What a week. In a nutshell, this is what happened:
Senators Randy Gardner and Matt Huffman were elected to the 3rd and 4th top leadership positions in the Senate. Gardner’s district includes Erie, Fulton (part), Lucas (part), Ottawa and Wood. Huffman’s district encompasses Allen, Auglaize (part), Champaign, Darke (part), Logan (part), Mercer and Shelby. These areas are vital to our plight, as BigWind is relentless is pursuing large land takeovers. Many constituents, fighting against BigWind in these areas, want setbacks measured from property lines and a right of referendum or local vote on every proposed wind facility.
BigWind, on the other hand, has decided to fight back, ”the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC) and three local landowners in Paulding County filed a lawsuit against the State of Ohio claiming the current property line setback law established in 2014 in HB 483 is unconstitutional. MAREC seeks to have the law overturned. Section 15 (D), Article II of the Ohio Constitution provides: “No bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title. No law shall be revised or amended unless the new act contains the entire act revived, or the section or sections amended, and the section or sections amended shall be repealed.”
The complaint notes that the purpose of HB 483 (also known as the Mid-Biennial Budget Review or MBR) was “to make operating and other appropriations and to provide authorization and conditions for the operation of state programs.” The regulation of economically significant wind turbines is a state program run by the Ohio Power Siting Board. If the setback change in HB 483 is deemed unconstitutional, it is likely to have the unintended consequence of also invalidating many other laws that were adopted in connection with appropriation bills. The General Assembly would likely not be happy with such an outcome.
Is this is a “Hail Mary Pass” being thrown as the time is running out to enact legislation repealing the 2014 setback? It is a serious matter nonetheless. The case is in the Paulding County Court of Common Pleas. If BigWind can’t get what they want through obtaining sufficient Good Neighbor Agreements, they want to take what they need by invalidating the current law. Paulding County Commissioner, Tony Zartman, is quoted saying, ““We strongly support this action. In fact, our concern over this unconstitutional maneuver is so great that we are currently considering joining the case ourselves. We believe filing this lawsuit is in the best interest of our community and our future economic growth.”
Of interest is the announcement of LafargeHolcim, a large cement company in Paulding. Along with ONE Energy, LafargeHolcim will build three turbines to power its facilities. We recall that in 2013, LafargeHolcim was featured in the press as a large provider to the wind industry. They provided the concrete for the Blue Creek turbine foundations and for the roads traveled by heavy equipment used to build the facility….