As published in Toledo Business Journal - January 1, 2017
Greenwich Wind Farm in Huron County
The decision by Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) to place a large wind farm in Hardin County will have a significant impact on the economy in this part of northwest Ohio.
Amazon Wind Farm US Central 2, a planned new 189 megawatt (MW) wind farm in Hardin County will generate 530,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind energy annually starting in December 2017. Amazon is working with EverPower, a developer of utility grade wind projects, to construct, own, and operate the new wind farm. It involves EverPower’s Scioto Ridge project which has been in the siting process for several years. This is AWS’s fifth renewable energy project in the United States (and its second wind farm in Ohio) that will deliver energy onto the electric grid powering AWS data centers located in the Columbus area and also in northern Virginia. When this newest wind farm is completed, AWS’s five renewable energy projects will generate a grand total of 2.2 million MWh of energy annually – enough to power almost 200,000 US homes.
“What’s great for Hardin County is that not all big projects are sited in large cities. This will be a $300 million investment and is the single largest project in our County’s history. In the last three years from 2014 through 2016 there has been a total of approximately $230 million of new investment. This one project is larger than the total of the two dozen plus projects during the past three years.
This project shows how one single investment can help smaller, courthouse communities like Hardin County. There will be important impact to our local schools and government with a large surge in revenues. It will also create new permanent jobs at the wind farm. In addition, there will be construction jobs involved for this large project,” explained Jon Cross, president and CEO of Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance and managing director of economic development.
There will be significant economic impact to this rural area in northwest Ohio. Information in the power siting application filed by EverPower provides insight into this issue.
The proposed wind farm will increase the local tax base, including local school districts and other taxing districts that service the area where the wind farm will be located. Taxing districts within the original proposed project area include Hardin County, Logan County, Lynn Township, McDonald Township, Richland Township, Roundhead Township, Rushcreek Township, Taylor Creek Township, Indian Lake School District, Benjamin Logan Local School District, Upper Scioto Valley School District, and Kenton City School District. The project area has been reduced in size since the initial project filing.
Blue Creek Wind Farm in Paulding County
The amount of the annual public sector service payment by AWS will range between $6,000 and $9,000 per MW of capacity. This will result in an estimated amount between $1.1 to $1.7 million in new tax revenues for the area. In addition, the County may also require that an additional tax exempt payment be made to be allocated to the County’s general fund. When wind turbines are added in the future to expand power generation capacity, these tax revenues will increase.
Further, the developer, EverPower, indicates that there will be 10 to 12 full time permanent jobs at the wind farm. In addition, during the 18 month construction period, there will be approximately 150 full and part-time workers.
Additional economic impact is highlighted in the power siting application: “The proposed Facility will have a beneficial impact on the local economy. In addition to the jobs created during construction and the wages paid to the work force, the Facility will have a direct economic benefit from the first round of buying and selling, which includes the purchase of goods from local sources (such as fuel), the spending of income earned by workers, annual labor revenues, and the income effect of taxes. These direct effects will result in additional, subsequent rounds of buying and selling in other sectors. In addition, local governments will see net gains in revenue for a period of up to 30 years, and participating landowners will receive revenue from lease payments. The annual lease payments will be a direct financial benefit to participating landowners, and will enhance the ability of those in the agricultural industry to continue farming. Like other local expenditures, the lease payments will also enhance the ability of participating landowners to purchase additional goods and services. To the extent that these purchases are made locally, they will have a broader positive effect on the local economy.”
In November 2014, AWS shared its long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for the global AWS infrastructure footprint. Ambitious sustainability initiatives over the last 18-24 months have put AWS on track to exceed its 2016 goal of 40% renewable energy use and enabled AWS to set a new goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017. In addition to investing in wind and solar projects that deliver more renewable energy to the electrical grids that power AWS Cloud data centers, AWS continues to innovate in its facilities and equipment to increase energy efficiency, as well as to advocate for federal and State policies aimed at creating a favorable renewable energy environment.
This second Ohio wind project joins Amazon Wind Farm US Central (100MW) in Paulding County, which AWS announced in November 2015 and will start producing wind energy in May 2017. Other AWS renewable energy projects in the US include Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge (100MW) in Indiana and Amazon Solar Farm US East (80MW) in Virginia – both of which are currently in production. Amazon Wind Farm US East (280MW) is located in North Carolina.
“We remain committed to achieving our long-term goal of powering the AWS Cloud with 100% renewable energy,” said Peter DeSantis, vice president, Infrastructure, AWS. “There are lots of things that go into making this a reality, including governments implementing policies that stimulate cost-effective renewable energy production, businesses that buy that energy, economical renewable projects from our development partners and utilities, as well as technological and operational innovation that drives greater efficiencies in our global infrastructure. We continue to push on all of these fronts to stay well ahead of our renewable energy goals.”
“We applaud Amazon’s goal to power the global infrastructure for the industry-leading AWS Cloud with renewable energy and are pleased to collaborate in this effort. Leading companies like AWS are enabling the construction of large, utility-scale renewable power projects that will ultimately help to offset the energy supplied by fossil fuels and create a cleaner, healthier environment for our communities,” said Jim Spencer, CEO of EverPower, a US leader in wind projects. EverPower has seven active projects in four states producing a total 752 MW of energy, with a near-term pipeline of an additional 2,000 MW.
Beyond the sustainability initiatives focused on powering the AWS global infrastructure, Amazon is investing in several other clean energy activities across the company. Examples of other projects include Amazon Wind Farm Texas – a 253MW wind farm in Scurry County, Texas – green rooftops, and the District Energy Project that uses recycled energy for heating Amazon offices in Seattle.