Champaign County wind farm project tabled

The developer of a proposed wind farm in Champaign County no longer has the certificates needed to build the project.

Attorneys representing the Buckeye Wind LLC and Champaign Wind LLC projects asked the Ohio Power Sitting Board to relinquish certificates that were approved for those projects nearly a decade ago. They also asked to withdraw any pending amendments filed since then.

“From our standpoint, the cases are all closed now and the company no longer has the certificates to construct those facilities,” said Matt Butler, a spokesperson for the board.

The request to relinquish those certificates was filed in September and was approved by the OPSB shortly after. The push to build wind turbines in Champaign County has been controversial and has sparked nearly a decade of debate between residents and county officials.

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State officials first approved a certificate allowing the wind farm to be built in March 2010, according to documents filed with the OPSB. However, it included several conditions such as that the original certificate would expire if construction did not begin within five years. An extension to that certificate was approved in 2014.

The Champaign County project was split into two separate phases called Buckeye Wind and Champaign Wind. The projects were first proposed by Everpower, a company whose holdings were recently acquired by Innogy, a German energy company.

Neither company could be reached for comment.

The initial phase of the project, with 54 turbines, was the first commercial wind farm to receive approval by the OPSB in March 2010, the News-Sun previously reported. A second phase with 56 turbines was approved in 2013.

However, the total number of turbines slated to be built was reduced by half last year following a lengthy dispute with the group Union Neighbors United, the News-Sun previously reported.

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Since the plan to build wind turbines in the county was first proposed, it has stirred criticism from some residents who questioned the project’s safety and raised concerns that the turbines could create nuisances such as noise or rotating shadows from the turbine’s blades.

In May of last year, the OPSB granted an extension to start construction on the two separate phases of the project after the wind farm's developer argued ongoing lawsuits delayed the project for years. Shortly after, the Champaign County commissioners, along with a group of residents, asked the power board for a new hearing. That request was granted by an administrative judge.

However, those cases have been closed as a result of OPSB’s decision to withdraw the certifications for the wind farm project.

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