Monday, August 01, 2016 5:06 am
Wind advocates seeking to loosen restrictions
Motorists traveling east on U.S. 30 see massive wind turbines long before they reach the Ohio border. Timber Road II wind farm began operating in Paulding County, Ohio, in 2011. But turbine setback restrictions approved by the state have hampered development of new large wind farms, including additional turbines in Allen County’s neighboring county.
The same opposition that spurred the Ohio law can be found in Indiana, where some county officials are taking steps to make their communities unattractive to wind farm developers, with setback restrictions or outright bans. Officials in Howard and Tipton counties both amended setback ordinances recently, according to the Kokomo Tribune.
Rural residents who don’t want the massive turbines in their backyards increasingly find wind farm developers aren’t the only force they must counter, however. As the push for renewable energy grows, corporations are joining the fray. Amazon.com is touting 2,000 jobs it will bring to Ohio as it pushes for restrictions to be lifted there.
Columbus Business First reported earlier this year that Amazon wants to harness energy generated by new turbines in Paulding County to power its operations in a central Ohio data center.
"Unfortunately Ohio’s wind turbine setback standards enacted a little more than two years ago have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio," the chief lobbyist for the Seattle-based company told an Ohio House Committee in May. "In fact, the current setbacks have acted as a moratorium of sorts on new wind development." Amazon has said it will generate some of the power for its planned $1.1 billion data center in central Ohio at a new Amazon Web Services Wind Farm in Indiana’s Benton County, near the Illinois border.
Amazon has committed to eventually powering all of its facilities with clean energy. Its proposed wind farm in Paulding County is a partnership with EDP Renewables to build the 100-megawatt Amazon Wind Farm US Central near the Indiana border. Next May is the targeted operation date for the Timber Road expansion. To accommodate the project, some Ohio lawmakers are pushing "wind corridor" legislation to supersede current turbine setback restrictions.
Indiana property owners and elected officials should note the drama playing out to the east. They must be prepared to balance energy and economic interests with property rights as wind energy development grows.