Ohio Wind News – Political Power and Solar Plans

HB 6 has moved to the full House Energy and Natural Resources Committee with  numerous revisions but without any change, as yet, to current wind setbacks. A vote on the bill could come as early as this week but more supporters are needed. A Democrat version of an energy bill would create Advanced Energy Credits to maintain a 15% baseline nuclear generation and would include loosening wind turbine setback restrictions, strengthening the renewable energy standard to 50% by 2050, and requiring a 50% in-state preference for new wind and solar projects. None of these ideas are viewed
favorably by the people of NW Ohio.

Proposed Republican revisions to the HB 6 would, in part, enable developers to pursue larger renewable projects for on-site commercial entities. In this scenario, Jereme Kent’s ONE Energy Company that has heretofore been limited to projects of 5MW or less, would be able to increase in size to 20MW. It is not clear whether these projects would require OPSB approval but it is likely they would not if the energy was to power an on-site facility like Whirlpool or Ball.

Gov. DeWine has not endorsed the bill but told reporters in Columbus nuclear power needs to play a role in providing reliable energy in Ohio and reducing carbon emissions. “DeWine’s chief spokesman, Dan Tierney, said the governor favors an “all of the above” strategy for energy and favors wind and solar while also believing nuclear energy must play a role.”*

Testimony in opposition to HB 6 has been overwhelming but it seems the Committee, for the most part, has not found much of it to be compelling. The opposition is not entirely on the Democrat’s side of the aisle and a number of Republicans are also withholding support. This could mean that the Renewable Portfolio Standards will survive in some form. It is less likely that reduced setbacks would be negotiated because of significant opposition. The show of force at the end of last year when wind warriors filled the Senate hearing room has not been forgotten. A setback provision
would entail more testimony and we would be ready! This could slow down the process and, right now, there is little time to spare if the nuclear plants are to be saved.

Solar developers are making inroads in Ohio. They have apparently been working for more than two years to execute leases. One project that has come to light is in Greene County near Cedarville, home to Governor Mike DeWine.* Many in the community do not support the Kingswood Solar Project. Australian-based Lendlease along with Louisiana-based Faulk and Foster have acquired/leased nearly 1,500 acres of land. They are continuing to acquire easements for electrical lines and then will make application to
the OPSB to install an industrial-scale solar photovoltaic field in
Cedarville, Miami and Xenia townships. Say No to Solar Farms in Cedarville, a Facebook group, is hoping to educate residents about what members see as a negative for those communities. This project is near Glen Helen and Camp Clifton. The area values the natural environment but sadly we understand the Tecumseh Land Trust is unwilling to object on the basis that solar is “green”.

Grid operator, PJM, has four industrial scale solar fields in the
“feasibility” stage of planning intended for Champaign County. The sizes are 90MW, 150MW, 78MW and 40MW. A question arises as to how solar fields should be zoned for land use and tax purposes. Unlike wind facilities, industrial-size solar fields cannot be considered agricultural. At least that is our opinion. Persons in the Urbana area of Hickory Grove, Dallas Road and US Route 68 report being contacted to sign leases. In addition a 180MW solar field is in the planning stages in Clark County; five projects are being planned for Madison County one of which is 577 MW!!!! Two of the five Madison County projects are combined for a 196MW project being
developed by First Solar which has a manufacturing company in Wood County.

There are no solar projects in the queue for Logan County.

Iberdrola, EverPower, NextEra, Apex, Swift Current…they are all talking to your Representatives…Are You?