As the new General Assembly gets underway and Governor-elect DeWine puts together his Cabinet, there are a couple of things to note. Current Senate Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green has been tapped to be the new Chancellor of the Dept. of Higher Education. His move to the Cabinet will open a vacancy in the 2nd Senate District. If the Republicans appoint a replacement from the House, it is possible that Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) or Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) could be chosen. Sen. Gardner was a co-sponsor of Dolan’s setback bill but it was believed he came to appreciate the position of local people who would be impacted by wind development. It will be very important to reach out to Sen. Gardner’s successor.
Another Cabinet appointment is former Rep. Dorothy Pelanda of Marysville who will become the Director of Agriculture. Pelanda has always voted with the wind industry despite our efforts to educate her.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the legislative priorities of the incoming leadership in the Ohio House and Senate. One of Senate President Obhof’s five priorities is to “Overhaul energy laws. Obhof said he would like a comprehensive review of all of the energy laws. Examples of laws that could be changed are the renewable standard and the wind turbine setback rule.” We are not certain what that means but we hope it means that he would be willing to give local citizens a voice in approving siting. House Minority Leader, Rep. Fred Strahorn of Dayton also listed setbacks as a legislative priority. “As part of encouraging higher-paying jobs, Strahorn would like to change the wind turbine setback law, which he believes would encourage more wind energy companies to invest in Ohio and create jobs.” (See references below to the use of jobs as a rationale for the New Green Deal.)
In the meantime, a big case is being considered at the PUCO. Go to http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=18-0501&link=DI to file a public comment in opposition to AEP. Many environmentalists and radicals have organized comment letter campaigns in support of AEP’s plan to build 500MW of wind and 400 MWs of solar. But the staff of the PUCO has testified that AEP has failed to demonstrate the added generation is needed. The Ohio Consumer’s Council and the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association have taken a similar position. Furthermore, the PUCO staff stated that “a demonstration of customer preferences that are increasingly shifting towards renewable energy is insufficient to establish a need of utility scale wind and solar investment.” AEP had tried to assert that consumers are clamoring for more renewable energy. Our observations have been that many polls do not give reliable results because the people questioned do not understand the implications of building more renewables. The Natural Resources Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council and others are working hard in support of AEP’s proposal. Opponents need to speak out. AEP hopes the PUCO board will override the staff. Hearings begin next week.
In that vein, a pro wind group in Tiffin is conducting a poll on Facebook in an effort to prove there is support for building wind turbines in Seneca County . Readers are encouraged to visit this Facebook poll and cast votes opposing industrial wind. Go to https://www.facebook.com/144370909098347/posts/1075669979301764/ .