Mark Twain once said, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” That might sum up how some members of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee view the “Reineke Referendum.” Chairman Wilson has said that the Senators “have determined they have too little time to adequately vet the language” of the referendum. This was in response to testimony from Seneca County’s Dr. Zach West who charged that “The current bill makes it abundantly clear that this body is willing to yet again place the interests of corporations and their lobbyists above the interests of the very citizens it was elected to represent.”
“Too little time” to wrap their heads around what is essentially a common practice in local zoning. Yikes! One can be opposed to the Reineke Referendum for many reasons but a failure to understand it is not a very convincing one.
Our former friends at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce have also spoken out against the Referendum. When asked why by folks from both Seneca and Champaign Counties, the stock reply from President and CEO Andy Doehrel was “We have a major concern over the timing for a referendum. If a company goes through the expense and time of finding a site, obtaining the rights to that site and then getting approval from the power siting board, which is likely thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work, how is it fair to have that denied after the investment? Obviously no company will come to Ohio under those circumstances.” Hey, anybody over at the Chamber ever hear of “risk capital”?
If the Referendum was undertaken at the beginning of a project, the developer would not be able to identify where the turbines would be located, what the ambient background noise was, whether there were protected cultural resources or endangered wildlife species….or non-participating property owners. If a referendum failed and the developer was greenlighted, the community would have lost all opportunity to negotiate and any attempt to intervene in a Power Siting Board adjudication would be meaningless. On the other hand, if the vote was taken after the planning and due diligence, the community would maintain leverage throughout the planning process. In a more equitable process, developers would be more likely to avoid openly hostile communities and places where local government resolutions in opposition to wind were adopted. All readers are invited to send their own email message to Mr. Doehrel. We think he needs to hear from more of you. email@example.com
We understand there is still considerable support for the Reineke Referendum in the House. We also understand that there is some support in the Senate but Sen. Dolan has been working hard to kill it. At this point, the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee will take the coming week to digest a slew of proposed amendments and will not reconvene until the week of July 8th. Readers are encouraged to celebrate Independence Day by continuing to contact members of the Senate with your own special message about having the liberty to vote on wind development. The new deadline for resolution of HB 6 is July 17th.