We will likely know next Tuesday whether the Senate includes a revision to wind turbine setbacks in the budget bill. We have heard that the wind folks continue to lobby hard and push the economic development argument, particularly the need to have renewable power available in order to attract Facebook, Amazon, and other intensive users of power. Shockingly, the Columbus Dispatch today publishes an Editorial saying setback revisions belong in a stand-alone bill not in the Budget Bill. Notwithstanding, the Dispatch reports nothing about our testimony nor do they acknowledge that inadequately sited turbines have consequences on people and communities. Instead, they speak arrogantly and contemptuously of the justifications for protective siting. The wind lobby has done such a good job convincing the press of the merit of their argument, they believe the legislation deserves an independent consideration. Surely it would pass easily!
The message from the Dispatch is that the setback revision should not be in the budget but it should come back as stand-alone legislation. The Dispatch thinks Hite’s “compromise” of adding 50 feet to property line setbacks might be the answer. The wind lobby would bring an army with them – including the Ohio Chamber and maybe some County Commissioners. Because the window for federal subsidies is closing and because more and more jurisdictions are finding out that wind-recommended setbacks must be lengthened, the wind lobby will press hard for fast action. At least the Dispatch closes with noting that “both sides have strong arguments.” We will likely have an opportunity to voice them….again….As Charlie Brown would say, “Good grief!”….
In 2014, Ohio lawmakers slipped into an unrelated bill a major change that restricted the development of wind farms in Ohio, a shift that had the potential to impact rural schools’ tax revenues, the state’s economic competitiveness, public safety and quality of life, and the environment.
Wind-energy advocates say this change — by requiring larger setbacks from property lines for the tall wind turbines — effectively zoned out new wind projects in Ohio, leaving us in the dust as neighboring states friendlier to this green-energy technology sited wind farms. They note high-tech companies such as Amazon are looking to locate where the power is greener. They say the restrictive setbacks are a setback for the state’s job and technology prospects….