Senator, Chamber CEOs Agree: Wind Development Benefits Rural Communities

Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay) recently introduced critical legislation to fix Ohio's wind turbine setback laws that are preventing renewable energy jobs and economic development. 

“The current policy is contrary to Ohio’s reputation as a business-friendly environment and an energy-producing state,” Sen. Hite said at the Hog Creek Wind Farm construction project in Ada, Ohio. “It prevents businesses with an interest in gaining access to and investing in wind energy in Ohio from doing so.”

Ohio currently has the most restrictive wind setback provisions in the Midwest—despite enormous wind energy potential in the northwest and statewide opportunities in manufacturing wind turbine components. This is the result of legislation passed in 2014 that tripled the distance wind turbines must be from neighboring property lines and effectively brought development to a halt.

“This bill,” said Sen. Hite, “strikes the proper balance, protecting the rights of both participating and non-participating landowners and will allow responsible wind development to move forward.”

The new legislation would return the property line setback to a distance of 1.2 times the height of the turbine, which is still longer than the previous setback. It also increases the minimum setback from a home to approximately 1400 feet.

Rural chamber leaders cite benefits. Hardin County, home to the Hog Creek Wind Farm, is one of the of rural Ohio communities in a position to benefit from wind development.

“With almost $600,000 in annual payments to the county, schools and other public services, [this] wind farm is a massive infusion of new dollars into our community,” Jon Cross, President and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, said at today’s news conference.

But Hardin County is not the only one to have benefited from wind development that began before the more restrictive setbacks took effect. Cross also noted how his community has watched neighboring counties such as Paulding and Van Wert reap the benefits of wind farms for years and seen major improvements they’ve made to their schools and county infrastructure.

“Those of us with wind farms in our communities have seen firsthand what a positive difference these investments make for our businesses, schools, landowners and entire tax base,” said Susan Munroe, CEO and President of the Van Wert Area Chamber. “Just in Van Wert County alone, our wind farm is the largest single tax payer.

“That’s why I, along with other Northwest Ohio chamber and economic development directors, urge the House of Representatives to support this commonsense legislation,” Munroe added. “And I invite any Ohio House member to visit our wind farm in Van Wert, the largest in the state of Ohio.”  

According to a recent report from the American Wind Energy Association, restoring reasonable wind setback provisions will enable local communities, and the state, to attract jobs and investments that could reach an estimated $4.2 billion.

See video of Hog Creek Wind Farm Press Conference.

Pictured above left to right: Jon Cross, President & CEO, Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance; Kenny Williams, Kent Williams Drainage; Senator Cliff Hite; Amy Kurt, Project Manager, EDP Renewables.