending, Buckeye filed an application to amend the certificate for Buckeye Wind I, in part so that that Buckeye Wind I and II could share portions of their associated facilities. Specifically, Buckeye’s amendment application sought to: move all electrical collection lines underground; relocate four previously approved access roads; adjust the size of the construction staging areas so that Buckeye Wind I and II could share construction zones; relocate one of the construction staging areas; relocate the substation so that Buckeye Wind I and II could utilize the same substation; and construct one new access road.

In February 2014, the board issued an opinion and order approving Buckeye’s amendment. About a month later, the county filed an application for rehearing, arguing—for the first time—that the board erred by not holding a hearing on all the proposed changes. After the board denied the county’s rehearing application, the county filed this appeal to the state Supreme Court.

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 website says 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.