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States Don't Have to Decide Between Wind Development and Environment

States Don't Have to Decide Between Wind Development and Environment

Date: 12/13/2010

Location: OH

Source: Stacia Cudd, National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service

Audio with Tony Logan, USDA Rural Development Director for the state of Ohio (MP3 1.3 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:44.

Ohio was the 26th state to create a renewable portfolio standard — or RPS. The legislation requires electric utilities to increase their use of renewable energy sources — like wind — from .25-percent in 2009 to 12.5-percent in 2025. The measure is expected to support 5,000 to 7,000 megawatts of new wind energy installations or investments with a value of 10 to 14-billion dollars. In the near-term, before 2012, the legislation was expected to result in 650 to 750 megawatts of new wind energy investments worth about 1.3 to 1.5-billion dollars.

USDA Rural Development Director for the state of Ohio Tony Logan says the RPS has had an even bigger impact than that.

"During this past year, our Ohio Power Siting Board has approved over 800 megawatts of new wind projects and there's some 2500 megawatts still in the queue, so that's a lot of wind turbines."

Logan says the Ohio Wind Working Group was very active in discussing the benefits of a robust wind future for the state. He says they provided a forum for conflict resolution and consensus building, which set the table for widespread wind development. In the end, he says the economic development benefits of wind energy development were too great for folks not to get behind the RPS.

"Here's why. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Ohio, given its existing metal working infrastructure and factories and manufacturing capabilities, is one of four states naturally which stand to benefit the most in terms of new jobs from a wind energy economy."

At this point, Logan says there are no major regulatory barriers to Ohio's wind future. He says there are some environmental concerns however. Logan was formerly with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He says it is possible for wind development and the environment to co-exist in the state.

"We've been studying, through our wildlife division at the Department of Natural Resources, the effects of wind turbines on birds and bats. And these studies have been going on for several years now, and as a result, we may have ruled out a few sites that are off limits because of eagle nests and endangered species and the like. But we have identified vast areas in Ohio's best wind regions that now, after all the study, are open for sustainable wind production. And that includes some choice sites out on Lake Erie."

Logan says that's where the best winds in Ohio are, which is why there is an effort to create an industry for offshore freshwater winds.

This information was last updated on December 13, 2010