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Spring Housing Guide

Bowling Green residents concerned after city’s turbines near end of lifespan

Photo+of+wind+turbines
Andrew Kish
Photo of wind turbines

Residents of BG are raising concerns and seeking answers as one of the city’s renewable energy sources is coming to an end.

Four wind turbines, each standing at 391 feet tall, currently sit at the Wood County Landfill and account for part of the city’s renewable energy infrastructure. As the turbines are near the end of their lifespan, one resident is concerned Bowling Green is moving in the wrong direction.

“Bowling Green seems to be going backward,” said BG resident Joseph R. DeMare. “We seem to be regressing rather than progressing because getting rid of the turbines at this point, when the State of Ohio has passed laws that would make it almost impossible to build new turbines to replace them, is a really short-sighted and bad decision.”

DeMare is co-chair for the Wood County Green Party and says the turbines are an important symbol of Bowling Green.

“Those turbines are a symbol of Bowling Green as a progressive community,” he said. “Frankly, it’s one of the reasons my wife and I moved here 12 years ago because we were encouraged by a community that had enough foresight to build wind turbines back at that time.”

BG Falcon Media reached out to city officials to clarify what exactly is happening with the windmills.

Amanda Gamby, communications director for the City of Bowling Green, confirms Ohio’s first utility-scale wind farm will cease operations in 2025.

Gamby directed BG Falcon Media to the Renewable Energy page on the city’s website for additional information.

Two turbines were originally installed nearly 20 years ago in 2003, with two additional units installed in 2004, according to the city’s website. One of the four units was retired in 2021 due to the expense of the repairs.

Gamby said when first constructed, it was expected the turbines would have a 20-year lifespan.

While the project may be nearing capacity, the city of Bowling Green is the largest recipient of generated power, according to the American Municipal Power’s (AMP) website.

DeMare, who is passionate about renewable energy, said it’s important for the city to figure out a solution.

“It’s our only practical path to a carbon-free future,” DeMare said when asked about the importance of renewable energy.

He also said clean energy is a valuable need.

“Typically, these turbines last 25 years or more, and the idea of tearing them down right now when we need clean energy more than ever is just ridiculous, frankly,” said DeMare.

He suggested the city utilize Vestas, the wind turbine’s manufacturer.

“Vestas, the company that manufactures them, has a system where they will refurbish turbines. They will take them down, ship them to a refurbishment factory, and they come back in new or better-than-new condition—that’s what I think we should be doing with these turbines,” he said.

However, according to the information provided by the city, the current V80 turbine model has been made obsolete by Vestas, which has resulted in difficulty finding parts. As a result of this, Vestas said their current maintenance contract is the last it will provide to the turbines, and it is set to end in 2025.

“The idea that we’re just going to tear them down is not only bad from a practical point of view in terms of we’re going to have to buy more expensive coal power from the Prairie State coal plant in Illinois to make up for this power,” said DeMare.

DeMare, who ran for mayor against current BG Mayor Mike Aspacher, said his loss in that race should not be mistaken as a letdown to the issues he was campaigning for.

“People should not mistake my rejection as mayor as a rejection of the issues that I was campaigning on,” he said.

The turbines accounted for 1% of the city’s annual energy purchases.

BG Falcon Media asked the city if more effort would be put into the other renewable energy sources the city currently utilizes as the turbines near their ending.

“The city is looking at options to replace with another renewable energy source,” said Gamby.

As for the plans of whether the turbines will remain on the Wood County Landfill, be torn down or what will happen with the turbine parts, such as the blades that each weigh 22,000 pounds, according to the Wood County Solid Waste Management District’s website, Gamby said project owners are still discussing their options.

DeMare said residents who are concerned about the ending of Bowling Green’s wind farm operation should voice their opinions.

“I think [citizens] should contact the members of the municipal utility board and tell them they don’t want the turbines torn down. If people want to see our community continue to be a progressive symbol in Northwest Ohio, we need to stand up for things like wind and solar,” he said.

 

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