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The recent calamity in Ohio should serve to remind wind energy stakeholders that effective federal and state policies should never be taken for granted. Without clear and stable policy, everything comes into question.

In less than a week, Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, brought wind energy in the Buckeye State to its knees. Spurred on by the legislature, Kasich helped to roll back the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard and let stand an onerous setback requirement that wind turbines be placed within 1,500 feet of the nearest property line as opposed to the nearest residence. (For more on Ohio and other policy matters impacting wind, see “Making The Grade: Assessing U.S. Policy”.)

Taken together, these actions cast considerable doubt over the future viability of Ohio wind projects, such as Iberdrola’s 126 MW Leipsic wind farm, which is currently under development in Putnam County. “We are still evaluating how to proceed with our wind farm development efforts,” explains Paul Copleman, an Iberdrola spokesperson. “But there is no question that any future wind development in Ohio just got much more difficult.”

What happened in Ohio should serve as a wake-up call to stakeholders up and down the wind energy supply chain, explains Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy at the American Wind Energy Association. To prevent a similar occurrence in another state, stakeholders need to be more vigilant when it comes to public advocacy efforts, such as contacting their elected representation.

“If anyone doubts the importance of policy, the recent double whammy in Ohio shows what can happen when elected officials are not held accountable,” he says. “We, in the wind industry, have to be the ones to tell them.”

Fortunately, stakeholders do not have to wait very long to exercise their constitutional rights. That’s because deliberations concerning the EXPIRE Act – legislation that contains a two-year extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC) – are likely to resume when Congress reconvenes next month. Gramlich maintains that legislation as critical as the PTC could surely benefit from the backing of the wind industry at large.

“Everyone in our industry needs to tell members of Congress when they come home this month to pass the EXPIRE Act and urge state legislators to stand up for renewable portfolio standards,” urges Gramlich. “We need to let elected officials know that in their own backyards, real jobs and community benefits are at stake.”

Time is of the essence. Make the call. As I’ve said before in these pages: Legislation is much too important to simply leave up to the whim of legislators. w

Wind Bearings

Wind Bearings