It appears the legislature’s Conference Committee has completed its work on the two-year state budget. A puzzling amendment was adopted by the Committee.
Yesterday, we reported that the Ohio Senate inserted a provision into the budget that would exempt a wind developer, who wishes to amend an OPSB-approved project, from the requirements of current property line setbacks. To obtain the exemption, the wind project must meet certain criteria. One of the criteria was a requirement that the wind developer file an application for the setback exemption within 90 days after the enactment of the budget. The 90 day requirement was changed to 180 days. The rule would now require that a wind developer seeking to amend their approved certificate, without becoming subject to property line setbacks, must meet these requirements:
1. The sole purpose of the amendment is to change the turbine model that was previously approved by OPSB.
2. The number of turbines is not increased.
3. The exemption must be sought within 180 days of the budget bill’s enactment.
4. The new turbines to be installed are technologically more advanced or efficient than the originally approved models.
5. The new models are not more than 8% taller than the approved models.
6. The developer is obligated by contract to supply energy to a mercantile customer that uses at least 7 million kilo-watt hours a year.
7. The turbines will be placed in the same locations as the originally approved turbines.
Eleven Ohio wind projects hold Ohio Power Siting Board certificates of approval. Any of these projects desiring to change their approved turbine models will be eligible to do so without needing to alter existing approved setbacks if they meet the criteria above. The change to 180 days (six months) is a significant amount of time allowed for turbine substitutions and finding a buyer for power. OPSB-approved projects that could potentially benefit from the new provision in the budget bill are:
Everpower Buckeye I and II Champaign County
EDP Timber Road I and III Paulding County
EDP Van Wert II Van Wert County
JW Great Lakes Wind Hog Creek I Hardin County (Request to Change Turbine Model Pending)
Invenergy Hardin Wind I Hardin County
National Wind Haviland/Northwest Ohio Wind Paulding County
JW Great Lakes Hog Creek II Hardin County (Request to Change Turbine Model Pending)
Apex Emerson Creek Huron County
WindLab Greenwich Wind Huron County
Is this a wise decision to now let the Ohio Senate change decisions that were already determined by the OPSB? Is this fair to individuals who have leased their lands? If they expected a certain height/setback and now, the developer can change the game, will any property owners complain? And, finally, if developers want to change their turbines in less than 1 year after approval, what does this mean about the future of the placed turbines? Will they become obsolete pretty quick? Yes, we suspect so….