The size of a planned wind farm in Groton and Oxford townships will depend largely on how many farmers want to lease their land to harvest money from the air, the development's project manager says.
"Without you, there is no project," Matthew Krivos, project manager for JW Great Lakes Wind, told a group of about 50 rural landowners and others who assembled for a Wednesday night meeting at Groton Township Hall.
The company is owned by a German alternative power company, the Juwi Group. It is attempting to build what would be Erie County's first utility-scale wind farm, a series of wind turbines that would cover a large area of southern Erie County.
Krivos explained the ultimate size of the wind farm will depend upon how many landowners agree to terms on 30-year leases allowing the company to build windmills 262 feet tall on their property. He did not reveal the offers the company is making, saying the details are proprietary.
Another factor is reaching interconnection agreements with the utilities that will accept the wind-generated electricity into their transmission grids, Krivos said.
A utility-scale wind farm could be anywhere from 30 to 150 megawatts, he said.
A 1.5-megawatt wind turbine can produce enough power for 400 homes, or 1,600 people.
JW Great Lakes Wind has been working on the project since August, said Steve Goodman, project coordinator for the wind farm. Krivos said getting a wind farm going takes anywhere from two to five years.
Goodman said agreements on leases already have been reached with some landowners. He would not say how many, noting that the figure is a moving target, anyway, but said the company is pleased with the progress so far.
Wednesday's meeting, one of a series the company has been hosting to explain the project, drew interested locals such as Jane Tinker, who lives on Patten Tract Road in Oxford Township. Tinker explained that she and her son, Seth Tinker, who also came to the meeting, are involved with a family farm in Oxford Township owned by her father.
Tinker said she is "totally intrigued" with the proposal but wants to hear details about a possible offer.
"We have talked with Mr. Goodman. We haven't met yet," she said, explaining that the family was busy harvesting crops when Goodman offered to meet.
The planned wind farm does not have a formal name. Goodman said the company has dubbed it the "I-80 project."
The company also is developing wind farms in other Ohio counties. Some projects are six months to a year ahead of Erie County's, Krivos said.
He said his company also is studying the feasibility of an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie, working under a contract with Cuyahoga County, and also is working for the City of Cleveland, looking at whether wind power can be generated on city property.
Asked about the downside of wind farms, Krivos and Goodman said complaints about similar projects tend to center on whether people like looking at them and hearing the noise they generate.
The newer model wind turbines generate only a gentle "whoosh," Goodman said.
As a rule of thumb, each wind turbine might require 50-80 acres. A spectator in southern Erie County's flat farm country could expect to see a line of them extending over the horizon.
Krivos said the company will have to finish reaching agreements with landowners before deciding where to place the wind turbines and how many to put up.
He said a 100-megawatt wind farm would have 50 2-megawatt wind turbines. That's an example -- not an announcement on how large Erie County's will be, he said.