COLUMBUS, Ohio — No other state is a better example of the sophisticated effort to undermine clean energy than Ohio. In Columbus, powerful House Majority Leader Bill Seitz leads these efforts with support from fossil fuel lobbyists from the statehouse. But what’s happening in the capital is just part of the story.
Seneca Anti-Wind Union leader Chris Aichholz testified in front of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday to voice his support for State Rep. Bill Reineke’s recent bill that would allow wind turbine projects to be put up to a local vote, repeating the same scripted anti-wind energy talking points circulated to members of SAWU, which has been described as a local “cult-like group.”
Aichholz has been accused of “provoking angst and fear” in Seneca County through his group, which reportedly has ties to the fossil fuel industry.
In addition to Aichholz, Erie County resident Dennis W. Schreiner testified in support of Reineke’s bill, but failed to mention that he has ties to FirstEnergy, the bankrupt utility that operates now-bailed out nuclear power plants in Ohio.
A poll conducted by Ohio Conservative Energy Forum in Jan. 2018 showed that 76 percent of voters support setback limits for wind projects that will allow wind energy investment to occur in rural Ohio while protecting individual landowner’s rights to lease their land for wind projects with 76 percent support.
Nearly four-in-five conservative voters in Ohio (79 percent) said they would tell a Republican candidate to support policies that encourage energy efficiency and greater use of renewable energy in the state.
Supporters of Reineke’s bill argue that this would allow township residents more of a voice in the siting process.
Critics, however, such as the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, a group that advocates for energy issues from a conservative perspective, says this legislation would “impede property rights” and create hurdles for energy developers.
“Ohio has a rich history of being a leader in innovation. This proposal would send a strong signal that Ohio views the emerging renewable energy industry with hostility and would slam the door to the economic opportunities this industry provides,” said Tyler Duvelius, Ohio Conservative Energy Forum executive director in a written statement. “The government has no place trampling property rights in favor of one form of energy over another.”