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Published: Saturday, 2/12/2011

FirstEnergy says it will buy wind farm's electricity

FirstEnergy Solutions has entered into a 20-year agreement for 100 of the 304 megawatts produced by the Blue Creek Wind Farm starting in October, 2012, according to the project developer, Iberdrola Renewables of Portland, Ore.

Each turbine being installed is to be capable of generating 2 megawatts of power, which is among the highest outputs for land-based machines. Ohio's first four utility-scale wind turbines, the four in the Wood County landfill six miles southwest of Bowling Green, each produce no more than 1.7 megawatts.

About 1,000 homes are powered by every megawatt produced by a power plant or wind farm, though the ratio is usually less during the summer when air-conditioning units create peak demand.

"Blue Creek Wind Farm would represent our first wind power agreement in Ohio and will help us meet the renewable energy standards that have been established for the state," Gary R. Leidich, FirstEnergy Generation executive vice president and president, said.

Martin Mugica, executive vice president of Iberdrola Renewables, said his company is "delivering immediate and long-term benefits to Van Wert and Paulding counties, as well as the rest of Ohio."

The Blue Creek project is the largest among several at various stages of review by the Ohio Power Siting Board for Paulding, Van Wert, and Hardin counties, all a short drive from the Indiana state line.

The number of megawatts identified would require a combined total of some 535 turbines to be installed across three counties, although the sheer presence of applications does not mean all projects will be authorized or that developers will get the financing.

To the north, three developers -- Juwi Wind LLC, Great Lakes Wind LLC, and Orisol Energy US, Inc. -- are negotiating with landowners to erect some 200 in Riga, Ogden, Palmyra, and Fairfield townships in the southeastern quadrant of Michigan's Lenawee County. They could generate 400 megawatts of capacity at full power, less than half the 905 megawatts of electricity produced by FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Oak Harbor at full capacity.

Many area residents are challenging the projects, citing concerns over anything from birding to property value to noise issues. The American Wind Energy Association has said many of the objections have been resolved in other parts of the country, and claims developers will place machines in areas that do not harm humans or wildlife.

The Blue Creek Wind Farm is being developed in Tully, Union, and Hoaglin townships in Van Wert County, and Benton, Blue Creek, and Latty townships in Paulding County. Construction began in September and is to be completed this year, according to Iberdrola Renewables.

The Blue Creek Wind Farm is bringing $1.1 million in annual lease payments to local landowners, $2.7 million in annual local taxes, 15 to 20 new permanent jobs, and more than 300 construction jobs to that part of western Ohio. Some 18 Ohio companies are supporting or supplying the construction effort, Iberdrola said.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.



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