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Bill would allow wind turbines closer to property lines

Deal reached for Champaign County wind farm, but unclear when construction could start.

Proponents of a proposal to allow developers to build turbines closer to property lines say it would mean more wind farms and more money for the state but opponents say it would be at the expense of people who live nearby.

Developers have previously proposed wind farms for both Logan and Champaign counties. The plan for Logan County failed last year and a deal to build a wind farm in Champaign County was reached over the summer, although it’s unclear when construction will begin.

RELATED: Champaign wind farm may move forward after nearly decade-long fight

The bill proposed by state Sen. Cliff Hite would change the current setback requirement that turbines be built about 1,300 feet from property lines to about 600 feet.

It’s a compromise, Hite said, between rules from 2010 that required about 550 feet and the current much higher requirements.

“This is a chance to harness and harvest this wind and be an economic boom to our area,” Hite said.

His proposed setbacks of about 1.2 times the height of a turbine would be an incentive for developers to build in Ohio, he said.

“It’s progress and it’s jobs and economic development potential,” he said.

The idea that the bill is a compromise is wrong, according to House Majority Leader Bill Seitz, who opposes the bill.

“If it comes at the expense of the quiet enjoyment of adjacent property owners, then I disagree with him,” he said.

MORE COVERAGE: Wind farms stall, solar grows as energy debate continues in Ohio

Turbines can hurt a person’s ability to enjoy their yard, he said.

“Shadow flicker, ice throw, snow throw, failure, fire, toppling over, blades flying off,” he gave as examples of how turbines can negatively impact homeowners.

The Hog Creek Wind Farm is under construction in Hardin County and is projected to bring in $600,000 annually for the local government and schools, according to Amy Kurt, project manager for EDP Renewables, the company behind the wind farm.

That would be about $17 million over the lifetime of the project, she said.

The money will be great for Hardin County schools, Hite said, plus it will benefit the environment. This project would create a better world for his four granddaughters, he said.

“I want their air to be better. I want the environment to be better,” he said. “And when we reduce our carbon footprint, I think that is a plus.”

Local business owner Kenny Williams has worked on the Hog Creek project. Wind farms are a good idea, he said, as long as they’re in the right location.

DETAILS: Ohio 2nd in Midwest for renewable energy jobs but lags in growth

“There’s places for them,” Williams said. “There’s places that people won’t be for them, you know, that’s just the way it is.”

Seitz is open to compromise, he said. His suggestions would be to let local voters decide setback distances or to allow for shorter setback requirements when the adjacent property is neither a home, livestock farm or business.

“It is important to protect the neighboring properties that will have to absorb these impacts,” he said.

Hite anticipates the bill will pass in the state Senate but will face opposition in the House. He’s hopeful it could pass by the end of the year.

By the numbers

1,300 feet: Current distance turbines are required to be from property lines

600 feet: Proposed distance for turbines to be from property lines

550 feet: Previous distance turbines required to be from property lines in 2010

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has tracked developments in the wind industry and Champaign County for several years, including stories digging into concerns from neighbors and possible economic impacts of wind farms.

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