Commissioners: Wind farm 'largest economic development project in the county'

Cary Ashby • Mar 19, 2018 at 4:00 AM

The Huron County commissioners predict the newly approved Emerson Creek Wind farm could be the largest economic development project the county has seen in many years.

On Tuesday, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution for a project-specific payment in lieu of taxes (aka PILOT program) supporting Emerson Creek Wind. Located in both Huron and Erie counties, it would be the first project built in the region and will produce enough electricity to power about 94,000 homes.

“This is the largest economic development project in the county,” said Commissioner Terry Boose, noting the board has worked well with Apex Clean Energy, Inc. “We are looking forward to working with them in the future.”

Based in Charlottesville, Va., Apex is a utility-scale developer of renewable energy and is developing several projects in Ohio totaling about $2.6 billion in private investment and 690 construction and operating jobs. It is the developer of Emerson Creek.

Commissioner Skip Wilde, in a separate interview, gave a similar projection as Boose.

“It’s probably one of the biggest economic projects we’re gonna see in a long time,” Wilde said.

“When all the phases are up and running,” the project is expected to bring in about $4.5 million annually to the community, he said.

Ultimately, there should be nearly 120 wind turbines in western Huron County, from Bellevue to Attica.

“That will be over two phases,” Boose said. “It was something the commissioners worked very hard on. We looked at the request for over a year.” 

The PILOT program establishes an annual service payment of $9,000 per megawatt of electricity installed for Huron and Erie counties plus various townships and schools.

According to Apex, the commissioners decided a project-specific PILOT was the more prudent option for Huron County than passing a county-wide alternative energy zone (AEZ). An AEZ would have allowed any project developed in the county to qualify for the PILOT or they could have opted to review it on a project-by-project basis.

“It’s not often a rural community like ours receives interest from a company willing to make a private investment of over $800 million and I applaud our commissioners for seizing this opportunity, which will help the region thrive for decades to come,” said Carol Knapp, executive director of the Huron County Development Council.

Monroeville Village Administrator Tom Gray also is pleased with the commissioners’ decision.

“Our commissioners showed tremendous leadership in recognizing the importance of encouraging renewable energy development and the vast local economic development benefits it delivers. The process they led will help attract this local investment while maintaining our agricultural identity,” he said.

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