Against the backdrop of wind-farm construction in Hardin County, state Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, sought to build support for his proposal that would allow more wind turbines to be built in upcoming projects.
“I think we can make this happen,” he said during the event Thursday. “The groundswell of support is increasing as we speak.”
Senate Bill 188 would partially undo changes that lawmakers made in 2013 addressing where turbines can be built. The bill deals will the minimum distance required between a turbine and property lines and houses.
Hite spoke at a news conference at Hog Creek Wind Farm, a project being built near Dunkirk, in northwestern Ohio. The developer, EDP Renewables, already operates three wind farms in the state.
Before 2013, turbines could be built within about 550 feet of a property line, a figure based on the height of the tower and blade. Then, four years ago, lawmakers made an amendment to an unrelated measure that increased the distance to about 1,300 feet. Ever since, wind-industry groups and others have pushed for a reversal of the change.
Hite, whose district includes several wind farms, tried to make the changes earlier this year through an amendment to the state budget. The provision was removed at the last minute, and critics said the topic should be debated on its own.
Supporters of Hite’s bill, including the American Wind Energy Association, say the changes will lead to $4.2 billion worth of investment that is now bottled up because some projects are not economically viable with current rules.
Opponents, including some people who live among the wind farms, say the distances are a safety issue and they find wind turbines are ugly and noisy.
Hite already has the support of 14 co-sponsors and is confident that his bill will pass the Senate.
The question is whether it will get much of a hearing in the House, where Majority Leader Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, is a critic of many aspects of wind energy.
“With the bill just being introduced, members have not yet had an opportunity to review the language,” said Brad Miller, spokesman for House Republicans. “However, the speaker and Senate president have, and will continue to have, discussions on this important issue, and House Republicans will thoroughly review the legislation should it ultimately pass the Senate.”
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