Ohio House Drops Setback Compromise
Not long after Ohio Senate lawmakers advanced a compromise measure on the state’s harsh wind setback rule, the Ohio House of Representatives has insisted upon removing it from the state’s proposed biennial budget, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has revealed.
Adopted in 2014 with no public debate, Ohio’s current wind turbine setbacks are among the country’s most restrictive and have essentially functioned as a ban on wind development and the economic benefits that come along with it, AWEA explains.
“It’s hard to understand why the Ohio House, under the leadership of Speaker Rosenberger, would stand in the way of $4.2 billion of economic development,” states Andrew Gohn, eastern region policy director for AWEA. “House lawmakers turned their backs on Ohio’s businesses and rural communities with this decision. They turned away economic growth by ignoring the business community’s plea to make Ohio attractive for companies wishing to power their facilities with renewable energy. And they ignored the needs of the state’s rural communities, who would have seen enormous investment if setbacks had been fixed.”
According to AWEA, besides bringing new resources into rural communities that could improve schools and fix roads, new wind development would have also attracted new business into Ohio. The business community rallied behind the setback fix, which also received vocal support from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Partnership, the Columbus and Toledo Chambers of Commerce, Amazon, and several other Fortune 500 companies, AWEA points out.
By including a fix in its proposed budget, the Ohio Senate prioritized attracting billions of dollars in investment and recognized that the onerous setbacks have pushed wind development into neighboring states, the group says.
“We appreciate the strong leadership shown by Senator Cliff Hite, Senate President Larry Obhof and the Senate leadership team who championed this vital regulatory reform,” adds Gohn. “With their support in continuing the fight, as well as support from Governor Kasich, we’re confident that common sense will soon prevail and that Ohio will grow more prosperous by unlocking the vast potential of wind power.”
Wind Moratorium Awaits Fate In North Carolina
A North Carolina bill seeking a moratorium on new wind farm permits through 2018 due to military concerns is awaiting a final decision from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a last-minute amendment to H.589, a wide-ranging energy bill, will stop North Carolina from harvesting more homegrown wind power.
If passed, neither the Department of Environmental Quality nor the Coastal Resources Commission would be able to issue a permit for a new wind project or wind project expansion until Dec. 31, 2018. The bill says the moratorium would “allow the General Assembly ample time to study the extent and scope of military operations in the state … and to consider the impact of future wind energy facilities and energy infrastructure on military operations, training and readiness.”
Notably, AWEA points out that there is already an existing Department of Defense process to evaluate and, if necessary, block wind farms. That process was strengthened in the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act.
“We’re calling on Governor Cooper to veto this bill due to the unnecessary, anti-business regulation slipped in at the final moment. If the bill stands, it will cast a shadow on North Carolina, a state currently on the leading edge of wind energy development in the Southeast,” states Andrew Gohn, eastern region policy director for AWEA. “North Carolina had just made a big step forward completing its first major wind energy project, one of the very first in the Southeast, bringing jobs and millions in private investment with it. Other North Carolina wind projects are close behind, but this moratorium will send their investment to other states who welcome economic growth.”
North Carolina recently became the 41st state to host a utility-scale wind project. Though wind development is just getting started in North Carolina, the industry already employs close to 2,000 Americans in the state, including at 26 active factories, according to AWEA.
“Over 53,000 wind turbines are in operation in 40 other U.S. states – some in close proximity to military bases – with no issues reported, no base missions harmed and national security protected,” continues Gohn. “The current Department of Defense wind project review process works. As a result, no wind project has ever been built over the objection of the Department of Defense.”
He adds, “The wind industry supports American servicemen and servicewomen at home and abroad. In fact, the wind industry employs veterans at a rate 50 percent higher than the national average. Unfortunately, passing laws like this one hurts, rather than helps, our national security and energy independence.”
Another City Makes 100% Renewables Commitment
The Edmonds, Wash., City Council has approved a resolution establishing a community-wide goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2025. According to the Sierra Club, Edmonds represents the first city or town in Washington state to commit to 100% renewable energy and the 37th city in the U.S. to make such a commitment.
The Sierra Club says Edmonds receives power from the Snohomish Public Utility District, which gets most of its power from Bonneville Power Administration’s hydro-heavy mix. In 2015, approximately 10% of that energy came from nuclear sources, with a small amount of coal and natural gas (less than 2%) likely included, adds the Sierra Club.
Edmonds Councilman Mike Nelson, who amended the resolution to make the 100% clean energy commitment, says, “The majority of harmful greenhouse-gas emissions come from cities, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you are a small city, like Edmonds, or a large city, the infrastructure is in place to shift to clean, renewable energy. We hope every city in our state joins us and flips the switch to renewable energy.”
Victoria Leistman, associate organizer for the Sierra Club, comments, “With the federal government working against our clean energy future, leadership on climate action is going to have to come from cities and states.”
Edmonds’ 100% renewables commitment comes just days after the U.S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution that establishes support from the nation’s mayors for the goal of moving to 100% clean and renewable energy in cities nationwide.