Monday night, Senate Bill 52 passed the House floor by a 52-43 vote and was followed shortly thereafter by a Senate concurrent vote of 21-12.
Following a stakeholder meeting a few weeks ago, we were pleased to have reached an agreement with the bill sponsors on changes that would require developers to provide notice and gain approval at the county level prior to any application being filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) and establish a timetable by which both developers and local governments must adhere. These changes resulted in an approach that better balances the need for more local input earlier in the process with the need for regulatory certainty.
SB 52 received five hearings in the House Public Utilities Committee and received multiple “clean-up” amendments during an interested party meeting and throughout the committee process that vastly improved the bill. Some of those changes included clarifying what constitutes a material amendment to a certificate, extending the time for when a developer can propose their project to County Commissioners by 30 days and reducing the number of solar projects that would be subjected to retroactivity, just to name a few.
Before SB 52 was voted out of committee, an amendment was considered to allow township trustees to submit a resolution, subject to referendum, to include or exclude townships in an energy development exclusion zone, for wind development only, after the county commissioners have already established the boundaries for the zone. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce expressed our concerns with the amendment in a letter sent to all House members. Ultimately, this amendment was voted down in committee as well as on the full House floor. The ongoing transition to a more diverse energy portfolio represents a significant economic development opportunity for our state. We are seeing increased demand for renewables from large employers across all sectors of the economy and think Ohio has a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this market trend. However, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce recognizes the importance of adding more local voices to the OPSB process while creating more regulatory certainty for the development community. We appreciate the good faith effort made by all parties as well as the opportunity to weigh-in as a stakeholder on this very important issue.