Last updated: April 11. 2014 11:44AM - 4115 Views
By Jereme Kent and Ed Weston Special to The Lima News

Jereme Kent calls wind energy an investment in Ohio's future.
Jereme Kent calls wind energy an investment in Ohio's future.
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We don't get all the fuss being made about wind energy in Ohio. When we see a wind turbine, we see better education for Ohio students, higher profits for Ohio farmers, and lower long term energy costs. Every single 2 megawatt wind turbine in Ohio represents a $4 million capital investment in the state; it represents an annual tax commitment to local school districts of not less than $12,000 per year; it means thousands of dollars each year in lease payments to a local farmer; and it means lower electricity costs with 20 years of fixed rate certainty.

Here are the facts: Ohio needs to attract capital investment to grow. Wind energy does that, and it does it without costing the state a single penny. Ohio needs to invest in education to stay competitive for generations to come. Wind energy does that without costing the state a single penny. We need to take steps to curb the continued electric rate increases that utilities continue to burden Ohioans with. Wind energy does that without costing the state a single penny.

With a wind turbine, all the cost is up front and then the fuel is free, unlike other non-renewable energy technologies. This means that there are not going to be future rate increases because of rising fuel costs. Ohio farmers are fighting harder and harder each year to turn a profit. Wind energy developers pay local farmers millions of dollars per year in annual lease payments that are far more financially attractive than the crop footprint they displace.

We understand and sympathize with Ohioans who are concerned about responsible siting of turbines. We absolutely agree that turbines, like all technologies, need to be sited and operated properly. We have to trust that regulators like the Ohio Power Siting Board are balancing the best interests of locals and the state. Not a single member of the public has ever been killed by a wind turbine in the United States, and wind energy is the safest mainstream form of electricity available.

No energy technology is perfect, but as long as we manufacture products, turn on lights, log into our computers, talk on our iPhones, and expect to have electricity play a major role in our lives, we have to have a way to make it. Considering the other options, we'll take wind energy any day of the week.

We hear the misinformed say that wind is not cost effective. That is false. Here are the numbers: a 2 megawatt wind turbine has an installed cost of $4,000,000. It costs $50,000 a year to maintain, it pays $20,000 a year in state taxes and lease payments and it lasts for at least 20 years. The total lifetime cost for the turbine is $5,400,000. During those 20 years that turbine will, on average, produce 38% of its full nameplate rating for an annual total of 6,600,000 kilowatt hours per year (the average US home consumes 10,000 kilowatt hours per year). Over its life the wind turbine produces 131,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. The total cost divided by the total production results in an average electricity cost of 4 cents per kilowatt hour (without a single incentive). Incentives lower that cost; finance costs and markup increases that cost, but at the end of the day the average turbine in Ohio sells power for less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is far less than any of us pay for power (most homes pay more than 11 cents per kilowatt hour).

Wind energy projects aren't paid for by utilities or tax-payers or state grants; they are paid for by outside investors and energy companies. In exchange for investing millions of dollars in this state, we make those developers spend millions more on taxes for schools, land leases, and studies for permitting, and we should. But maybe, just maybe, we should stop attacking wind developers and start supporting them.

Maybe, just maybe, we should realize that energy is a vital part of our lives and we have to produce it somewhere. Until other technologies figure out how to be safer, have more predictable long-term costs, and contribute as much to their communities as wind energy; we'll take as much wind as possible. When we see wind turbines, we see an investment in our communities, an investment in our children, an investment in our farmers, and an investment in our energy future.

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