Back in 2014, the Ohio legislature passed a short regulation in the state budget requiring all wind turbines over 50 MW must increase their distance from the blade tip to the nearest property line from 750 feet to 1125 feet — or about 1/4 mile.
While Ohio’s a big state, there isn’t enough room to develop wind power under that rule. Wind power backers say the quarter-mile rule thins the number of potential turbine installations to the point where nearly all proposed wind farms economically unsustainable. A report by the American Wind Energy Association says proposed Ohio wind-energy projects could generate $4.2 billion in private investment, producing thousands of jobs in Ohio-based production, installation, and maintenance while generating billions in local income. Zero-fuel wind energy could also protect consumers from natural gas prices spikes, thereby helping consumers find the best electricity rates.
The rule’s proponents claim that tall turbines somehow threaten the value of neighboring properties. Some believe wind turbines have noise issues, flicker caused from turning blades, reduce quality of life, and cause health and safety issues for those who live nearby.
This year’s rule controversy has arisen because northwestern Ohio wind energy developers want to add more while some of the residents passionately oppose it.
Changing the rule came up last month in the Ohio General Assembly as part of the budget process. The Senate supported easing the setback rule to 600 feet in the proposed state budget. However, the House removed the updated rule saying changes should be in the context of a larger energy policy discussion. changes should be in the context of a larger energy policy discussion.
Because of the scope of wind energy investment, it’s very likely the issue will arise in the legislature this coming fall.