National Wind Developing Wind Farms in Northwest Ohio
I had an opportunity to attend an invitation-only meeting on September 1, 2009 for Northwest Ohio Wind Energy. National Wind is the manager and developer of Northwest Ohio Wind Energy. The purpose of the meeting was to educate landowners in the footprint of Northwest Ohio Wind Energy (NWOWE) about: 1) NWOWE, 2) National Wind as a manager, and 3) to discuss the concept of community wind. Community wind is is generated by turbines that are at least partially owned by local landowners and other members or entities (such as schools). NWOWE is currently in the process of securing land and hopes to secure 30,000 acres, with a projected construction date of 2011.
This model of wind power development is different from the model proposed by Iberdrola and Horizon Wind Energy, which are also both securing land contracts in Van Wert and Paulding Counties. Unlike Iberdrola or Horizon, the NWOWE plan allows for community ownership of the project and potentially higher payments to the landowners. The proposed wind farm from NWOWE will have an output of 300 MW. There are some similarities with all three companies. All have robust provisions for fixing drain tiles, which is a major concern for this part of Ohio where topography is very flat and subsurface drainage is critical. Disruptions are unavoidable during the burying of transmission lines. The lines are set four feet underground and sometimes drain tiles are cut as the lines are being buried. Again, all three companies, Horizon, Iberdrola, and NWOWE offer various ways to repair those cut drain tile.
NWOWE is using National Wind as the project manager. National Wind has developed a 50 MW Jeffers Wind Energy Center in western Minnesota that has been in operation since 2008. National Wind also has one project totaling 169.5 MW in eastern North Dakota operating as M-Power Luverne Wind Farm.
The success of this and other wind projects in Ohio hinges on the Ohio law enacted last year establishing an alternative energy portfolio standard. This is a government mandate that by the year 2025 Ohio utilities must purchase at least 25% of their electricity from alternative sources. Of that 25%, half must come from renewable electricity sources, such as wind. Fufrthermore, over half the renewable energy (6.5% of all Ohio electricity purchased) must be generated in-state. So long as this law is not repealled, there is strong incentive and upside for wind development projects in Ohio.