Ohio Supreme Court rules on proposed wind farm — here’s what the justices said

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The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday approved the construction of a wind farm in northern Ohio that is meant to provide renewable energy for central Ohio.

The court, in a 7-0 ruling, rejected an appeal from the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and neighbors of the Emerson Creek Wind Farm. The two groups argued that the project could disrupt the area’s water supply, create excessive noise and “shadow flicker” for residents near the wind farm, while killing bald eagles and migrating birds.

The company behind the project, Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Virginia, welcomed the court’s ruling.

“We look forward to bringing the project’s significant community benefits to Erie and Huron County communities, including new tax revenue for local governments and schools, good-paying jobs for Ohio construction workers, and dependable income for local farmers and landowners,” the company said in a statement.

The project consists of 71 turbines on 32,000 acres of leased land in Huron and Erie counties near Lake Erie. In addition to the turbines, there will be access roads, buried cables, a substation, an operations-and-maintenance facility, and meteorological towers.

The project will generate 298 megawatts of wind energy, enough to power more than 85,000 homes each year.

Apex expects construction to begin in late 2024 and the project to come online at the end of 2025.

In 2020, Apex struck a deal to sell most of the electricity from the project to AEP Energy, a subsidiary of Columbus-based power company American Electric Power. The electricity will serve customers who want renewable energy, including a Google data center in New Albany and for the city of Columbus green energy aggregation program.Get the Evening Update newsletter in your inbox.

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The Ohio Siting Board, which must approve new sources of power, signed off on the project in June 2021. The neighbors and Black Swamp appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

“We conclude that the residents and Black Swamp have not established that the board’s order was unlawful or unreasonable,” the court said in a ruling written by Justice R. Patrick DeWine

Development of wind farms in Ohio has slowed in recent years as a result of rules put in place by state legislators after residents filled the Statehouse to complain about the farms.

Emerson is one of three wind projects under development in the state, according to Siting Board records.

Meanwhile, developers have turned their sites to solar with about 50 solar projects under some stage of development in the state.

In addition to the Emerson Creek project, Apex is also developing solar farms in the state, including the Wheatsborough Solar in Erie County, near the wind farm, and the Springwater Solar in Pleasant Township in Franklin County and Fairfield Township in Madison County.