Wind turbine rule change gets nod from Ohio Senate, Cuyahoga request for 20-year renewable power purchase agreement rejected
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The wind turbine industry’s efforts to regain expansion in Ohio got a boost Tuesday with the inclusion of new rules governing how close a turbine can be to adjacent properties.
But a request on behalf of Cuyahoga County to allow it to sign 20-year power purchase agreements for wind and solar power was rejected by the GOP-dominated committee.
The new turbine setback rules would replace restrictive language that appeared anonymously in the 2014 budget bill, nearly tripling the distance a turbine could be erected from adjacent properties not participating in a wind development.
The 2014 provision immediately halted further wind development in Ohio’s northwestern counties.
Requested by Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, representing 11 counties with the best wind in Ohio, the amendment in this year’s budget bill would determine minimum setbacks according to the size of the turbine. Hite submitted his proposal last week.
“I am pleased that a compromise has been reached that protects the property rights of all involved,” said Hite after his proposed change appeared in the eight pages of amendments.
The amendment must still survive conference committee negotiations between the Ohio House and Senate before the budget bill is approved and sent to the governor’s office.
The Senate Finance Committee’s refusal to allow Cuyahoga County to extend its power purchase agreement beyond 10 years won’t stop the project, said Mike Foley, the county’s director of sustainability.
But it will impact the financing.
The county wanted the longer agreement in order to save money, but state law limits all counties to 10-year agreements.
The county has signed a 10-year power purchase agreement with Cleveland Public Power for electricity from the Icebreaker wind turbine project in Lake Erie. And it intends to sign a 10-year purchase agreement with Cleveland Urban Renewable Power for a very large solar farm planned for a landfill in Brooklyn.
“We are going to finance the solar project using a pre-paid power purchase agreement for 10 years for $7.8 million for electricity from the solar panels,” said Foley.
The 10-year agreement will make the cost of the electricity appear to be 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, he said, whereas the 20-year cost will be 8 or 9 cents per kilowatt-hour.
The 4-million watt solar array will be constructed with 30,000 solar panels, made by First Solar of Perrysburg, Ohio, near Toledo. Panels customarily are guaranteed 25 years. The racking system holding the panels is being manufactured in Cincinnati.
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