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In the wind: Wind energy likely to grow in Ohio, so setting rules early makes sense

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.

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.

So far, the Morrow County commissioners have faced little objection to their proposed rules, which would limit the height of windmills and set minimum distances between towers and buildings and roadways.

They're also considering an appeals process to allow for diversions from the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

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.

So far, the Morrow County commissioners have faced little objection to their proposed rules, which would limit the height of windmills and set minimum distances between towers and buildings and roadways.

They're also considering an appeals process to allow for diversions from the rules when circumstances merit them. Given that wind energy is new to Ohio and residents have little experience with it, that flexibility is a good idea.

Morrow County zoning officials and commissioners are likely to have concrete proposals to consider soon. A "wind map" released last year by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory identified a ridge in Morrow County, along with areas of Logan and Champaign counties, as having high potential for wind energy.

Government must tread carefully in regulating windmills, which often generate opposition from neighbors who consider them ugly, noisy and potentially dangerous. Courts have ruled that, while local laws can regulate where they can be and set rules about their size and operation, those rules can't be so restrictive as to render them impossible to build.

Height and distance requirements can sharply limit what sites can be used for a windmill.

Wind power accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity. Critics maintain that power companies dabble in wind power only to take advantage of renewable-energy tax breaks, but the need for alternatives to oil and coal is real, and the expansion of technologies such as wind can play a role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Some in the General Assembly already have advocated setting statewide guidelines for counties and townships that want to regulate wind farms. Consistency and technical assistance with a technology that still is evolving would be prudent.


Source: http://www.dispatch.com/liv...

MAR 7 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/13732-in-the-wind-wind-energy-likely-to-grow-in-ohio-so-setting-rules-early-makes-sense
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