Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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EDITORIAL

Repeal 2014 setback rules for wind turbines

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A huge wind-turbine project may be gone with the wind.

THE BLADE
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A wind turbine company ready to invest $92 million in rural Seneca and Sandusky counties is threatening to walk away from the deal unless Ohio’s “setback” laws — which the company claims senselessly obstruct wind energy development — are repealed.

The company’s complaint is well-founded. Ohio’s setback law originally mandated a minimum of 550 feet to separate a wind turbine from a given property line and 1,300 feet from a home. Problems arose when the 2014 amendment — crafted by then-Senate President Keith Faber (R., Celina) — raised the setback requirement to 1,300 feet measured from the property line, more than doubling the state’s property-line setback.

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Wind energy developers considered this requirement highly onerous, and their money followed them out of Ohio. A 20-page report by two Washington-based industry groups, the American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Energy Foundation, found Ohio has foregone roughly $4.2 billion in potential economic development since the 2014 rules took effect.

Former Ohio Sen. Cliff Hite (R., Findlay) responded to this news by crafting a compromise designed to attract wind energy investment back to Ohio, while safeguarding neighboring properties within reason. The following month, however, what little momentum the bill had gained died when Mr. Hite resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Now $92 million of energy infrastructure investment is set to walk away from Ohio — and this is only the first of five wind farms in the company’s planned project, called Republic Wind. Each of these wind farms would generate 95 to 200 well-paying jobs and enough power for 200,000 to 500,000 homes. The combined investment in the northern half of the state would amount to $2.6 billion over the next decade or so. It is all jeopardized by a terribly conceived piece of legislation that effectively zones wind energy out of Ohio.

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