Since being first elected in 2016, my focus has primarily been on the energy sector. I sit on the house public utilities committee, energy and natural resources committee and have the honor to serve as chair of a subcommittee on energy generation. My observations are based on weekly interactions with those involved in and affected by aspects of the generation, transmission and distribution of energy. These opinions are my own.
Wind turbines in Ohio provide a negligible contribution to our grid. Wind generation by its very nature is unpredictable, making it hard to manage. According to the latest PJM regional transmission report, Ohio wind provides a mere 104 megawatts of capacity; set against a backdrop of the 2,134 MW of equally carbon-free energy produced at Ohio’s two nuclear power plants. On top of this, wind generators rely on the 24/7 availability of fast-ramping, carbon-polluting, alternative generation to make up for the intermittence of wind.
I have lived in this rural setting all my life and believe our landscape will be forever damaged by industrial wind farms. Across the country, citizens are standing up to protect the environment and their quality of life. We are seeing that wind development can divide communities. Last month, a wind developer withdrew its 47 turbine application for a wind project in New York near Somerset due to local resident resistance. Last December, another halted plans in New Castle, Ind., for a $300 million wind farm due to resident opposition.
On Wednesday, I witnessed a well-attended Huron County commissioners meeting. This meeting was a packed public forum to discuss a proposal to approve a PILOT — payment in lieu of taxes — to Apex Clean Energy for local wind projects. The PILOT gives every benefit to the wind company and places the risk of recovering the full amount of taxes owed squarely on the citizens of Huron County for 30 years.
If the commissioners give in to Apex Clean Energy’s request, the commissioners will be providing excessive upfront tax relief to a project Apex’s own spokesperson said will not affect the project moving forward. Wind companies and wind project get bought and sold all the time, and in my opinion the risk is too great.
I have heard from many of you personally and at my recent office hours in Norwalk. I am moved by your pleas and will work to move Ohio forward to ensure our children and our grandchildren have the opportunity to view our county’s picturesque countryside as God intended. I encourage the commissioners to vote no on a PILOT.
Dick Stein is state representative of the 57th district.