New Wind farm development in Ohio has been stymied for three years because of a restrictive zoning provision slipped into a 2014 budget bill, say developers who are trying persuade lawmakers this week to return to the state’s original regulations.
The industry has been ready to spend nearly $1.3 billion on already-approved Ohio projects, a report released today by the American Wind Energy Association, but cannot because making even the slightest change in the projects would automatically place the developments under the new regulations.
Before the law changed in 2014 with an anonymous last-minute insertion of language into the 2014 budget bill, the industry has already spent nearly $1 billion building several wind farms in northwest Ohio.
The new AWEA analysis, using standard federal modeling tools, estimates that those original wind developments are on course to pour $1.6 billion in economic activity into the state over the next 30 years.
And if developers were able to build the wind farms the Ohio Power Siting Board approved before the 2014 law change, the impact on the Ohio economy would amount to another $2.67 billion over the next 30 years, including millions of dollars spent here for maintenance and operations, lease payments to farmers and local taxes.
John Hensley, AWEA’s deputy director of of data and analysis, said the technology is changing so fast in the industry that developers ready to build here would have to appear again before the Ohio Power Siting Board to amend their original applications — instantly losing their grandfathered status.
Turbines have gotten a lot bigger an taller, he said, and because of changes in materials and design, today’s turbines are more efficient and wringing more power out of the wind.