When Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite (R) knocked on the door of one of his constituents asking what he thought of neighboring wind turbines that had recently been constructed in his neighborhood, the man said: “They’re money for my county, and they’re progress.”
That was more than a decade ago. And ever since, that opinion has been growing in Sen. Hite’s district in Northwest Ohio—fueled by the leadership of local chambers of commerce and economic development leaders who have witnessed the economic benefits to their communities.
During a recent briefing call for local chambers moderated by Susan Munroe, the President and CEO of the Van Wert Area Chamber said her county has attracted approximately $1.2 billion in wind investments, along with $2 million a year in new revenue for schools, high-paying jobs, and a new stream of income for area farmers.
But in 2014, the Ohio Legislature passed legislation freezing the state’s renewable energy standards and tripling the distance new wind turbines must be constructed from a neighboring property line—effectively bringing wind development to a halt.
Sen. Hite said Senate budget hearings, expected later this month, are an opportunity to fix that, explaining: “There is now, a proposal to establish a reasonable distance that would be a “wind-win” for everyone.”
Hite encouraged local chamber and economic development leaders to share with their legislators how wind is benefiting their communities and the importance of maintaining this kind of growth in the state. He also talked about a growing number of large corporations that are demanding renewable energy to power their operations.
“Bottom line, chambers know this better than anyone: If we want to attract major corporations to do business here, we have to be open for business,” he said, adding that it’s important to have the right policies in place to ensure these large companies are bringing their business to Ohio and not other states.
Wind development, Hite added, can help all Ohioans. “I have farmers in my district saying: I’m growing corn, raising beans and I’m harvesting wind, and I’m proud of it,” he said. “There is room for everyone who cares about making Ohio a better place.”
Munroe will lead another capitol visit with her local chamber colleagues and economic development officials to share their stories of how wind has positively impacted their communities. If you are interested in joining the visit, please contact her at Susan@vanwertchamber.com.