A Free-Market Energy Blog

Ohio’s Win, AWEA’s Loss (Rep-Elect Vitale new national hero)

By Thomas Stacy II -- June 19, 2014

“Gov. Kasich has walked away from his commitment to renewable energy. He and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio. Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”

– Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association,  AWEA Press Release, June 16, 2014.

Is that a threat, Mr. Kiernan? Because states neighboring Ohio should indeed bristle at your words. Perhaps some legislatures will even muster the bravery to follow suit and protect their citizens with wind turbine setback distances measured from property lines – the way most other safety related zoning measurements are.

Kiernan’s whine makes it sound that it is AWEA’s land that it is being made off-limits to wind development. Neither is the case.

Furthermore, the new Ohio standard is not the first of its kind, and certainly not the most restrictive. For instance, in Clifton, Maine wind turbine project developers by law must negotiate an easement with all landowners whose property line is within 4,000 ft. of a wind energy generator.

“If Gov. Kasich is serious about this being a freeze and study, and not about defeating renewable energy, and if he wants us to believe what he says, then he simply must veto the setback,” [AWEA’s Ohio lobbyist, Dayna Baird] Payne said. “It would really be the end of the line for the industry… [a death knell].”

Whine, whine, whine on the taxpayer’s dime….

Rep. Nino Vitale Wins for Ohio

State Representative Elect in Ohio’s 85th District, Nino Vitale, an Ohio native and entrepreneur formerly with Apple, Wendy’s International and now helping run a family business, ran his first ever political campaign over the past year. He swept the district in a hotly contested race for the vacating legislative seat left by conservative John Adams who is term limited.

Vitale resides where a wind energy projects in Ohio has been proposed. Like most, that wind project hasn’t gotten off the ground. In this case it’s due to numerous legal challenges mounted by the County, the County seat, several townships, a Pete Dye original golf club and a coalition of residents living in the densely populated (by rural standards) footprint of the proposed project.

Ohio is one of less than a handful of states to take wind project zoning jurisdiction to the state level. As one who introduced that idea to the legislature back in 2008 after the RPS passed, I have been lamenting it ever since – until now.

Mr. Vitale, eager to help improve Ohio’s politics and policies by reducing burdensome regulations and taxes, sees increasing setbacks for wind not as an unfair burden to the wind industry but as relieving unfair and arbitrary property rights infringements on nearby uncompensated land owners.

Vitale is using his pre-swear-in period to stay in close touch with constituents and make sure they agree with the direction he hopes to lead the state once in office. This email arrived in my in-box on June 17th – the day after Governor Kasich signed into law a bill that includes language extending minimum wind turbine setback distances from non-participating property lines to 1,125 ft. plus the length of one turbine blade, or roughly 1,300 ft. in total with today’s technology.

That 1,300 ft. is still less than several wind turbine manufacturers suggest in their safety manuals. The problem is the wind industry wants to use neighboring property as part of their project safety buffer zone but don’t want to have to pay for that use. Not surprising, wind energy is well accustomed to perpetual special favors at every political level.

IF AWEA ever folds, at least its workers can rest assured they can find alternative employment with the Panhandler’s Guild.

Vitale Victory Report

Breaking News at the Ohio State Capital Tonight – The Government has done well by the people.

In this time where many have felt the government has not been listening, today, the people were heard.  House Bill (HB) 483 was passed and has now made the measurement from the base of an industrial wind turbine to a property line instead of the way the law used to be, which was to the foundation of the home. This protects neighboring properties from devaluation and also begins to take into account the manufacturer recommendations of at least 1500 feet or more. For some reason, the wind companies want it to be less than what the wind turbine manufacturers recommended, causing property value issues and hazards to people when turbines are sighted too close.

Your State House, Senate and Governor have all listened to the people and today, made this law in the State of Ohio. Property rights have been protected and proper sighting is moving toward what is recommended. Hats off to Governor Kasich, President Faber and the many others who helped get this prudent legislation passed. This is truly government of, by and for the people. Let’s do what the wind turbine manufacturers recommend and follow the proper setbacks.












Photo credit: IICCUSA.org

The text in HB 483 reads as follows.

a) The rules also shall prescribe a minimum setback for a wind turbine of an economically significant wind farm. That minimum shall be equal to a horizontal distance, from the turbine’s base to the property line of the wind farm property, equal to one and one-tenth times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its base to the tip of its highest blade and be at least one thousand one hundred twenty-five feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine’s nearest blade at ninety degrees to the nearest adjacent property at the time of the certification application.

Appendix: Property Line is now the Rule of Law in Ohio (by Vito Vitale)

As quid pro quo to AWEA’s tired “myth busting” rhetoric, I feel compelled to debunk some myths that the wind industry is propagating on the heels of Ohio’s property rights restoring change in the law.


TRUTH: The increase in setbacks from property lines does not mean wind turbines cannot be constructed closer to adjacent properties – it simply requires that such siting be done with the blessing of those neighboring owners, typically consummated in an easement lease.

No longer are we arguing over whether the dominating industrial presence of 500 ft. tall machines with nine ton, 200 ft. long exposed rotating parts whose blade tip speeds exceed 150 MPH impose on nearby property values and the rights of those property owners, we are simply allowing the free market determine the value of that imposition.

Will the increase cost developers something? Yes. And that cost will be equal to what they were previously taking from area property owners without asking and without paying for.

But the cost is not high relative to the sum of the monetary value of all subsidies and inducements accruing to wind project owners. By my calculations, Ohio wind projects are eligible to receive about $65 per MWh of value from sources aside from selling electricity at prevailing energy market rates. Even if lease payment expense obligations of wind developers triple under the new law, that expense would be equal to less that 5% of those subsidies – about $3 per MWh.

Current lease payment expenses average about $4,000 per nameplate MW per year. An additional $8,000 of expense per MW per year must be divided by the denominator of product of 8,766 hours per year times 30% capacity factor times the $65 in unearned revenue wind projects receive from taxpayers and ratepayers as subsidies and as a result of mandates. I get increased lease payment expense obligation of 4.68% of subsidies.


TRUTH: Ohio conservatives and liberals alike are in favor of cleaner sources of electricity. In fact they “love them like their own children.” What those in power don’t like are unearned wealth transfers to industries claiming – but not proving – to provide cost effective environmental gains.

Like adult children who work as little as possible while refusing to stop mooching from Mom and Dad, Ohio just wants their beloved wind energy industry to muster the self-respect to try to make it on its own.

And just as with a dependent child, handouts don’t teach the wind industry to make the most of itself – to work hard and innovate in exchange for earnings. Handouts, in fact, reward complacency. And such undeserved rewards get exactly what they pay for.

After 22 years of federal production subsidies and dozens of other handouts to wind, enough is enough. It’s time for wind to pay its own way. The increase in minimum siting distances for wind is the second Ohio bill in a week to become law and which encourages the wind energy industry to wean itself from mooching and to start contributing to our nation’s prosperity.

Whether they move forward under their own volition or collapse in a temper tantrum is their decision alone.


Leave a Reply