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Wildlife and Wind Energy

In 2008 with the passage of Senate Bill 221, Ohio became the 27th state to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). This regulation mandates that at least 12.5 percent of Ohio’s energy must come from renewable sources, such as hydroelectric, solar and/or wind energy by the year 2025. At least half of this electricity must be generated within the state. Ohio currently has 5 industrial-scale wind turbines. Four 1.8-megawatt wind turbines were installed near the Wood County landfill west of Bowling Green in 2003. Then, in 2007 a smaller 225-kilowatt turbine was installed at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. Currently, all sources of renewable energy combined provide approximately 1 percent of Ohio’s total energy production and hydroelectric is the dominant source.

Also in 2008, House Bill 562 gave regulatory authority to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) for any proposed electrical generating facility with the cumulative generating capacity of >5 megawatts. As part of the OPSB application process, developers must assess the potential ecological impact of the proposed facility (Rule 4906-17-08 (B)).

In addition to being 1 of the 7 voting members of the OPSB, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) provides input and recommendations to the OPSB regarding the potential impact a proposed facility may have on Ohio’s wildlife resources. The ODNR Division of Wildlife has established study guidelines for pre- and post-construction monitoring at proposed onshore wind energy facilities. These standardized procedures will allow the Division of Wildlife to make broad-scale comparisons in order to minimize wind/wildlife interactions. A similar effort is underway for proposed wind energy facilities placed within Lake Erie (coming soon).

The Division of Wildlife supports the development of “green” energy within Ohio but emphasizes that green energy means not only reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption but also minimizing potential impacts to wildlife and fisheries resources. The Division of Wildlife believes that Ohio can accomplish the goals of Senate Bill 221 and encourage the growth of green industries in Ohio while protecting our wildlife resources through the use of advanced technologies (such as radar) and environmentally responsible siting of wind energy facilities.