Thursday, January 15th, 2009
By Janie Southard
Meeting on wind energy projects
  Many energy providers consider the local area a prime center for large-scale wind and biomass energy projects, says the energy services director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF).
Dale Arnold, of the OFBF, will talk to local residents Monday about energy providers considering Auglaize and Mercer counties for future development.
At the meeting, he will discuss how project developers, government leaders, utilities and community members could work together to create and implement local energy development plans.
"Alternative and renewable energy development offers local communities a variety of new economic opportunities," he said in a press release that advocates collaborative efforts and partnerships.
Mercer County Farmers Union President Leo Homan said the Monday meeting deals with local farmers joining forces with various companies for wind energy production and building wind turbines. The OFBF's approach differs from the union's perspective that local farmers should form their own cooperative to build wind farms big enough (10 turbines) to be competitive in the energy market.
"It's definitely very expensive to get set up, probably too much for 99 percent of our local farmers. (The OFBF plan) would give them an opportunity to partake in some way and maybe eventually they could realize enough money to fund their own operation," said Homan, who will not be available to attend Monday's meeting.
During an Ohio Farmers Union meeting in November, an OFU representative said that, including the test turbine installation and consultants as well as the actual wind farm, the average cost per megawatt is $2 million. He said the payback without grants on a small turbine (2 megawatts) is about 20 years.
During the farm bureau briefing, Arnold will talk about current federal and state legislative initiatives that demonstrate that local communities and others in Ohio are key areas for energy development. He also will detail how some Ohio communities already are working with energy developers to set up wind energy projects.
Arnold has been OFBF energy development director for 13 years. He's a representative on the Ohio Department of Development's Ohio Wind Work Group and Biomass Task Force.
For many years he's been involved with community electric and natural gas aggregation projects, utility-scale and on-site renewable energy generation. As well, he's been involved with public policy that provides opportunities for consumers to control their energy costs.
The farm bureau meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday at EZ Campgrounds, east of St. Marys on U.S. 33. Register for the briefing with the Auglaize Farm Bureau at 419-739-4619 or 877-775-7642.

If you go:
What: Meeting to discuss potential wind and biomass energy products in the Grand Lake area
When: 7 p.m. Monday
Where: EZ Campgrounds, east of St. Marys on U.S. 33
Speaker: Dale Arnold, energy services director of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
Additional online stories for this date
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• Esselstein joining an elite softball club
• Fulmer and Strohl set to enter Celina Athletic Hall of Fame
• Highlight Game: St. Henry at St. John's (Friday)
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