As wind and solar development projects increase across the state, so do the questions from landowners. Over the past few months, Ohio Farm Bureau has received numerous calls from members as well as local government leaders asking about everything from leases to eminent domain involving these projects. Ohio Farm Bureau has been talking to members both individually and at special informational meetings held in local communities.
“The reason why these projects are taking off is because technology is more advanced than it was five or 10 years ago. When it comes to solar, things have literally exploded. We’re seeing 12 different solar projects right now in various stages of development. And the construction of wind turbines is on the upswing right now,” said Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau director of energy policy. Coal-fired energy plants are also being phased out quicker than anticipated, increasing the need for alternative sources of energy, Arnold said.
When it comes to solar energy, the main questions from Farm Bureau members have centered around what to look for in a lease and company transparency. Arnold recommends landowners consult with an attorney knowledgeable about these types of leases before signing anything.
County Farm Bureaus have been working on policies that call for companies to do more and better outreach about projects.
“Currently, a company only needs to post ads in a newspaper in a county seat and send first-class mailed letters for those in project areas regarding when the first community meeting is,” Arnold said. “Could there be other and more effective types of outreach and notice?”
With wind projects, the main questions center around the placement of turbines, eminent domain and how environmental concerns are being addressed. Wind turbine placement has to adhere to setback requirements from public roads, property lines and existing buildings. Those requirements are currently under review in the state legislature. Arnold noted that rarely does eminent domain apply in these type of cases. He said the Ohio Power Siting Board has jurisdiction over both solar and wind projects.
To request an informational meeting about solar, wind or natural gas projects, contact your county Farm Bureau.