Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature today abandoned $2.5 billion in current wind energy projects, according to a statement released by the American Windpower Energy Association. The projects now face cancellation along with jobs, leases, payments to local governments, and orders for factories, over a "needlessly restrictive" setback requirement that Kasich signed into law today, AWEA said.
Kasich this afternoon signed the state’s budget, House Bill 483, without vetoing a last-minute insertion that requires wind turbines to be at least 1300 feet from the nearest property line instead of the nearest house. Just last Friday, Ohio became the first state to slow down its clean energy progress with Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 310, which freezes the state’s renewable electricity standard for two years.
“Gov. Kasich has walked away from his commitment to renewable energy. He and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”
AWEA maintains that the American wind industry has generated major economic benefits for Ohio, which ranks first in the nation for the number of wind energy manufacturing facilities with more than 60 in the state. "Yet there was no opportunity for the regulators at the Ohio Power Siting Board, nor a single wind company operating or developing in Ohio, to comment or provide testimony on this matter during its short one-week consideration in the General Assembly," according to AWEA.
Ohio had already required that wind turbines be located at least 1,300 feet from the nearest inhabited residence. The change to the nearest property line was added to the state budget bill only after all public debate had already ended. Developers say it will make it impossible to proceed with $2.5 billion worth of projects currently under development, and billions of dollars more that were in the planning stages until today. If fully developed, the current projects could have provided approximately $220 million in local tax payments and $180 million worth of leases to landowners over the projects' lifetimes. With stable policies, those numbers could have steadily grown in the coming years, AWEA believes.