Bill limiting wind farms draws support

Larry Limpf

More than 150 persons have submitted testimony in favor of a bill pending in the state legislature that would give local governments more authority to determine where wind farms can be located.
The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently held its second hearing on House Bill 401, which makes Ohio Power Siting Board decisions on the construction of wind turbines subject to local referendum.
The bill is sponsored by Bill Reineke, R - Tiffin. In his testimony, he told the committee local residents are at a disadvantage once the process for a wind turbine starts with the siting board.
“Many times, constituents remain unaware of these projects’ very existence making it even more difficult to make their opinions known. Via this legislation, a referendum would give more local control to our townships and allow the residents, themselves, to decide what is and is not a good fit for their areas. HB 401 would make it so that any certificate or amendment to an existing certificate, for a wind development project issued by the OPSB would only become effective after 90 days. During this 90-day interim, the local electorate in the township(s) that the project encompasses would have the ability to file a petition for a referendum with the local board of elections,” he said.
He told the committee the concerns expressed by his constituents about wind projects have been “overwhelming,” ranging from loss of property values to safety issues.
“It has not been lost on either my constituents or myself that the main supporters for these projects and for wind energy development in general, seem to come from major metropolitan areas, or from out of state. It’s easy for people in Columbus, Cleveland, or Cincinnati, places that will never see a turbine within their populated areas, to promote and push for more wind development in Ohio,” Reineke told the committee.
Under the bill, the siting board’s certificate or amendment is invalid if it is rejected in every affected township. In the event not all of the townships with voters on the referendum reject the certificate or amendment, the bill requires the board to modify the certificate or amendment to exclude the area of the townships whose electors rejected them.
A companion bill has been introduced in the senate by Rob McColley (R-Napoleon).


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