Ohio lawmakers have introduced companion bills that would allow individual townships in the state to hold public referendums on proposed wind and solar projects.
The bills, SB 52 in the Senate and HB 118 in the House, would require renewable energy project developers to share their application with township trustees 30 days before applying for a certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board. HB 118 currently awaits referral to a House committee.
Township trustees, after reviewing the application, could then move to call for a referendum petition. If that petition receives signatures representing at least 8% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, then the project must be voted on at the next primary or general election before moving forward.
Bill advocates said the measure is an expansion of community rights, and that it is only permissive in nature. They said the bill would not hinder townships that want to host renewable energy projects from doing so.
Renewable energy advocates, however, argued that the bills would have a chilling effect on renewable projects that are expected to be developed in the state. They also argue that utility-scale electric generation must be regulated at the state level and not at the township level.
The Solar Energy Industries Association projects Ohio to install 1,904 MW over the next 5 years, good for 14th in the nation over that period.
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