It gets messy when clean energy plays dirty

SEP 29, 2018 | Matt Markey | Toledo Blade


Then the sludge barrel is opened, and the spin machine is set to turbo. Commissioner Mike Kerschner, a Republican who opposes the current arrangement with wind energy companies, then gets blasted by the pair of apron-wearing, county fair pie-baking mavens. “I guess Kerschner is against good jobs, better schools, and lower taxes,” they conclude in the radio spot. Giggles follow.

This is clean energy playing dirty.

The radio ads, which saturated the air waves in recent weeks, are the product of a Columbus-based entity with the seemingly innocuous name Economic Prosperity Project. Follow the dusty, purposely circuitous trail further, and you’ll find a Florida-based outfit named Strategic Image Management was paid $20,600 to concoct the radio ads. On its website, one Strategic Image Management employee brags about successful efforts “where TEA Party candidates were used to syphon Republican votes in swing districts to help Democrats retain or flip seats.”

. . .

Economic Prosperity Project keeps its financiers confidential. Calls to sPower, the Salt Lake City-based entity behind the Seneca Wind project, to inquire if they funded the radio campaign, were not returned.

It gets even swampier when you consider the potential damage that 80-some giant turbines could inflict on bald eagles, migratory birds, and bats. Wind energy companies hire their own experts, conduct their own studies and carefully carve out their own conclusions.

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The Seneca Wind project also takes the birds vs. blades debate to a new height, since some of the turbines proposed could reach more than 650 feet at the apex of the blade tip, about 250 feet taller than the turbines west of Bowling Green.

“By going that high, they’ve just added another layer of birds that are now at risk,” Shieldcastle said.

He is not a lone voice in the wilderness with his concerns about where wind turbines are placed.

And then there is the human impact. Some Seneca County farmers signed wind turbine leases years ago when they were sold by John Deere. That paper changed hands a few times before landing in sPower’s portfolio, and the prospect of one farmer’s 650-foot tall wind turbine casting its huge King Kong erector set shadow over a neighbor’s rural estate has created a schism of tension and resentment across the wind project’s 25,000-acre footprint in Scipio, Venice, Reed, Bloom and Eden townships.

“This wind project will change Seneca County to look like Seneca County on mars,” said Jim Feasel, a retired builder who owns an 800-acre farm in the county but turned down significant financial overtures to put wind turbines on his property. “I just couldn’t do that to my neighbors.”



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