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Riedel, Stein introduce bill to give voters a voice on wind and solar projects

Published By Norwalk Reflector on February 17, 2021
Dick Stein In The News

COLUMBUS - State Reps. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) recently introduced legislation that protects the property rights of township residents by allowing a public referendum for wind and solar projects.

“As a state legislator in Northwest Ohio, I represent the counties with the most wind development in the state,” said Riedel. “The beauty of this bill is that is gives local control to township residents for them to decide whether wind development is welcome to move forward or stopped where it is not welcome.”

Under the bill, developers are required to share their application with township trustees 30 days before applying for a certificate or an amendment to an existing certificate from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).

After reviewing the application, trustees must vote on one of the following:

• A resolution allowing public input (grants qualified electors within the affected township the right to petition a referendum)

• A resolution requiring public input (stipulates that if approved, a certificate is required to be submitted to the voters of the township for approval via referendum)

• No resolution (indicates public support for the project)

A certificate or amendment issued by OSPB for a project that falls within the area of a township becomes effective on the 90th day after it is issued unless a referendum petition is filed with the local board of elections.

If the petition receives the required number of signatures of at least 8 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, the project must be approved by voters at the next primary or general election before moving forward.

The bill sponsors noted that the bill is permissive for townships and provides no hindrance to townships that support wind and solar projects in their region.

“With the introduction of this legislation we look forward to expanding rights of local communities to be more active participants in wind development which affects their daily lives,” Stein said.

The measure now awaits referral to a House committee.

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