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New rules jeopardize wind farm plans

By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

LEIPSIC — A proposed wind turbine farm near Leipsic is being reconsidered after the state Legislature passed bills that make it more difficult for companies to build in the state, according to wind industry leaders.

Previous state rules required wind turbines to have a setback of 1,125 feet from the outer wall of the “nearest, habitable residential structure.” The legislation changed the setback to 1,125 feet from the nearest property line.

The Putnam County proposal by Iberdrola Renewables, a Spain-based company with U.S. headquarters in Oregon, would include property in Van Buren and Blanchard townships in the northeastern portion of the county. It would include 75 wind turbines to generate 150 megawatts of electricity.

Under the new rules, there would be only three wind turbines.

“There is no question that any future wind development in Ohio just got much more difficult because of new excessive wind turbine setback requirements,” Paul Copleman, with Iberdrola Renewables, said via email. “But we are still evaluating how to proceed with our Leipsic wind farm development efforts; it’s premature to say that they are “on hold.”

Tom Kieman, chief executive officer of American Wind Energy Association, the national trade association for the wind energy industry, said Gov. John Kasich’s signature on the legislation shows “he and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio. Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.

“The American wind industry has generated major economic benefits for Ohio, which ranks first in the nation for the number of wind energy manufacturing facilities with more than 60 in the state,” he said. “Yet there was no opportunity for the regulators at the Ohio Power Siting Board, nor a single wind company operating or developing in Ohio, to comment or provide testimony on this matter during its short one-week consideration in the General Assembly.”

The setback change “will make it impossible to proceed with $2.5 billion worth of projects currently under development, and billions of dollars more that were in the planning stages,” Kieman said.

“This isn’t right and it isn’t fair to Ohio taxpayers and companies that now stand to lose millions of dollars they have already invested into trying to do business in Ohio,” Kieman said.

American Wind Energy Association: http://www.awea.org

Maurer: 419-427-8420
Send an E-mail to Jim Maurer

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