As another weeks passes, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee continues to defer hearings on SB 238 to reduce wind turbine setbacks. At the same time, in areas targeted for wind development multiple discussions are taking place with citizens and their elected representatives. It is vital that we all “sing out of the same songbook”. We must ensure our conversations with legislators and local officials are directed at ensuring any compromise language offered in the legislature reflects the following:
All setbacks must be measured from the property line without exception. It is never acceptable to measure from a habitable structure. (Current law requires property line measurement.)
Recognizing that industrial wind turbines are continuing to grow taller with longer blades, all setbacks must be measured in terms of multiples of tower height plus blade length. This ensures that as turbines become taller, setbacks will be lengthened.
The Ohio Power Siting Board must be required to define “project area.”
Waivers to legislated minimum setbacks may be waived only if 100% of adjoining non-participating property owners agree.
Current property line setback distances should be maintained as minimums.
Any reduction in existing property line setbacks must be subject to the affirmative vote of electors in the impacted township.
The grant of tax abatement through a Payment in Lieu of Taxation (PILOT) does not constitute local control. Wind developers are free to pursue development irrespective of a grant of PILOT.
Turbine manufacturers as well as independent researchers have published recommended setbacks for purposes of ensuring public safety. With respect to ice throw, GE recommends a safe distance of approximately 350 m [1,148 feet] away from the wind turbine during icing conditions. In the event of fire, a distance of 1,640 feet is recommended. Nordex also recommends a separation of 1,640’ from the turbine to a receptor to avoid noise disturbance. Setback determinations should give consideration to these and other current research.
Require all wind farm developers to publish notice in newspapers of general circulation at least 30 days prior to seeking leases or other interest in land for the purpose of constructing or operating a wind farm. The notice shall include a graphical illustration of the area where leases will be sought.
We encourage all communities to be in touch with their elected officials and use these talking points. They may be expanded or modified as appropriate for local use but they should be generally followed in order to present a uniform and consistent message from NW Ohio. It is our belief that language outlining some kind of ‘compromise’ on setbacks will be drafted by the Legislative Service Commission. It would then be discussed in the Republican Caucus and this is where our voice must be heard. Senator Dolan, who is the sponsor of SB 238, recently conveyed to a wind warrior that “My position all along has been the potential burdens of the bill are borne by the locals and the benefits of the bill are enjoyed statewide. Therefore, I want to pass a bill the modifies the burdens without jeopardizing the benefits.” Senator Dolan makes such statements without ever addressing the problems associated with measuring setbacks from habitable structures and he continuously ignores manufacturer minimum distance specifications for safety.
The brouhaha around Amazon’s search for a second headquarters location has state officials and the people of Franklin County dazzled. Of the nearly 250 cities vying to be a finalist, 20 were chosen and Columbus made the short list. A very interesting article is included below that speaks to the advantages of Columbus. “Amazon has one of only two of its Direct Connect sites for the eastern United States at the Cologix Inc. data center in far northern Columbus. The service allows a dedicated connection to the AWS cloud from client premises, as opposed to accessing it from the open internet.” In addition, the Cologix site sits at one of the major crossroads for trunk lines of broadband fiber optic cable. This is important as it gives Amazon a choice of fiber optic routes and “ensures connectivity remains if there’s an outage on one trunk line.” In other words, Columbus has a lot going for it. But what is the big drawback that puts Ohio and Columbus at risk of losing out? You guessed it….wind turbine setbacks and efforts to repeal renewable mandates! “ This is ridiculous because any Ohio company can source as much renewable energy as they want – today.
The Akron Beacon Journal came out with an editorial making the case that Ohioans want renewable energy and are willing to pay extra for it as a result of a “poll” published by the Conservative Energy Forum. The poll is quite misleading. Fortunately, the Washington [D.C.] Examiner blows CEF apart and reports “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, which appears to be little more than a front group for purveyors of wind and solar power, who will stop at nothing to keep their industry from having to stand on its own two feet. And that includes presenting themselves as conservative when, in fact, they are garden-variety hustlers looking for a handout.” That “handout” includes inadequate setbacks measured from homes not property lines.
Please stay in touch with your local State Rep. and State Senator. They need to hear from you regularly and letters to the Editor should regularly appear in your local paper. Thanks to all for your great efforts. They are making a difference!