Wind energy experts are pushing back against a change made to the House energy bill. A provision from House Republicans allows municipalities to let residents vote on wind farm projects. Opponents of the change said this will dramatically impact the wind industry.
The referendum provision reflected ongoing local battles among landowners who do and don’t want wind turbines in northwest Ohio.
Dayna Baird with the American Wind Energy Association said developers already spend years and millions of dollars to get state regulators’ approval.
“How many would make the decision to pursue that expenditure of time and financial resources knowing that the certificate that the state gives you when you’ve met all the requirements could easily be overturned.”
Baird said the process already allows county commissioners to reject a project.
A few residents testified in committee that they want the ability to make the decision among themselves.
Environmental advocates add that this creates an unfair process for wind energy compared to other energy sources. As Trish Demeter with the Ohio Environmental Council’s Action Fund noted, municipalities do not have the opportunity to hold a referendum on other facets such as transmission lines, fracking wastewater injection wells, or oil and gas drilling.