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Ohio Surges in Small Wind Installations, Lags in Large Wind Farms

With larger, more efficient turbines, the cost of wind power has dropped dramatically. (Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons)
With larger, more efficient turbines, the cost of wind power has dropped dramatically. (Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons)
August 17, 2017

CLEVELAND – Ohio businesses and farms are generating a lot of onsite wind power, but the state has fallen behind its neighbors in developing larger wind farm capacity.

The U.S. Department of Energy's 2016 "Wind Technologies Market Report" ranks Ohio sixth in the nation for wind power generated by individual homes, farms and businesses for their own use.

Trish Demeter, managing director of energy programs for the Ohio Environmental Council, says that's in line with national and global trends for customers taking control of their own energy needs.

"That's a good thing that we have going in Ohio, that customers are able to do that,” she states. “They don't necessarily have to have permission from a utility to meet their own power needs by installing one of these wind systems at their home or business."

A companion DOE report shows Ohio has fallen far behind other Great Lakes states – Illinois, Indiana and Michigan – in utility-scale wind generating capacity.

The DOE ranked Ohio 26th for large wind farm generating capacity. Demeter says that's because in 2014, the Ohio Legislature passed very restrictive siting requirements for large-scale wind farms.

"It essentially put a moratorium on new, large scale wind development in the state of Ohio,” she stresses. “So, that's why we haven't seen any new large-scale wind farms move forward in the state."

State legislators also have tried to roll back state mandates for increasing the amount of energy utilities get from renewable sources.

Demeter says those efforts create uncertainty about demand and, combined with the siting restrictions, the state seems to be discouraging developers from bringing their business here.

"Our state policies should be sending out a clear signal that, 'We want you to come here, we want you to invest, we want those jobs here,' and we also want all the environmental benefits that we get in return," she states.

As wind turbines have grown larger and more efficient, she adds, the cost of wind power has dropped and is now competitive with gas turbine power.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - OH