Energy Bill Adds Wind Farm Referendum Option For Communities

May 24, 2019

Wind energy experts are pushing back against a change made to the House energy bill, HB6, that allows municipalities to vote on wind farm projects. Opponents of the change say this will dramatically impact the wind industry. 

The referendum provision reflects ongoing local battles among landowners who do and don’t want wind turbines in northwest Ohio.

                                                 Map of Wind Energy Projects in Ohio

Dayna Baird, American Wind Energy Association, says 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,” says Baird, adding 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 say this creates an unfair process for wind energy compared to other energy sources. As Trish Demeter, Ohio Environmental Council’s Action Fund, notes 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.