AWEA urges Ohio setback veto

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is urging Ohio Governor John Kasich to use his line item veto to strike a tougher turbine setback provision from a bill, saying it could seriously hurt the state’s promising wind industry.

The General Assembly in House Bill (HB) 483 is proposing to extend the setback requirement from 925 feet (282 meters) to a minimum 1,300 feet from inhabited residential structures. AWEA claims the new requirements would be among the strictest in the US.

The bill revises those requirements to apply to a turbine’s distance from property lines, not just homes, making it impossible to cost-effectively site any further wind farms in Ohio, according to AWEA.

“This would kill further wind energy development in Ohio unless the governor vetoes it,” says Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy at AWEA.

Wind projects now under development in Ohio represent $2.5bn investment. If fully developed, they could provide $220m in local tax payments and $180m to landowners over the projects’ lifetimes, the industry group estimates.

AWEA says the setback provision was adopted by the legislature only after public testimony on the bill ended. This meant that wind developers, the Ohio Power Siting Board and AWEA were unable to provide testimony or technical data on the setback provisions and the potential resulting impacts,

Gramlich notes that setback requirements were updated last year. A line item veto would give the industry the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialogue about wind energy development in Ohio.

Kasich, a Republican, last month said he will sign into law a bill that will impose a two-year freeze the state’s renewable portfolio standard at its present level.