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Friday, February 24th, 2012

Global wind company eyes Auglaize County

By Amy Kronenberger

Wind turbines tower above a tractor in a field in Van Wert County where dozens o. . .

WAPAKONETA - A wind and solar energy company is looking at the Wapakoneta area to establish a wind farm.
Dan Schumann of Mainstream Renewable Power met with Auglaize County Commissioners on Thursday. Also at the meeting were 12 members of Auglaize Neighbors United, a local group against wind farms. No one from the group spoke.
Schumann said his company is conducting feasibility studies, including environmental effects, capacity and public willingness. It already has completed a wind study.
"At this point, we're trying to assess whether the project can go forward from here - can it succeed as a business, will residents benefit," he said.
The company will determine exactly where individual turbines can be located and how many can fit in the area. Once all the studies are completed, Mainstream officials will present the findings in a public format and listen to residents' feedback.
Schumann said they hope to hold their first public meeting by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
"The responsible thing is to do all the studies first, then we can present everything to you and answer all your questions when we meet next," he said.
Commissioner John Bergman asked for more specific details on the location. Schumann said they don't have a map drawn yet, but they were thinking north and west of Wapakoneta.
"I'm very serious when I ask that question because I live north and west of Wapak and that's very undefined to me," Bergman said. "I want to see a map."
Schumann promised to get a map for commissioners as soon as possible.
Commissioner Doug Spencer asked how the company's plans would change if Senate Bill 232, which gives energy companies tax exemptions, was not renewed in two years or not granted to Mainstream.
Schumann said he believed his company would still move forward.
"We don't have a crystal ball, but we believe there will be enough of a market to fill the gap," he said.
Mainstream, a Dublin, Ireland-based company with U.S. headquarters in Chicago, began operations in 2008 and has offices on four continents. Ohio, Illinois and California are target locations in the U.S.
Schumann said the company is looking at areas in Shelby and Fulton counties in addition to Auglaize. He said they are competing with multiple wind companies, including NextEra, which canceled a project in Mercer County over complaints from residents, and a company with a wind farm in Paulding and Van Wert counties.
NextEra also is looking to set up a wind farm in eastern Auglaize County.
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