AWEA stepped up its game this week while managing to also step into a mess of their own making. On Wednesday, HB 190 received its first hearing with testimony from sponsors Tony Burkley (R-Paulding County) and Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green). Wind lobbyists and mother hens, Dayna Baird and Terrence O’Donnell, hovered over them as they prepared to deliver AWEA’s arguments for extending tax abatement and rolling back property line setbacks. The sponsor testimony is attached. Burkley and Brown took turns reading paragraphs.
The testimony focused on the need for economic development and particularly the opportunity to attract data centers to Ohio. The sponsors believe that Ohio will be disadvantaged in its efforts to attract high tech firms unless renewable energy (aka wind) is available. Rep. Brown was asked to share the economic impact of the Bowling Green turbines and replied that 350 people came for the ribbon cutting even though it was raining. WHAT??? He had nothing more to offer in response to the question. Rep. Amstutz asked about what the cost per job is relative to the subsidy and got no answer. Then a question was raised by Rep. Buchy as to whether taxpayer money is “free money”.
Not once did the sponsors disclose that some of the PILOT money would go the local County Commissioner’s discretionary fund. They implied that without PILOT, roads would not be repaired. The question and answer period revealed how little the Committee understood what the bill was about. And the sponsor testimony was a mishmash of misdirection. We will have our work cut out when opponent testimony is scheduled but in the meantime, Rep. Brown announced that they were working with “Dayna” to prepare a “fact sheet”. They will be taking their show on the road to Chambers of Commerce across the state to generate support. From the articles below, it appears they have already “educated” some Editorial Boards.
The good news? Despite stressing over and over and over that data centers and tech firms won’t come to Ohio without HB 190, on Friday Governor Kasich and Amazon announced a major investment in Ohio to establish data centers. “When asked if Ohio’s track record on clean energy gave the company pause – as some clean energy advocates predicted – Mr. Misener said the decision was “holistic” and that the company “couldn’t have picked a better partner.” “But when it came right down to it, it was the governor, his vision, his leadership and his support of Amazon throughout this whole project that made a difference,” he said. “That made it easy to come here.” We guess AWEA may have to scrub that talking point in the next hearing.
Tomorrow, the Mandate Study Committee will meet for possibly the last time. AWEA will testify along with several others. We are reminded of the old saying favored by Ronald Reagan: “It‘s not that people are ignorant, it’s that folks know so much that ain’t so.”…
Wind Power Bill Tied To Attracting High-Tech Businesses, Data Centers; Setbacks Would Be Locally Adjusted
Two House Republicans argued Wednesday that extending incentives for wind turbine development in the state would pay dividends by attracting “green”-minded tech companies to Ohio.
Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green), the main sponsor of a measure dealing with tax credits and wind farm setbacks (HB 190) along with Rep. Tony Burkley (R-Paulding), also pushed back on the notion that wind energy firms would be unfairly “subsidized” under the proposal….
The sponsor was responding in part to concerns raised by fellow Republicans on the panel including Rep. Kristine Roegner (R-Hudson), who questioned why wind energy was singled out in the bill for tax credits.
Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) also questioned government support for the industry, particularly prior federal programs that he said propped up developments by covering large percentages of their costs. “My concern is not the subsidy, per se, it’s the amount of subsidy,” he said….
Under the proposal, an Ohio “payment in lieu of taxes” program, which is slated to sunset after being extended twice for two-year increments, would be extended again for five years. The PILOT program, the sponsors said, set a per megawatt amount of $9,000 and required projects to: be approved by county commissioners; employ at least 50% Ohio-domiciled workers during construction; entail training and equipping fire and emergency responders in the project area; include road and bridge repairs to “preconstruction conditions” as determined by the county engineer; post a bond with the county for those repairs; and “establish a relationship with a university to educate and train individuals for careers in wind and solar industries….”
The bill would also address what Rep. Brown in an interview described as the “egregious” wind turbine setbacks enacted last session. “Under the previous law, the minimum setback for a wind turbine from a non-participating landowner’s property line was 1.1 x the total height of the turbine as measured from its base to the tip of its highest blade, which is ” approximately 540 feet,” he said in testimony. “The new setback is approximately 1,300 feet – 1,125 plus the length of the turbine blade – which virtually eliminates the potential for wind farm development.
“Our bill would maintain the current law’s setback as the default, but allow the local county commissioners the option to waive the new setback and reestablish the prior setback instead,” Mr. Brown added….
via Statehouse news sources