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What is Community Wind?

Wind Turbine

One of the four wind turbines in operation at the Wood County landfill in Bowling Green, Ohio. This turbine is a Danish-built Vestas model with a capacity rating of 1.8 megawatts. Photo by - Photos by Robert Pence - www.robertpence.com

More than 1,800 homes in Northwest Ohio are powered by wind thanks to Ohio’s first large scale community wind project—part of a new, growing trend in alternate energy.

The $9.2 million Bowling Green Wind Farm—opened in 2003, financed by public funds and owned by the city of Bowling Green and nine other Ohio communities is an example of “community wind,” a term that refers to wind energy project ownership. Project owners might be local businesses, universities, local school districts, farmers, cooperatives or any local resident with a desire to invest in wind energy. Community wind projects may consist of a single turbine or a multi-turbine wind farm.

The primary potential advantage of community wind projects is stimulation of the local economy. Community wind projects typically generate increased economic impact from three sources. The use of local labor and materials increases local financial impact. Profitable projects with local ownership provide dividend income to local owners. Community wind projects may also create financial impact when local banks are used for construction financing and operating loans.

At the end of 2008, it was estimated that community wind provided about four percent of the total installed wind capacity nationwide, according to Community Wind 101: A Primer for Policymakers. Over the last few years, community wind growth has been hampered due to a tight market for wind turbines. However, as wind turbines are becoming more readily available, and as advocates become successful in lobbying for state policies supporting community wind, the number of projects in Ohio is increasing.

A growing number of new community wind projects have been installed or are in the planning stages in Ohio.Since November, the scrap yard of Pearl Road Auto Parts in Cleveland has obtained most of its electrical energy from a 120 kilowatt wind turbine installed at their facility.

At least eight additional community wind projects have received grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State of Ohio Energy Program:

  • Archbold Area Local Schools, Archbold-$750,000 to install a 500 Kilowatt wind turbine.
  • Cuyahoga County, Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds-$1 million to install a single 600 kilowatt wind turbine
  • Green City Growers Cooperative, Cleveland-$1 million to install a 1.5 megawatt wind turbine.
  • City of Huron local school district-$280,000 to install a 100 kilowatt wind turbine.
  • Kenston Local School District, Chagrin Falls-$630,000 to install a 600 kilowatt wind turbine.
  • Lincoln Electric Company, Euclid-$1 million to install a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine
  • Pettisville Local Schools, Pettisville-$750,000 to install a 500 kilowatt wind turbine
  • Toledo Electric Joint Apprentice and Training Committee, Rossford-$420,000 to install a 100 kilowatt wind turbine

These projects have come together through hard work, local innovation and public policies that support locally owned projects.

For more information on community wind, visit www.windustry.org.

Reprinted with permission from EcoWatch Journal, www.ecowatch.org.

Editorial Notes: Related: Unity Wind Community Turbines, a similar project in the UK. -KS

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