Wind turbine setbacks not ‘burdensome’

Industrial wind turbine setbacks have been a hot topic for several years. Developers have uttered words like “overly burdensome,” “effective moratorium” and “unreasonable” when describing Ohio’s current setbacks. We even have seen on at least two accounts in the last year where our very own Seneca County Commissioner Holly Stacy has submitted testimony requesting that any new energy bill should include “the restoration of reasonable wind siting regulations so that developers are no longer hindered by the current, unreasonable setbacks.”

Here is the reality: My family’s home lies within the proposed Seneca Wind project and the yard where my children play will have 20 600-plus-feet-tall industrial wind turbines placed within a 1.5-mile radius. The pro-wind lobby and Stacy would have you believe this is impossible with Ohio’s current setbacks. But the truth is they are merely pushing their own agendas.

Under the current Ohio law, landowners and developers are afforded an opportunity to negotiate and sign a “setback easement,” aka “Good Neighbor Agreement,” allowing developers to place industrial wind turbines closer to people’s properties than the law specifies. During this process, landowners have a chance to weigh the cost versus benefit to them. Typically, these agreements pay landowners $500-$2,000 per year. To date, the Seneca Wind and Republic Wind projects in Seneca County have acquired nearly 90% of the necessary setback waivers to build their projects under current setback law.

The real issue here is that the wind industry does not want to work with people who must live less than 1,125ft from a 600-plus-foot industrial wind turbine, but would rather convince our elected officials in Columbus to grant them uncompensated easements and take away our right to live peaceably on our own property. Such a use of force would give more rights to the outsider wind industry than their own Ohio residents.

Shame on you, Stacy, and shame on these politicians from urban areas that are far removed from this controversial issue. HB 223 (current bill aiming to reduce setbacks) is one of the most ill-conceived bills I have ever seen. I encourage anyone who thinks its just wrong to cram industrial wind turbines closer to homes, schools and parks to write your elected officials telling them how you feel. For more information on the topic, you can visit the Seneca Anti-Wind Union’s Facebook page.