Modifications To Local Windfarm Project Approved

Daily Globe Staff Reporter

SHELBY - The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Siting Board voted on Thursday afternoon in the matter of the application of Black Fork Wind Energy, LLC regarding its certificate of environmental compatibility and public need issued in a previous case involving wind turbine technology. The Board voted to accept an application from Capital Power to make modifications from its original plan filed in January of 2012.

According to Matt Schilling, spokesperson for PUCO, "the application requested to add two additional turbine models to the original plan, and it was accepted."

Several residents affected by the wind farm sent letters of support for the permit amendment, with many using the same form letter, which stated, "As a project participant in the proposed wind farm I support the motion for extension of the permit, and the permit amendment to allow for new turbine technologies to be considered in the design of the project."

The letters of support submitted were received and documented on November 17, 2014 and included the signatures of Alvin Horst, 4977 Hazlebrush Rd.; James Michael Stump, 7057 McConnell Rd., Tiro; Ken Studer, 7633 Auburn Center Rd., Tiro; Mark Fry, 5672 Champion Rd.; Carl and Grace Rader, 7575 Auburn Center Rd., Tiro; Dean and Ann Rader, 7507 Auburn Center Rd., Tiro; Rick Niese, 7506 Cole Rd., Crestline; Robert Finney, 3733 Nazor Rd., Crestline; Duane and Mary Lou Dick, 8034 Lash Rd., Shelby; Charles Hout, 3000 State Route 598, Crestline; Attorney At Law James W. Pry II; Casey Niese, 7506 Cole Rd., Crestline.

Resident Gary Biglin, 5331 State Route 61 S., was in opposition of the amendment, and filed a notice with PUCO stating:

"Black Fork Wind Energy L.L.C. submitted an application for amendment in case #14-1591-EL-BGA on Sept. 12, 2014 to the Ohio Power Siting Board. This was to amend the certificate of the original case #10-2865-EL-BGN that was issued January 23, 2012. The amendment application was asking the OPSB to allow the new wind turbine models to be added to the three models currently approved in the certificate.

"There were five property owners in the project area that petitioned the OPSB to intervene in amendment case #14-1591-EL-BGA and that a hearing would be held pursuant with ORC 4906.07(B) H.B. 483 requires that new setbacks for industrial wind turbines go into effect on Sept. 15, 2014. ORC 4906.20(B)(b)(ii) states: "Any amendment made to an existing certificate after the effective date of the amendment of this section by H.B. 483 of the 130th general assembly shall be subject to the setback provision of this section as amended by the act."

Biglin continued in his letter, "After no response from the OPSB in regard to this amendment case in almost a year, on Aug. 13, 2015 the OPSB staff issued a report recommending that the Board approve the amendment to the original case. While stating in their report that citizens applied to be interveners in this case, no formal announcement was sent to any parties of record. We only happened to notice the report while looking at the case docket on the OPSB website. The parties involved in case #10-2865-EL-BGN and case #14-1591-EL-BGA object to Staff's request for the following reasons:

"1. The short notice (actually no notice) of this case being on the agenda of the OPSB meeting schedule for Aug. 27, 2015 at 3:00 p.m.

"2. Any application to amend a case approved after H. B. 483 came into effect (and an approval on Aug. 27, 2015 almost a year later) would need to apply the law change in H.B. 483.

"3. The petitioning parties of these cases had no response from the OPSB in regard to case #14-1591-EL-BGA. Their due process has been denied or dis-allowed by the silence of the Board and ALJ's to this matter for nearly a year."

The Siting Board's ruling on Thursday afternoon included the following reasons:

"Through this application, Black Fork proposes to add the Vestas V110 (2.0 MW) and the GE 2.3-107 (2.3 MW) as turbine models suitable for the project. According to the Applicant, these new turbine models have become available since the application of the Black Fork Certification Case...both models are less in total height than the models previously approved.

"Black Fork states that the layout and construction technical data provided with the application in the Black Fork Certification Case will not change as a result of this application," the ruling states.

Regarding the setback requirements, the ruling states, "all of the turbines approved in the Black Fork Certification Case, as well as the turbines proposed in this case, are in compliance with the setback requirements of 750 feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine's nearest blade at 90 degrees to the exterior of the nearest, habitable, residential structure; and the property line setback, which is equal to a horizontal distance from the turbine's base to the property line of the wind farm property, equal to 1.1 times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its base to the tip of its highest blade."

The Siting Board determined that, "The proposed changes to the certified facility do not result in a substantial change in the location of the facility or any material increase in any social or environmental impact. Therefore, pursuant to R. C. 4906.06, an evidentiary hearing is not necessary."

The ruling also indicated that between September 29, 2014 and October 24, 2014, Farm Federations, Gary Biglin, Margaret Rietschiln, Karel Davis, John Warrington, and Brett Heffner filed motions to intervene.

The final order stated that the motions to intervene filed by the listed parties be granted "to the extent set forth herin, and denied, to the extent the movants request intervention for the purpose of addressing matters outside the scope of this case."

Schilling stated that since the parties were granted intervention, they could file a motion for rehearing. "They have 30 days to file a motion for a rehearing if they feel the Board's decision was unreasonable," he stated. Interveners in the case can only address issues presented in the case, not factors lying outside the scope of the technology change or the Board's decision, Schilling clarified.

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