The idea of electricity-producing wind turbines has been on the minds of Marysville officials lately, but it could take time for the city to have the the capability to take a serious look at the energy alternative.

The idea of electricity-producing wind turbines has been on the minds of Marysville officials lately, but it could take time for the city to have the the capability to take a serious look at the energy alternative.

Marysville's planning commission first requested more information on the idea about a year ago, said city planner Greg DeLong. Logan-Union-Champaign (LUCRPC) Regional Planning Commission director Jenny Snapp delivered a presentation to Marysville Planning Commission members at the time, DeLong said, and since then she has been presenting similar information all over the state.

The hard part about defining standards in Marysville for wind energy, however, is a lack of precedent in other cities. DeLong said that most areas in Ohio and other states that have language on their books regulating windmills are either counties or townships - not cities. A city faces different needs and restrictions than other types of municipalities, he said.

"We have found a few (cities) with regulations for windmills, but some of those are like Cleveland - not very similar to Marysville," DeLong said. "Right now we're just gathering all the information we can."

According to information prepared by the LUCRPC, Ohio ranks fifth in the nation in energy consumption, with 86 percent of the state's energy derived from coal. Less than 1 percent of Ohio's energy comes from alternative sources. This will need to change in the future, however. SB 221, signed by then-Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008, implemented Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS). These require that by 2025, 25 percent of electricity sold in Ohio must come from alternative technology, with at least half of that being from renewable sources.

State agencies could also play into the process of building such energy sources in Marysville and Union County at large, DeLong said. Any plant generating more than five megawatts (mw) of power must be approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). Those larger turbines are under jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).

Currently, 555 wind turbines have been approved by the OPSB in Ohio. They are located in Champaign, Paulding, Van Wert and Hardin counties. The closest turbines to Marysville are found at the Buckeye Wind Farm in Champaign County, which includes 54 turbines generating 135 MW of power.

"We're not necessarily looking at coming up with regulations for (turbines) exceeding five MW for Marysville," DeLong said. "Our concern is that our lots here in the city are smaller. Our anticipation would be that if someone decided to build a wind turbine (before any regulations are in place), it would go before the Board of Zoning Appeals, probably as a conditional-use application."

DeLong said the city's goal is to have some sort of regulation of wind turbines on the books by the end of the year, probably around December. Taking a proactive approach to issues like this ultimately is a benefit for city residents, he said.

"I think it's good to have rules for this sort of thing in place, so that for those who choose to make an investment in their community, they know up front what's required of them and what limitations they have to work in," DeLong said.

Detailed statistics on Ohio's wind turbine locations, along with alternative energy production capabilities, can be found online at www.opsb.ohio.gov.