Supreme Court of Ohio Reviewing Challenge to Authorization of Wind Farm Project

By: Dallas F. Kratzer III

Published: June 13, 2022

Renewable energy projects in Ohio may be stimulated or stifled depending on the outcome of In re Application of Firelands Wind LLC (Case No. 2022-0055). The appeal involves an ongoing challenge to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s authorization of Firelands Wind LLC’s proposed construction of a new Ohio wind farm called the Emerson Creek wind farm. The Board approved the project in June 2021 and again on rehearing in November 2021, but those decisions were appealed yet again to the Supreme Court of Ohio in January 2022.

The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, through counsel at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, recently filed an amicus brief urging advancement of Firelands Wind’s project. The brief emphasizes how the Emerson Creek project will serve the interest, convenience, and necessity of the people and businesses of Ohio. As the brief explains, supporting renewable energy projects in Ohio will fulfill rising business demand for renewable energy, yield broad economic benefits for Ohio citizens, and tap into the full potential of Ohio’s wind power capacity.

Business Demand

Business demand for renewable energy is exploding in Ohio and beyond. Corporate purchases of renewable energy in the United States have increased by nearly 600% since 2016. Driving this growth in demand are some of the country’s largest employers, including international technology companies, many of which conduct business in Ohio. But delays resulting from a lack of finality in Ohio’s administrative process for approving renewable energy sites could deter companies from investing in Ohio.

Economic Benefits

Attracting businesses to Ohio by meeting their renewable energy needs will further generate numerous benefits for residents. With each renewable energy project comes the creation of jobs, provision of rental income to landowners, and increases in tax revenues to support schools, libraries, and other community services. For example, the Emerson Creek project is expected to provide $170.4 million in economic output to Ohio communities if allowed to go forward as approved by the Board.

Energy Opportunities

Ohio possesses remarkable renewable energy potential that has not yet been fully realized. This is especially true for Ohio’s wind power capacity. While Ohio has at least as much wind energy capacity as neighboring states do, most of those states outperform Ohio in fulfilling their capacity. Establishing the finality of the administrative approval process for siting renewable energy projects could jump-start Ohio’s renewable energy production.

With demands for renewable energy on the rise and related economic benefits and energy opportunities waiting to be realized, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s amicus brief encourages the Supreme Court of Ohio to affirm the decisions of the Board and allow the Emerson Creek wind farm project to proceed.

If you have questions regarding the effect of this appeal, or if you are interested in assistance with an appellate matter or preparation of an amicus brief, please contact the Appellate Team at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC.

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