Ohioans step up their fight against BigWind

This week we achieved a significant victory in the Ohio House of Representatives with the passage of HB 6 which will save clean energy generation at the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants and will give township voters the right of referendum to accept or reject OPSB certificates of approval for industrial wind projects over 20MW.   Projects under 20 MW would be subject to local zoning. We have never been closer to regaining a voice in the future of our communities than we are today….but, this battle is far from over and it is certainly no time to celebrate.

We owe much to the hard work of Rep. Nino Vitale, Chairman of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well as Rep. Dick Stein who co-chaired the Energy Generation Subcommittee.  Thanks, too, go to the support of the Speaker of the House Larry Householder.  Of course, Rep. Bill Reineke’s amendment to allow local voters a chance to accept or reject a wind development was key!

But we need to also recognize the enormous efforts of the citizens of Seneca, Huron, Erie, Van Wert, Logan, Champaign and Richland Counties.  Wow.  Warriors arrived early to rally outside the Statehouse House doors.  Wearing that signature “No Wind Yellow,”  our friends stood out like vibrant points of light in the House Chamber gallery.  Make no mistake – this was a group effort and the geographic representation was critical.  Thank you.

As joyous as the day was, there were a few dark spots.  Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance who was elected by the anti-wind community in a primary battle against pro-wind Tony Burkley turned his back on his constituents. Despite claiming that he had a need to adhere to his free-market principles, Riedel refused to eliminate artificial state mandates for renewables and energy efficiency.  He was not persuaded by the fact that nuclear support would phase out after six years when no generation source would be subsidized by Ohio rate-payers. Not even the prospect of rescuing his constituents from the predations of industrial wind could sway Riedel.  We do not know how he can look his people in eye without everlasting shame.

Other traitors to the cause of representing their constituents were Rep. Gayle Manning of North  Ridgeville and Riordan McClain of Upper Sandusky.  Mark Romanchuk of Mansfield was another Republican defector.  The final vote was 53 to 43 with 10 of the AYE votes coming from Democrats who supported the labor unions working at the nuclear plants. The Roll  Call of the Votes is attached.

It should be noted that one of the failed amendments to the bill on the floor was one that would reduce the setbacks and restore measurement to a habitable structure.  Rep. Seitz gave an eloquent rebuttal and the amendment went down.

After the vote, various groups immediately issued statements claiming HB 6 is ‘gutting’ our green energy mandates. There will surely be more statements in the coming days. When is the last time you wrote a letter to the editor?

The bill now goes to the Senate where President Obhof says he is eager to get going and plans to launch hearings next week in the Senate Public Utilities Committee.  Members of this committee are Republican: Chair Steve Wilson (Maineville), Vice Chair Rob McColley (Napolean), Andy Brenner (Powell), Dave Burke (Marysville), Matt Dolan (Chagrin Falls), John Eklund (Chardon), Frank Hoagland (Adena), Matt Huffman (Lima) ,  Bob Peterson (Sabina) and Michael Rulli (Salem).  Democrat: Ranking Minority Member Sandra Williams (Cleveland), Hearcel Craig (Columbus) and Sean O’Brien (Bazetta).  

“I think it’s important to note that, if the House passes it, that’s the midpoint of the legislative process,” Sen. Obhof said prior to the House vote. “We still have a whole second chamber that needs to do its work. The budget certainly is going to take up a lot of our man-hours over the next few weeks, but I am confident that we have the ability to give both pieces of legislation and any other of the many pieces of legislation are pending full and fair consideration over that span.”

Gov. DeWine, who made calls to members this week encouraging their support, applauded the chamber for the bill’s passage. He has voiced support for action to preserve the FES plants. 

“I know this issue is difficult because there are so many Ohioans affected and so many parties interested in the outcome, and I support Speaker Householder and House leadership moving this discussion forward,” he said. “As I have previously stated, Ohio needs to maintain carbon-free nuclear energy generation as part of our energy portfolio. In addition, these energy jobs are vital to Ohio’s economy. I look forward to this legislative discussion continuing in the Ohio Senate.”