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Ohio bill would relax wind setbacks — and clean energy standards

Photo by Tom Hart / Creative Commons

COLUMBUS — “Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill that would relax the state’s strict wind turbine setbacks rules but again weaken renewable and energy efficiency standards.

The Ohio Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled Wednesday to discuss House Bill 114, which threatens to roll back the state’s on-again, off-again clean energy standards, which resumed 18 months ago after a 2014 law suspended them for two years.

The bill has drawn criticism from both wind energy opponents and clean energy advocates. It stops short of making renewable energy standards purely voluntary, as in the Ohio House version passed last year. Instead, it would set the top renewable energy standard target at 8.5 percent in 2022, down from the current law’s requirement of 12.5 percent in 2026. The top energy efficiency target would fall from 22.2 percent to 17.2 percent, with more opt-outs and profits for utilities.

An attempted trade-off in the bill would also loosen the state’s strict restrictions on wind turbine placement similar to reforms proposed in a stand-alone billintroduced several months ago by Ohio Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls).

HB 114 is the latest in an ongoing, six-year saga of efforts to weaken Ohio’s clean energy standards, all of which ‘make it difficult to plan for long-term markets and investments,’ said Becky Campbell, manager of regulatory and public affairs for First Solar. In her view, “HB 114 represents a step backward,” compared to other states.”

— Kathiann M Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

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