It has been a crazy week at the Statehouse. The picture is becoming just a little clearer to us and it seems that the bill which Sen. Beagle drafted as Sub. HB 114 was NOT what had been expected. Many were surprised that there was any setback language in the bill at all. Equally surprising was the restoration of mandates even though the mandated amounts were reduced. The House had worked hard to change the mandates to goals. The Senate undid their good work. All is up in the air.
In the meantime, HB 604 was referred to the Public Utilities Committee for Sponsor testimony this coming Tuesday afternoon. HB 604 changes the property line setbacks and it makes the PILOT program for tax abatement permanent. It is not known whether there will actually be hearings on the bill after Rep. Strahorn (D-Dayton) gives his remarks next week. One gossip sheet report we saw this week said:
“John Kasich, Ryan Smith, and their allies have fervently embraced well financed left coast, left wing organizations that are pushing solar and wind for Ohio. At the same time, they are fervently opposed to both coal and nuclear power. As far as they are concerned every coal and nuclear plant in Ohio can close and consumers, investors, and taxpayers can be damned. Householder and his allies believe in more of an all of the above approach versus an either-or approach on energy issues. They know that energy demand in Ohio and across the nation is increasing swiftly and we need coal, gas, hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind to meet the demand inexpensively. They believe that Ohio remaining a low-cost energy producer is absolutely crucial to growing our economic base.”
Tuesday morning, Conservatives for Clean Energy is holding a press conference at the Statehouse presumably to stage a theatrical act to convince Republican lawmakers to move swiftly on Sub. HB 114 or even SB 238 before summer recess. An article from earlier this year from the Washington Examiner lambasting the Conservatives for Clean Energy: “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, which appears to be little more than a front group for purveyors of wind and solar power, who will stop at nothing to keep their industry from having to stand on its own two feet. And that includes presenting themselves as conservative when, in fact, they are garden-variety hustlers looking for a handout.”
Apex has weighed in on Sub HB 114 saying, “The bill includes local engagement requirements, such as public meetings and letters to all adjacent landowners, and preserves ‘local control’ through county government consideration of property tax treatment for wind facilities,” Mr. Goodwin said. “We encourage the legislature and Governor Kasich to approve this measure before the summer recess to allow billions of dollars of investment from utility-scale wind development in Ohio to proceed.” Ridiculous! Every community facing the threat of wind knows that unwitting leaseholders are signed up long before the projects become public. A requirement that public notice be given 60 days before filing with OPSB is laughable. Public information meetings are also currently required and anyone who has ever been to one knows they are worthless and project maps on display show no roads or boundaries. Finally, the notion that the County Commissioner’s authority to abate taxes has NOTHING to do with local input on setbacks or the ability of a community to determine if a project is a net benefit or a net harm.
Finally, we thought we would refresh your memories on what Senator Dolan said about his bill last winter when interviewed: “The setbacks were moved to a distance that really made it nearly impossible for wind farms to develop economically,” Dolan said” Dolan may be telling the truth here. Projects could be built if wind developers were willing to pay neighboring landowners enough money to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement. Would it cost them a little more? Probably. But taking it on an uncompensated basis by the action of the legislature would be more “economical”. We guess that it really is just another handout to prop up the business.
In other news, just when BigWind convinces you that Ohio setbacks restrict their business…
- When Amazon, recently, announced a new facility in Madison County that will employ 1,500 people, Rep. Bill Seitz was quick to point out to his colleagues that “One of the most easily debunked arguments made by advocates of reduced wind turbine setbacks and for the retention of renewable mandates is that such is needed to attract companies like Amazon”.
- Likewise, a solar company announced plans to open an office in Central Ohio despite no special mandates or handouts. “A growing North Carolina business specializing in solar energy and roofing is planning a new office in Worthington. Power Home Solar…as it looks to establish a market in Central Ohio. It says it ultimately looks to employ 65 to 70 in its local roofing operations. It’s looking to hire a mix of back-office staff, salespeople and installers. Founded in 2015 in Mooresville, North Carolina, the company has been listed on the Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing private companies.”