By Nancy Allen
The flat, open farmland in Mercer and Auglaize counties is a prime location to erect wind-driven turbines to create electricity, says Gene Krebs, state director for Greater Ohio.
Krebs spoke to a group of people in Wapakoneta during a community development seminar Monday. Greater Ohio is a citizens network promoting -- through education and grassroots advocacy -- public policy to grow the state's economy and improve quality of life through land use.
Krebs said Green Energy Ohio, a non-profit group working with the Ohio Department of Development to promote wind power, soon will install instruments near Wapakoneta to measure wind speed. The group is looking to see if speeds are strong enough and consistent enough to further study the alternative power source.
Two companies actively are seeking sites to build wind farms in Ohio, Krebs said, adding that there have been discussions about siting a wind farm in Bellfontaine in Logan County. Four wind turbines already have been erected south of Bowling Green.
In addition to generating electricity, the turbines also would generate funds for farmers whose land the turbines are built on and hundreds of thousands of dollars in local tax revenues, he said. "Farmers would get between $4,000 to $6,000 per turbine on a 20-year lease and local governments will get in excess of six figures in property and utility taxes for one of these wind turbine sites," he said.
Krebs said companies look for open, agricultural areas with good wind speed readings. They also locate in areas where the zoning supports it.
"They don't want to put these things up and then have houses spring up around them overnight like mushrooms after a warm spring rain," Krebs said. "They require a strong zoning because they require certainty."
Krebs said the base of one of the $1.8 million turbines is as big as a 10,000 bushel grain bin and producers can farm right up to the base. Wind turbines are designed to generate electricity for peak times, late afternoon to evenings, which also is the windiest part of the day in Ohio.
The turbines rotate at 16 rounds per minute and are geared like a bicycle, he said. If the wind speed increases to 56 miles per hour, they shut down. Companies usually put up six to 15 turbines, which are spaced 60 to 80 acres apart. The noise is comparable to the sound of an air conditioner.
The U.S. Department of Energy has a Wind Powering America initiative that calls for increasing the federal use of wind energy to 5 percent of total energy by 2010.