By B.N. Frank
Some people don’t want to live near solar and/or wind farms for a variety of reasons. Last month, Activist Post reported about Ohio legislation that would give more authority to landowners and municipalities regarding utility-scale solar and wind farm development. The legislation has now been passed.
Ohio Legislature Adopts New Wind and Solar Siting Law S.B. 52 Requires County Commission Approval
On June 28, 2021, the Ohio General Assembly passed Substitute Senate Bill 52, a significant revision to Ohio’s power siting approval process for utility-scale solar and wind projects. Governor Mike DeWine is expected to sign the bill into law, with an expected effective date in early October 2021.1
Sponsored by Senators Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) and Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin), S.B. 52 aims to increase local awareness and input from property owners – and to require approval from local county officials.2
In short, the law requires a new upfront approval from the County Commission prior to the developer moving forward with the state siting process for certification of utility-scale solar and wind projects. This legislation has five major components:
- Grandfathers certain wind and solar projects already in development, not subjecting them to local approval mechanisms in S.B. 52.
• Subjects future projects to review by County Commissioners before developer submitting application to the Ohio Power Siting Board.
• Allows County Commissioners to establish restricted areas where wind and solar projects are prohibited, subject to referendum.
• Adds two more voting members to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to now include county and township government representatives or designees on solar and wind projects.
• Requires developers to submit decommissioning plans when applying to OPSB.
The Ohio Power Siting Board, housed within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, is responsible for approving the siting of major utility facilities and ensuring that they meet requirements specified in Ohio law. The OPSB issues certificates following a rigorous application process, including notice, hearings, testimony, fees, and an OPSB staff investigation. Projects subject to OPSB jurisdiction are generally not subject to the zoning regulations of the local municipal corporation, county, or township.
Wind and Solar Project Certificates and “Material Amendments”
S.B. 52 revises this approval process for new applications or “material amendments” to existing certificates for an “economically significant wind farm,” a “large wind farm,” or a “large solar facility.” R.C. 303.57.
Under the bill, an economically significant wind farm refers to wind turbines and associated facilities with a single interconnection with the electrical grid capable of generating at least five megawatts (MWs) but not more than 50 MWs. R.C. 303.57 (A). A large solar facility or large wind farm means an electric generating plant that consists of solar panels and associated facilities or wind turbines and associated facilities with a single interconnection to the electrical grid capable of operation at 50 megawatts or more. R.C. 303.57 (B).
A material amendment would:
- Increase the facility’s nameplate capacity
2. Change the facility’s generation type from one type of utility facility to another, or
3. Change the facility’s boundaries, unless the new boundaries of the facility are entirely within the previous boundaries of the facility or the facility components outside the previous boundaries are underground.
4. For wind projects, increase the number or height of turbines. R.C. 303.57(C).
Application to Pending Projects – “Grandfathering”
The bill specifies that it does not apply to certain pending wind and solar projects, effectively “grandfathering” those projects meeting certain criteria. The grandfathering provisions are separate for pending wind and solar projects. See Sections 3, 4, and 5 of S.B. 52.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information visit our archives.
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