KENTON, Ohio — In another move likely to raise the profile of Ohio’s wind industry, tech giant Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com company, announced plans recently for a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County to complement another major wind farm it has under construction in nearby Paulding County.
The two wind farms are to help generate power for Amazon data centers in Ohio and Virginia.
The announcement comes as conservatives in the Ohio General Assembly are debating this fall whether they want to try extending or possibly making permanent a two-year freeze on renewable energy mandates legislators passed a few years ago, establishing benchmarks for utilities to invest in wind and solar power and other forms of clean energy.
The Kasich administration has said it will not support a continued freeze, the nation’s first and one that critics claim have driven away jobs. But it has left open the possibility of softening rules in place.
In its statement, Amazon said it “supports proposed changes to the state’s current wind setbacks law to encourage more investment in new renewable wind power projects,” a reference to legislation passed about the same time the freeze went into effect that established some of the nation’s most restrictive setback requirements for wind turbines.
Even with a feeling among environmentalists and many large manufacturers that Ohio was being hostile toward renewable energy when it enacted the freeze and setback requirements in 2014, Amazon came into Ohio with plans for its first major project, a 100-megawatt wind farm in Paulding County, last year. Called Amazon Wind Farm US Central, that project is on schedule to start producing electricity next May, according to Amazon.
The Hardin County project, called Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2, will be nearly twice as large at 189 megawatts. It is expected to come online in December, 2017, the company said.
“We remain committed to achieving our long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100 percent renewable energy,” Peter DeSantis, Amazon Web Services vice president of infrastructure, said.
The project is to be developed and operated by EverPower, a company that specializes in utility-scale wind power.
Amazon said the Hardin County project is its fifth across the United States for AWS, the other three being wind farms in North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana. Together, they will generate 2.2 million megawatts of electricity a year, equivalent to what it takes to power nearly 200,000 homes, the company said.
“This latest investment shows that clean energy isn't some futuristic technology. It's real and its powering businesses like Whirlpool, Honda, and Amazon right here in Ohio,” Trish Demeter, Ohio Environmental Council managing director of energy, said. “Unfortunately, Ohio's energy policies are holding back further investment and preventing Ohio from becoming a clean energy leader.”
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