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Kasich Deals Second Fatal Blow to Clean Energy in Ohio

In just two business days, Gov. John Kasich has dealt two fatal blows to Ohio’s clean energy future.  Fittingly, on Friday the 13th, Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 into law, all but scaring away any clean energy businesses from locating in Ohio. Today, he added insult to injury, approving a separate law change that will effectively kill any new utility-scale wind investment in Ohio.

The amendment changes the minimum setback distance for wind turbines from 1,125 feet between the extended tip of a turbine and the nearest home to, instead, the nearest property line. The excessive distance separation is widely acknowledged to render economically unfeasible any future utility-scale wind farm in Ohio. The amendment was slipped into an unrelated budget bill at the last minute with no public testimony and little review.

“Right-wing lawmakers handed wind energy a death sentence by adding in this setback provision into the MBR at the 11th hour. Gov. Kasich could have ‘commuted’ this death penalty for wind energy, but instead he chose to look the other way.  Gov. Kasich’s quiet approval of this reckless assault—in addition to his signature on SB 310—speaks volumes about his true position on Ohio’s clean energy economy,” said Trish Demeter, OEC’s Managing Director of Energy and Clean Air Programs.

The Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding County has 152 wind turbines. Had the new setback language been in place when it the wind farm was built, only 15 turbines could have met the new standard.  The new law intentionally slams the door on any new wind project from being developed in Ohio, adding to the unwelcoming message of SB 310’s “temporary” freeze.  Gov. Kasich has claimed multiple times that he supports renewable energy. His back-to-back approval of these legislative assaults on clean energy prove otherwise.

“While much of the country is moving toward investing more in cleaner and more efficient energy technologies, Ohio has taken two giant steps back to secure its place as a loser in the clean energy sector. Our state has now made clear to clean energy technology companies that they’re not wanted here and that their investment can go to other states.  Ohio will watch as our neighbors get the shovel-ready wind projects that were set to be built here in Ohio in the coming years. The new jobs and investment dollars, and clean air benefits that were headed Ohio’s way will now all be ushered away to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois and other states,” Demeter continued.

Just two weeks after the US EPA released new carbon pollution reduction standards, Ohio has now made it doubly difficult to meet those standards. The OEC expects this will have a boomerang effect, eventually costing Ohioans in rising utility bills and dirtier air.