Library filed under Energy Policy from Ohio
All the hand-wringing and fighting between area township officials and residents over wind turbine zoning, including a recent discussion about a moratorium, may well have been an exercise in futility if an amendment attached to the Legislature's annual spending bill gets expected approval in coming days. The amendment, which was introduced by Cincinnati area State Sen. Bill Seitz, would turn responsibility for guiding any wind farm development to the Ohio Power Siting Board, which currently only oversees developments that exceed 50 megawatt generation capacity. It would lower the minimum to 5 megawatts ...
The debate continues on the U.S. side of Lake Erie over what the new energy mix should look like. In Canada, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's administration has shown a strong preference for hydroelectric power and wind power. ...But Gail Krantzberg, a former Canadian chair of the International Joint Commission who's now director of McMaster University's Center for Engineering and Public Policy, said the McGuinty administration may have to buy dirty energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the Ohio Valley if it can't find enough viable ways to make up the difference. Wind, by its nature, can only be a supplemental source of power because it takes steady breezes to spin the turbine blades.
Gov. Ted Strickland next week is expected to sign a compromise electric energy bill that backers say will protect consumers, create jobs and expand the use of renewable energy sources such as solar power. ...While nobody predicted the legislation would lower electric bills, a key goal is to prevent big price spikes that have occurred in other states that deregulated the electric energy market as Ohio did in 1999. ...The bill also requires that 25 percent of Ohio's electricity be generated from alternative energy sources by 2025 and creates an energy efficiency standard that requires utilities to meet a cumulative 22 percent standard by reducing usage.
After months of talk, hours of committee testimony, more than 20 rewrites and untold thousands of dollars spent on a truckload of lobbyists, the House voted 93-1 for Senate Bill 221. The Senate is expected to concur today. "This bill gives the maximum amount of protection to make sure that energy prices moving forward will remain stable," said House Speaker Jon Husted, R-Kettering. Strickland said it would be unrealistic to assume that prices won't increase in "very moderate ways." ...The bill also contains key green-energy provisions, requiring that at least 25 percent of electricity generation in Ohio come from renewable or advanced energy sources by 2025
What began with an attempt to work out a compromise electricity regulation bill with Gov. Ted Strickland instead ended with Democrats walking out of House Public Utilities Committee in protest during the wee hours of the morning. The action drew a sharp contrast to the bipartisanship that has permeated the Statehouse for more than a year. ...Environmental advocates said they were pleased with the bill, which includes benchmarks to ensure that utilities produce at least 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. However, advocates were disappointed by an amendment that lets the PUCO reduce energy efficiency benchmarks if they can't be achieved for regulator, economic or technological reasons. "We're hoping this is an insurance policy that will never be executed," said Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council.
Union Neighbors United wants to influence local politicians to focus on zoning regulations for alternative energy sources. Julie Johnson, a member of the group, stressed that they are in favor of alternative energy in general. Members even attended the recent seminar hosted by individuals from C.A.R.E., she said. Johnson said the group simply want local officials to be careful when creating zoning regulations for alternative energy sources. Zoning has been the focus of the group, she said. Organizers in Union Neighbors United were able to place a referendum on November's ballot challenging the townships's zoning regulations. C.A.R.E. and Union Neighbors United plan to continue focusing attention on their issues as similar proposals move forward in the county.
The truth, never denied but certainly understated, is that power from renewable sources probably will cost more, not less. Still, the environmental and health costs posed by conventional generating fuels could drop as renew- able-energy production rises. ...The bill creates an Ohio Renewable Energy Authority, guaranteed $102.5 million in public money through mid-2018, possibly much more, through a complicated formula. The agency could spend up to 6 percent of its cash for "administrative purposes." That's a lot of paper clips. The measure would also exempt Renewable Energy Authority money from the General Assembly's budgeting power, removing a crucial Columbus check and balance. Husted said he'd be OK with subjecting the authority to General Assembly budgeting. That's a good start - but just that.
So maybe, some local officials say, before the towering turbines consume Ohio's landscape, guidelines will be established to help decide where they should go. "It feels like we've been down this road before," said Morrow County Commissioner Richard Miller. His board recently approved zoning guidelines for wind turbines, which can be up to 400 feet tall. He said Morrow County planners researched regulations in other states to come up with a blueprint. Miller likened the growing debate over placement of the turbines to the cellular-tower issues in the late 1980s and early '90s. Then, local officials across Ohio found themselves in the middle of disputes between property owners and wondering what they could do to control where the cell towers could go, he said. Some disputes ended up in court. Miller said windmills should be handled differently.
Gov. Ted Strickland is willing to set yearly goals for the use of renewable power sources but he wants to give utilities more time to ease into compliance than lawmakers proposed, his office said Friday. The Democratic governor responded to changes Ohio House Republicans want to make to his sweeping energy plan. He agrees with the House's plan to set strict deadlines for utilities on using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. But Strickland wants the benchmarks to begin in 2015, instead of next year as the House plan specifies.
