COLUMBUS – A key legislative supporter of a new state wind turbine setback law has abruptly shifted gears and is now advocating that Ohio maintain the existing rules on setbacks.
State Rep. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, released a lengthy statement Wednesday regarding the debate in Ohio on wind turbine setbacks.
The state representative said that after taking several months to research the wind turbine setback issue and listening to constituents, he had come to the conclusion that no changes should be made to Ohio’s current wind turbine setbacks.
He encouraged the use of “good neighbor” waivers with landowners in the project footprint of wind development.
“Current law provides sufficient protection for the health, safety, and welfare of the district but also allows for the free market to work. If a wind developer and an affected neighboring landowner can come to an agreement, which results in a waiver being signed, then that is all that should be required,” Reineke said in the statement.
He said he appreciated that wind development has been a contentious issue for those in favor of and opposed to the proposed setback requirements.
APEX Clear Energy wants to install roughly 80 turbines in Seneca and Sandusky counties combined, with structure heights ranging from 442 to 591 feet, said company spokesperson Natasha Montague.
Seneca Wind is a proposed 200 megawatt wind farm in Seneca County’s Scipio, Reed, Venice, Eden and Bloom townships that would consist of up to 82 wind turbines and be built on approximately 25,000 acres of privately leased land.
State law passed in 2014 calls for wind turbines on commercial wind farms to be at least 1,125 feet from the tip of the turbine blade at ninety degrees to the nearest adjacent property line, unless the applicant obtains waivers.
Reineke held a press conference in Columbus in April with Seneca County Commissioner Holly Stacy and several local officials to urge support for Senate Bill 238, introduced by Sen. Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls.
SB 238 is similar to sub HB 114, which still sits in the Ohio Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee and was discussed Wednesday by committee members in Columbus.
Seneca County Commissioner Mike Kerschner submitted testimony to the committee and asked senators to put a higher priority on the concerns of people in the footprint of the proposed wind projects.
Kerschner asked senators to, at a minimum, retain the current property line setbacks and consider giving people inside project footprints the opportunity to vote on what the proper distance from homes would be for wind turbines.
The Senate bill would require turbines to be at least 1,225 feet from the tip of the nearest blade to the exterior of the nearest habitable home, rather than from the property line.
Under Dolan’s bill, the minimum distance to the property line would be defined as 1.2 times the total height of the wind turbine and its blade.
Deb Hay, a Thompson Township resident and member of the Seneca Anti-Wind Union, said a hotly contested provision in sub HB 114 would reduce setbacks to 1.2 times the length of the turbine to the property line and would measure the setback 1,250 feet from homes rather than the property line.
“This is a property rights issue and the wind industry appears to be having difficulty obtaining setback waivers from landowners. Because they cannot obtain setback waivers voluntarily, they want the legislature to take the property by moving industrial wind turbine setbacks from the property line to the foundation of our homes,” Hay said.
Hay said the Seneca County group appreciated that Reineke and Sen. David Burke, R-Marysville, stand with property owners in the the district to protect private property rights.
Montague could not be reached Thursday for comment on Reineke’s announcement.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding