Local Chamber Leaders, Economic Development Officials Urge Ohio Policymakers to Return Wind Farm Decisions to Communities

November 19, 2015

New Public Statement Cites Economic Development Benefits of Wind Energy

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Nov. 18, 2015—Ohio local chamber of commerce presidents, economic development officials, school superintendents, county commissioners, and landowners today urged the Ohio House of Representatives Public Utilities Commission to return decisions about wind farms to local communities.

In addition to issuing the statement, leaders gathered at the Ohio Statehouse to testify before the House Public Utilities Committee in support of House Bill 190, co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Brown (R-Bowling Green) and Rep. Tony Burkley (R-Payne).

Through their testimony and in their joint statement below, business and community leaders said they supported HB 190 because it would grant counties more local control and flexibility in choosing which “setback” provisions to apply to wind projects. Setback provisions—which determine how far a wind farm must be situated from the nearest property line—became controversial after the Ohio legislature tripled the required distance in 2014, leading to a significant slowdown in wind development.

To date, more than $775 million has been invested in Ohio’s wind industry, with annual property tax payments of $3.6 million, and annual land lease payments of more than $2.5 million.

The statement of support for HB 190 by chamber and other leaders read:

 “As local chamber of commerce leaders, economic development officials, school superintendents, elected representatives, and business people, our job is to stand up for what is good for our communities.

 We have seen wind energy deliver extraordinary economic benefits to several Ohio communities. We know more communities could benefit from wind energy.

 But wind farm development has largely come to a halt since the legislature last year nearly tripled the distance required between wind farms and neighboring property lines. We find these restrictions unwarranted, and economically disadvantageous.

 We call on Ohio policymakers to ensure that counties that want wind farms will be able to have them—by opting to reinstate the old setback requirements.”

The statement was signed by:  

Susan Munroe, President and CEO, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce

Peggy Emerson, President & CEO, Paulding Chamber of Commerce

Pam Miller, Executive Director, Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce

Tony Zartman, Paulding County Commissioner

Roy Klopfenstein, Paulding County Commissioner

Dennis Schroeder, Van Buren Township Trustee (Putnam County)

Ron Wyss, former Hardin County Commissioner

Clair Thatcher, Land Owner, Middle Point Ohio

Bob Barker, Land Owner, Van Wert County

Curt Croy, Director, Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation

Jerry Zielke, Director, Paulding County Economic Development

Jeff Snyder, Superintendent, Lincolnview Schools, Van Wert County

Staci Kaufman, Superintendent, Vantage Career Centers, Eight County Area

Ken Amstutz, Superintendent, Van Wert City Schools

Individual chamber leaders also made these comments:

  • “Northwest Ohio has an enormous economic opportunity. We can catalyze our advanced manufacturing skills and supply chains with dramatic demand for clean energy—if our state government works with business leaders to provide a business-friendly environment for renewables.” (Peggy Emerson, President & CEO, Paulding Chamber of Commerce)
  • “The biggest employers in the world are now requiring clean energy as they make their location and expansion decisions. Returning local decision making of renewable energy development will play a major role in whether communities throughout Ohio will be able to attract the big buyers that demand clean energy. We in Putnam County would very much like to be known as “home” to the wind farm supplying energy to the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.” (Curt Croy, Director, Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation)
  • “I’ve talked to farmers who are extremely grateful for the cash crop of wind energy. I’ve seen children using laptops in schools and hotels sold out because of wind energy. The $600 million Blue Creek Wind Farms in Van Wert pays $2 million annually in local taxes and nearly as much in landowner lease payments, with schools being the primary beneficiary of the local tax revenue.” (Susan Munroe, President & CEO, Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Council member of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy)
  • “In some communities, setting wind farms more than four football fields away from the nearest property line might make sense. But in many others, it is clearly too much. We urge Ohio policymakers to leave these decisions to local decision-makers. (The Honorable John Love, Putnam County Commissioner)
  • “Wind energy has reduced tax burdens; increased school revenues; grown profits for local businesses; created new high paying jobs; and brought hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue to rural communities. We should not stand in the way of this kind of progress.” (Jerry Zielke, Director, Paulding County Economic Development)
  • “Wind farms have generated approximately $410,000 in new revenue a year for our district—a Godsend to our schools and our taxpayers. Wind energy has expanded our local tax base in a way we never imagined possible, while providing tax relief to our residents and opportunities for our students.” (Jeff Snyder, Superintendent of Lincolnview Schools)