About the OPSB
The Ohio Power Siting Board (Board or OPSB) was created on November 15, 1981, by amended Substitute House Bill 694 as a separate entity within the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. The authority of the Board is outlined in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 4906.
Our mission is to support sound energy policies that provide for the installation of energy capacity and transmission infrastructure for the benefit of the Ohio citizens, promoting the state's economic interests, and protecting the environment and land use.
What types of projects fall under OPSB jurisdiction?
Before construction can begin on any major utility facility or economically significant wind farm within the state of Ohio, a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need must be obtained from the OPSB. The Ohio Revised Code defines a major utility facility as an electric generating plant with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more; an electric transmission line and associated facilities of 125 kilovolts (kV) or more; or a gas pipeline that is greater than 500 feet in length, more than nine inches in outside diameter, and designed for transporting gas at a maximum allowable operating pressure in excess of 125 pounds per square inch. The statute defines economically significant wind farm as wind turbines and associated facilities with a single interconnection to the electric grid and designed for, or capable of, operation at an aggregate capacity of 5 or more MW but less than 50 MW.
Who serves on the Ohio Power Siting Board?
Membership of the Board is specified in ORC Section 4906.02(A). The Board is comprised of 11 members, seven who vote and four who are non-voting members. The members include:
The public member, who must be an engineer, is appointed by the Governor from a list of nominees provided by the Ohio Consumers' Counsel. The four non-voting members are legislators -- two from the Ohio House of Representatives and two from the Ohio Senate.
The OPSB staff is drawn from the member agencies’ staff and coordinates its work with other state and federal agencies with a stake in siting activities.
How does the OPSB process applications for major utility facilities?
Facilities under the OPSB’s jurisdiction fall into one of three application categories based upon their size, purpose and operating characteristics:
- Certificate applications, designated by the BGN (generator), BTX (transmission) or BSB (substation) purpose code, are processed by the OPSB using the “standard” application process. These projects are typically larger facilities and include economically significant wind farms and most other electric generating facilities, as well as most electric transmission lines more than two miles in length and most gas pipelines more than five miles in length. The standard application process for certificate applications is described in this flowchart and in greater detail below.
- Letters of notification (BLN), and
- Construction notices (BNR) are processed by the OPSB using the accelerated application process. These projects are typically smaller in size and are most often electric transmission lines of two miles or less and gas pipelines of five miles or less. The accelerated application process is described in greater detail here.
The OPSB’s rules provide an these application requirement matrices to guide project developers to determine the appropriate type of application to file.
How can I see a copy of the application, staff report or other legal filings?
Legal notices for all applications are published in newspapers in those areas impacted by the proposed facility. The legal notice must include a listing of area libraries where a copy of the application may be viewed. All applications, staff reports, and other filings can be viewed online. Each application is assigned a case number. Contact us if you are unable to find the case you are looking for..
Who is involved in the siting process?
Parties to each case include the applicant, the technical staff of the Board, and other persons or entities that have requested and been granted intervener status.
- The applicant has the burden to prove that the application meets the statutory requirements and should be approved.
- Interveners are persons or entities who wish to participate in the evidentiary hearing by presenting pre-filed testimony and/or evidence and cross examining other parties’ witnesses. To be an intervener one must file a request in the case by the deadline set in the case.
- The Board staff investigates the application and files a report of investigation in the case. The staff report serves only as a recommendation, and the Board members have the final say in the siting of each project.
How can I participate in the process?
Before filing a certificate application to build a major utility facility, the Applicant is required to hold a public informational meeting. The purpose of this meeting is for company representatives to inform stakeholders about plans to file an application with the OPSB. The meeting also serves as an opportunity to gather public input and hear the public’s concerns, which the company considers in developing its application.
Once the company submits its application for the new facility, the OPSB staff scrutinizes the plan, makes a formal request for comments from other agencies and parties, and then makes a recommendation to the full Board. After the OPSB staff makes its recommendation, formal public hearings are held. These hearings enable citizens, interest groups and governmental entities to present testimony.
Once a case has been officially filed with the Board, Board members are, by law, precluded from discussing the substance of the case with any party until the Board issues its decision. Interested persons are encouraged to submit written comments to the Docketing Division, 180 E. Broad Street, 11th floor, Columbus, OH 43215, and to attend the scheduled public hearing. Submissions should include the case number.
What is the difference between a local public hearing and an adjudicatory hearing?
The purpose of the local public hearing is to gather sworn statements concerning the application from members of the affected public who are not actual parties to the case. This hearing provides the Board with information about the reaction of the local community to the proposed application and becomes part of the official record that the Board considers before making its decision. A court reporter is present at each local hearing to transcribe all of the sworn statements, testimony, and exhibits presented.
The purpose of the adjudicatory hearing is to allow parties to the case to provide sworn pre-filed testimony and cross examine witnesses. This hearing forms the adjudicatory record that the Board will consider in arriving at its formal decision on the case.
Because the two hearings serve separate functions, no person (including any person who has been granted intervention) is allowed to testify at both the local public hearing and the adjudicatory hearing. A person may only testify at the local hearing on behalf of an intervener, if the intervener agrees, on the record, to withdraw as an intervener.
What happens after the hearings are complete?
Once the local public hearing and adjudicatory hearing are complete, the parties may be allowed to make closing statements or file briefs. Once that process is completed, the ALJ will draft a proposed decision for consideration by the Board. This process can take up to 90 days after completion of the record depending on the case.
Once the draft proposal is ready, the ALJ will provide it to the Board for consideration at one of its scheduled agenda meetings. The Board meets monthly, as needed, to consider draft proposals. Once the Board issues its decision, parties have 30 days to seek an appeal of the decision with the Board. If an appeal is filed, the Board then has 30 days from the date the appeal is filed to rule on the request for appeal.
How does the OPSB make its decision?
By law, the OPSB must find and determine eight criteria including:
- The probable environmental impact of the proposed facility;
- Whether the facility represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, considering available technology and the nature and economics of alternatives;
- The need for any transmission facility;
- That the facility is consistent with regional plans for expansion of the electric power grid of the electric systems serving Ohio and interconnected systems and that the facility will serve the interests of electric system economy and reliability;
- That the facility will comply with all air and water pollution and solid waste disposal laws and regulations;
- The facility will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity;
- The facility's impact on the continued agricultural viability of any land in an existing agricultural district; and
- The facility incorporates maximum feasible water conservation practices considering available technology and the nature and economics of various alternatives.