From a Columbus suburb (home to a new wind-powered Amazon data center) to the small village of Paulding (where a new wind farm will begin generating electricity in 2017) local chamber leaders trekked to Ohio’s capitol this month to tell Gov. Kasich and lawmakers how their communities have benefited from wind energy.
“For businesses, school districts, and taxpayers in rural communities like ours, wind power is an absolute blessing,” said Peggy Emerson, Executive Director of the Paulding Chamber of Commerce.
“Wind energy has been one of the biggest investments in Ohio and has the potential to contribute much more to Ohio’s future economic prosperity,” said Susan Munroe, President and CEO of the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce. “We want to work with legislators to encourage further investment and job growth created with wind energy development.”
To date, wind energy has resulted in investments of more than $775 million in Ohio. This new “cash crop” delivers significant tax benefits to schools and other institutions, income to landowners and local supply chain businesses while supporting county services in communities able to host these wind farms.
This was the second visit by local chamber leaders to the state’s capitol in the past year. In a related trend, a growing number of businesses have encouraged lawmakers to establish reasonable “setback” provisions, which determine how far a wind turbine must be situated from the nearest property line.
In 2014, the Ohio legislature tripled the required distance for turbines — resulting in a near moratorium on wind farm development and investment. Meanwhile, corporations such as Amazon have announced increased demand for wind energy to power data centers in the state. And the Toledo-based Owens Corning in 2015 signed the largest wind power purchase agreement by an industrial company in the world—but had to source wind energy from Texas.
Amazon Wireless Services, Panasonic, Apex Clean Energy, First Solar, and other businesses also sent a letter to Gov. Kasich this month encouraging more reasonable rules.
The local chamber leaders took a more personal approach, sharing their stories in meetings with the Governor’s Office; Speaker Cliff Rosenberger’s Office, a half-dozen representatives, including Rep. Shaffer, Chair of the House Public Utilities Commission; and Senators Cliff Hite and Jay Hottinger.
Pictured above from left to right: Susan Munroe, President & CEO, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce; Former Ohio Rep. Jim Hoops; Eric Germann, President, Lincolnview Schools; Peggy Emerson, Executive Director, Paulding Chamber of Commerce; Brian Dicken, VP of Advocacy & Public Policy, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.