Ohio Supreme Court strikes down challenge to wind-farm approval

Source: By Dan Gearing, The Columbus Dispatch • Posted: Friday, September 9, 2016

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected a challenge of the way state officials approved a wind farm in Champaign County.

In a unanimous ruling released on Wednesday, the court found that the Ohio Power Siting Board was proper in the way it approved revisions to a proposal for the Buckeye I wind farm. But there remains a separate pending appeal that is delaying construction of the project.

The wind farm would have 54 turbines that generate a total of 135 megawatts.

Wind farms have become a hot-button issue in northwestern Ohio, as economic-development leaders and some residents want to encourage the projects and the income they will bring, while some residents see wind farms as ugly or have other objections.

The appeal to the court was brought by the Champaign County government and three township governments from within the county. The local officials said the Power Siting Board failed to include some basic conditions in its approval of the plan. Among those conditions was an agreement that the developer would pay for road maintenance related to the project.

Jane Napier, the Champaign County assistant prosecutor who argued the case, said she is disappointed in the ruling.

“This was a good opportunity for the court to send this back to the Ohio Power Siting Board to rectify the inadequacies that are clearly shown.”

In terms of state law, however, the case came down to whether the county raised the issues at the right time and whether the siting board should have held an additional hearing on the proposal.

The Power Siting Board approved the wind farm in March 2010 and then approved amendments to the plan in February 2014.

Union Neighbors United, a group of residents that opposes wind power, has a separate pending appeal of the siting board decision on the wind farm.

An official for EverPower, the wind farm’s developer, said he is pleased with the ruling. He said this appeal, and the one that remains pending, have led to delays in the project.