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Exelon to build its first commercial wind farm in Ohio


Exelon, known mostly as the largest nuclear generator in the US, is awind energy developer as well, and the company is planning its firstcommercial wind farm in Ohio.

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The Chicago-based company's Exelon Wind subsidiary this week filed apre-application notification letter with the Ohio Power Siting Board of itsintent to install up to 87 turbines to generate as much as 200 MW in northernOhio's Seneca County.

"We are in the early stages of development," company spokeswoman KristinOtterness said Tuesday.

The OPSB, an arm of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, has awell-defined, formal process for siting generation and transmission projects.

According to PUC spokesman Matt Schilling, a developer first must submitthe notification letter to the seven-member board. Then, a public hearing mustbe held in a community near the proposed project site. Finally, a formalapplication is filed with the board. Several months later, the board issuesits decision.

Sally Bloomfield, a veteran Columbus, Ohio, attorney who often representsdevelopers of generation and transmission projects, said Tuesday it probably will be several months before Exelon Wind submits its formal application.

Based on the preliminary filing, about 87 turbines, each with a capacityof 2.3 MW to 2.5 MW, would stretch across about 25,000 leased acres of land inportions of Scipio, Reed, Eden, Bloom and Venice townships in the county.

Exelon Wind is requesting waivers from the board involving severalissues, including that it be allowed to provide a general narrativedescription of the vegetative cover that may be disturbed during construction,rather than a required map.

Bloomfield said such waiver requests are "not novel" and have beengranted in a number of recent wind energy cases in Ohio.

Unlike some of its neighboring states, wind energy has been slow to takehold in Ohio, a traditional heavy manufacturing state that long has relied oncoal-fired generation and where five major natural gas-fired plants totalingmore than 4,000 MW are under construction and/or development.

While about a dozen projects representing 687 turbines and 1,346 MW ofwind generation either have been approved by state regulators or are pending,Schilling said only two wind farms are operating -- the 304-MW Blue Creek WindFarm in Van Wert and Paulding counties and the 99-MW Timber Road 2 Wind Farm in Paulding County.

Blue Creek was developed by Blue Creek Wind LLC, Timber Road 2 by EDPRenewables North America LLC.

Construction is expected to start soon, perhaps later this year, onseveral other approved wind farms, possibly including the 224.7-MW SciotoRidge in Logan and Hardin counties.

Otterness said Exelon Wind has developed 47 wind projects totaling almost1,500 MW in 10 states -- Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan,Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas.

Its parent company owns more than 20,000 MW of nuclear generation,including about 11,000 MW in Illinois. Exelon recently announced plans toclose its money-losing Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants in Illinoistotaling nearly 3,000 MW on June 1, 2017, and June 1, 2018, respectively,after the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass legislation sought by thecompany.

--Bob Matyi, by Jason Lindquist,