TIFFIN, OH — A new poll released Wednesday shows residents in Seneca County are overwhelmingly against the proposed wind energy projects in the area.
The poll was conducted by TiffinOhio.net Research and ran from Sept. 9 to Sept. 12, surveying 1,043 individuals online via SurveyMonkey with a margin of error of plus/minus 2 percent.
The poll found that 75.84% of Seneca County residents oppose the wind projects, while 21.67% support and approximately 2.5% said they’re unsure/don’t know how they feel on the issue.
Respondents are concerned about a wide range of issues when deciding whether or not they support the wind projects. The majority (43%) said their top concern was health, the environment, and nature. Land & property rights are a top concern for 36% of respondents, while the economy & jobs only represent the most important concern for around 8% of respondents.
Over 55% of respondents said that green energy in some form (such as solar, etc.) is a priority to protect the environment.
Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner, a Republican who is running for re-election in November, changed his position on wind energy months ago and now opposes the plan. Bill Reineke, running for re-election as state representative, initially supported the project but now opposes it. Reineke’s opponent, Rachel Crooks (D), is also opposed to the project.
Seneca County Commissioners Holly Stacy and Shayne Thomas, both Republicans, support the wind energy project.
This isn’t to say that these two officials in particular changed their position only due to running for re-election this November, but it does show that there may be a political benefit to doing so.
About 67% of respondents said that if a candidate running for office supports wind energy, they’d be less likely to vote for that candidate. 17% said it’d make them more likely to vote for the candidate, while 11% said it wouldn’t make a difference.
Those saying Republicans and Democrats don’t agree on anything nowadays may have spoken too soon. While independent voters are the most likely to oppose the wind energy project, Republicans are much more likely to oppose the wind energy project than Democrats. However, a majority of both Republicans (77%) and Democrats (55%) oppose the project.
Democrats (55%) and independents (43%) were more likely than Republicans (39%) to cite health, the environment, and nature as their top concern when it comes to this issue. The majority of Republicans (41%) said land & property rights was their top concern.
Democrats were far more likely (80%) than both Republicans (51%) and independents (50%) to say that some form of green energy is a priority to protect the environment. However, the majority of all groups agreed that it is a priority.
Republicans (69%) and independents (72%) were far more likely than Democrats (48%) to say that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate if the candidate supports wind farm projects. However, the majority of all three groups said they’d be less likely to vote for the candidate.
sPower, the owner and developer of the Seneca Wind farm, says the project is expected to generate 212 megawatts of capacity over its 30-year projected lifetime. According to sPower, Seneca Wind will have a potential of injecting roughly $400 million in private investment in the region.
sPower estimates that Seneca Wind will deliver approximately $18 million in county and township payments over the life of the project, as well as another $36 million going to local schools and roughly $29 million going to landowners participating in the project.