Access to renewable energy needs to be a part of Ohio’s portfolio when it comes to job creation.
There’s too much to lose if it doesn’t happen.
That is one of the things that become clear in the state’s efforts to lure Amazon’s second headquarters, called HQ2, and its 50,000 jobs to Columbus.
Amazon is one of the first corporations to publicly commit to powering its operations with 100 percent renewable energy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Fortunately, Ohio’s current wind farms can make that happen, thus Columbus is on the short list of Amazon’s 20 potential sites.
But it ends there.
Ohio is not able to make the same promise to any of the 119 other companies which are following Amazon’s footsteps with similar requirements.
At issue is Ohio’s setback rule for wind turbines, which companies call too restrictive, but rural farm owners praise.
It requires any new wind turbines to be set back at least a quarter-mile from the nearest property line. The rule was negotiated three years ago by opponents of wind farms. For them, it’s a matter of saving the value of their property. They look at the miles of white turbines that have surrounded homes in the Van Wert/Paulding area and fear their property could be swallowed next by turbines that measure nearly 500 feet in height and are five times taller than any farm silo or building in nearby Lima or Fort Wayne.
Their ability to negotiate the setback already has its costly consequences.
Large wind farms like those in Van Wert and Paulding counties can bring big payouts. Not only do they generate enough electricity to power 70,000 homes, but they also create hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed investment and long-term payments to local schools, counties and townships.
Those gifts have been removed from the table in Ohio.
Developers are bypassing the Buckeye state because of the setback rule. One company has five projects on the drawing board that it says won’t move forward until the state rolls back its restrictions, according to Bloomberg.
Unless the state legislature can mitigate the restrictive setback regulations, the future of wind energy in Ohio looks bleak.