Energy / Renewable Energy / Wind Energy

Powerful lobbyist steered Seitz effort to block Ohio wind power jobs

COLUMBUS — “Newly-uncovered emails show the strong sway a lobbyist for large industrial users of coal power has had on Ohio wind-energy foe Rep. Bill Seitz’s efforts to keep the state’s strict property line setbacks in place. Insights from the 2017 emails are especially timely as a coalition of business, environmental and other groups work to bring growth back to the state’s wind industry by dialing back the restrictions put in place four years ago. Former Speaker Rosenberger’s role also raises questions.

In the early morning hours of June 27, 2017, a House-Senate Conference Committee worked to come up with a final budget to send to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Senate President Larry Obhof was struggling nearby with Speaker Cliff Rosenberger. At issue was an amendment to replace restrictive language that had appeared anonymously in the 2014 budget bill and tripled the distance a wind turbine could be erected from adjacent properties. That set-back restriction has devastated development of the wind industry in Ohio.

Obhof wanted it fixed.

Rosenberger, Ohio-state chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), appears to have been armed with a detailed critique of the amendment provided to him by Rep. Bill Seitz, a member of ALEC’s board of governors, and written by a powerful lobbyist known as “The Randazzler” — Sam Randazzo of the firm McNess Wallace & Nurick LLC.”

— Scott Peterson, Checks & Balances Project

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