Wind-energy companies have set their sights on Ohio's high ground, so Morrow County commissioners are trying to stay ahead of the game by working out regulations for wind farms before a major controversy blows into town. As more townships and counties consider possible wind-energy developments, state legislators might have to take up the matter in the interest of consistent statewide rules. Officials in Logan and Champaign counties proposed wind-farm rules only after developers had proposed deals to local landowners, and would-be sellers and unhappy neighbors had formed opposing camps. The new rules quickly were challenged by a referendum petition in Logan County by opponents who don't think the rules are restrictive enough. The referendum was ruled off Tuesday's ballot because of a procedural error, but the acrimony isn't likely to fade.
An issue that has been drawing controversy - the development of wind energy in Logan County - will not be decided by voters in Tuesday's election. ...Reames said calling them "farms" is deceptive. "We're not farming anything here," she said. "When you're talking about a 400- or 500-foot machine, you're talking industry." Among opponents' concerns, she said, is safety and allowing the community to have input, which she said they do not have. "These are not even a safe distance from home," she said. "Wind turbine accidents happen around the world."
Husted and top GOP House leaders were planning to unveil new legislation today that rewrites -- and beefs up -- renewable energy provisions in the governor's comprehensive utility regulation bill, pending since last fall. The new bill will be sponsored by State Rep. Jim McGregor, a Republican from Gahanna, who earlier introduced a bill requiring utilities to generate 22 percent of their power with wind, solar and other renewable technologies by 2020. They would have had to pay heavy fines if they did not meet a strict time table. The measure stalled, but parts of it are now expected to resurface.
The Logan County Wind Power Committee continues to make progress in its efforts to draw up recommendations for township wind turbine zoning ordinances. But it may not be fast enough for some residents who want to make sure the towering structures do not begin going up on nearby properties without assurances they are safe. “This is the first time they have had an in-depth discussion on any real issues,” Jefferson Township resident Linda Mazurek said after the committee discussed noise issues Wednesday morning. “But I don’t know that we are a lot further along than we were six months ago. It’s been long enough to get recommendations and keep this going.” The committee was formed last spring by county and township officials, the Logan- Union-Champaign Regional Planning Commission and representatives of wind power companies. They had hoped to have guidelines for wind turbines in place by early this year, Logan County Engineer Scott Coleman said.
Jefferson Township voters may not get to decide whether they like the new wind turbine zoning ordinance after a group of pro-wind landowners challenged a petition to place the issue on the March ballot. Lawyers on Wednesday filed a ninepage motion asking the Logan County Board of Elections to nullify a petition containing the names of hundreds of voters because of errors in how it was submitted. Residents circulated the petition following the township trustees' failure on Sept. 19 to override a zoning resolution proposed by the wind proponents. Susan Reames, who lives on County Road 5 and helped circulate the petitions, said she believes there needs to be more community input into the final ordinance.
Ohio lawmakers need to focus on creating imaginative, affordable incentives for solar and other alternative energy if they hope to lure manufacturers to Ohio in an increasingly competitive enviornment for such business. Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted says he's seen the light on solar and wind power for Ohio. It couldn't have happened at a more opportune time. ...The Senate's ill-defined requirement for 25 percent renewables and "advanced energy" by 2025 - as long as it's not too expensive - offers wiggle room the size of Lake Erie. That's not likely to mark Ohio as the next big market for wind and solar.
Subtle changes buried in an energy bill plotting the future of Ohioans' electricity rates guarantee that today's prices will never fall and make it nearly impossible for producers of green power to gain a foothold in the state. The amendments were added by the Ohio Senate to Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed energy bill, which the Ohio House has scheduled to debate at the leisurely pace of one hearing a week into the new year. Strickland, a Democrat, had asked the Republican-led General Assembly to pass the bill by Dec. 31, which now appears unlikely.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's energy bill is on its way to the Ohio House of Representatives after the Senate unanimously passed an amended version Wednesday. Substitute Senate Bill 221 generally affirms the major tenets of Strickland's Energy, Jobs and Progress for Ohio plan, which includes creating a hybrid approach to regulating prices when rates set by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio expire at the end of 2008, and growing the state's investment in eco-friendly energy sources. ...While upholding most of Strickland's proposals aimed at increasing the state's investment in advanced and renewable energy, the senate bill puts a 3 percent cap on consumers' costs in making the shift.
The Champaign County Commissioners voted to support state and local wind energy projects Tuesday. The commissioners unanimously passed a resolution backing renewable energy development in the state and urging Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland to set a requirement for 20 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025.
Wind energy projects headed for Champaign and Logan counties will get up to $3 million in grant awards to move forward with production, Gov. Ted Strickland announced Thursday. ...Diane McConnell, a Union Township resident and member of Union Neighbors United .. said the lack of information that affected residents have received is her biggest worry.
WASHINGTON - The House rejected a resolution Wednesday that would block government plans to spur construction of major new power lines in many states regardless of local opposition. The issue has been contentious in parts of the East Coast and in the Southwest, where two high priority transmission corridors for power lines were proposed. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., warned colleagues that unwanted power lines could come to their district.