Online retailer Amazon wants to power its operations on clean energy so it’s building a wind farm in western Ohio. Cleveland TV Ideastream’s Mark Urycki reports the project comes despite the Ohio legislature’s lack of interest in supporting renewable energy sources.
Amazon Web Services has a long-term goal of 100% renewable energy to power its operations. In 2015, Amazon announced construction of three data centers and two distribution centers in the Columbus area. And to help offset the electricity used by those centers, the company is planning the erection of 48 wind turbines in Paulding County on the Indiana border. The county’s economic development director Jerry Zielke says, “They wanted to buy renewable power here in Ohio and of course we have the most wind turbines out here – Van Wert and Paulding Counties – so it definitely was an attraction for Amazon to come to Ohio.”
Paulding already has 92 wind turbines now, many built by EDP Renewables. That company had planned the new wind farm before Amazon signed on. Zielke estimates it will cost about $175 million to $200 million to build the Amazon wind farm. The state assesses a fee on each windmill which he says has been a boon to local schools “It’s definitely improved – one school district alone gets about $750,000 a year they didn’t have before so. And it’s a low tax base rural school so it was really beneficial to them.”
Zielke adds that the company is also hiring several hundred local workers for the construction. “There are incentives for them to use Ohio-sourced labor and construction companies and they’ve pretty much adhered to that. There may be some outside contractors but they try to do mostly local or regional people involved with the construction of these projects It’s a great benefit to northwest Ohio.”
The power generated will be uploaded to the grid on several main transmission lines that run through the county.
In 2008 Governor Ted Strickland signed clean energy standards that required some renewable energy in Ohio. It called for 12.5% of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities come from renewable sources by 2027. But in 2014 Governor John Kasich signed a bill that froze those standards. It also made it more difficult to build any new wind turbines by more than doubling the amount of setback space needed. A few months ago legislators proposed making that freeze indefinite. But in the latest budget bill Ohio legislators added a temporary reprieve to its wind turbine restrictions. Mark.Urycki@ideastream.org