The Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee took additional testimony of Sen. Widener’s SB 232 which would exempt from taxation renewable energy facilities that are not financed through the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority and require a payment in lieu of taxes on the basis of each megawatt of production capacity in such facilities.
Larry Viterna, president and CEO of Nautica Windpower, LLC; and Jasson Clark, Ohio and Vicinity Regional Council of Carpenters testified in support of SB232. Written testimony in support of the bill was submitted by Phil McClure of the McClure Family Trust and Elaine Siler, a landowner in Van Wert County.
Viterna said the Federal Wind Energy Program that invented many of the technologies for large wind turbines was, unfortunately, ended in 1985, allowing “the Europeans to build on our technical investment and capture the dominant position in the multibillion dollar world market of wind turbine manufacturing. Fortunately for our wind industry,” he added, “at least a few U.S. system manufacturers such as General Electric are now back in production and have developed a significant market position.”
Viterna said his company is working with other Ohio companies to develop a new wind turbine “to open up the vast resource of offshore wind energy.” He said SB232’s proposal to provide a limited exemption from the personal property tax on renewable power production would be an important component to making Ohio competitive with surrounding states for investment at this time.
Viterna said Chairman Widener’s estimate of 8,000 parts in a wind turbine is probably accurate, and that Ohio suppliers may be capable of manufacturing 80 percent of them.
In response to Sen. Sawyer, Viterna said the Legislature should insist that SB232 address reactive power and decentralized power. He said, unlike early designs that placed a burden on power grids, current technologies in wind power generators and controls make them an asset to the power grid, reducing the potential for blackouts like the 2003 northeast blackout.
Although unclear about what work carpenters do on wind turbines, Clark said SB232 would “remove one of the last hurdles to wind turbine power,” providing “hundreds of good paying jobs for trained workers.” He told Widener Ohioans will be able to fill a majority of the jobs although some companies may bring in their own out-of-state forces.
McClure wrote, “… I strongly support this effort to lower the tax burdens threatening our chance of getting a renewable energy source being proposed for the counties of northwest Ohio… Current government taxation, both state and local, along with all the associated government regulation is simply killing any business or industry opportunities for our state.”
Siler wrote, “It is important to bring new industries to Ohio – and most importantly new technology, such as renewable energy… [SB232] is one of the most important means of encouragement to say ‘Welcome to Ohio; we are looking forward to your success and ours!'”
Prompted by Sen. Husted, Chairman Widener announced that amendments are due this Friday for a substitute bill expected at next week’s hearing when all testimony will be received, with a vote immediately thereafter.