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Friends: (03-13-14) Last night the Rushcreek Township Trustees adopted two Resolutions in opposition to Everpower’s Scioto Ridge projects. One Resolution was directed to the Ohio Power Siting Board and the other to the Logan County Commissioners with respect to possible tax abatement for Scioto Ridge. These are well researched and thorough documents that should make anyone think twice about supporting an industrial wind project in a rural residential setting much less provide tax incentives to facilitate it. The unanimously adopted resolutions are attached and we encourage you to read them.
We also recommend listening to the radio coverage from Peak of Ohio Radio Jason Dagger is interviewed for Everpower as well as Rick Kennedy for Rushcreek Twp. We will link newspaper coverage when it becomes available.
Two more letters to the Editor have appeared in the March 8 Bellefontaine Examiner. These letters respond to an earlier letter written by Jason Dagger that appeared in multiple area papers. We understand that these letters were also submitted to the Urbana Daily Citizen but they have not appeared to our knowledge.
Finally, we have three important articles that address the federal production tax credit. The first story from Bloomberg financial news describes the money companies like Google are raking in due to taxpayer funded subsidies. “Providing tax breaks to cash-rich companies distorts the market and passes costs to consumers,” according to one analyst while another estimates ½ of the profits from solar projects come from tax incentives. Against this backdrop is the issue of whether or not to end the subsidies. One very informative article from E&E News supports the notion that a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s tax laws is needed.
U.S. Rep. Dave Camp has been working on this subject for years and has introduced a comprehensive draft that would not only end the Production Tax Credit but would also scale back the amount of subsidy being received by existing wind developments. Camp’s term as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee is coming to an end and he wanted to put a proposal on the table now. It is likely that Paul Ryan will succeed Camp as Chairman of Tax & Means. Ryan has expressed support for the Camp draft. The third story reviews the landscape for Republicans relative to tax overhaul and the political implications. In the event you are really, really interested in the Washington machinations surrounding tax reform, the story from Politico is informative. The groundswell for a free market and a more fair tax system in America continues to give us hope we are seeing the end of the PTC.
(03-12-14) Today we bring you news from Logan County where the Bellefontaine Examiner reports on the Rushcreek Twp resolutions in opposition to Everpower that were adopted on Monday night.
We also attach a review of wind turbine setbacks from around the world that was conducted by the State of Minnesota. It appears that Ohio’s siting regulations are among the least protective in the world. The report notes that “For countries with required or recommended wind turbine setback distances, the average lower setback distance is approximately 470 meters (1,542 feet), and the average upper setback distance is approximately 700 meters (2,297 feet).” Interesting, too, is the discussion of shadow flicker which generally has been recommended as being limited to 30 hours per year. The Minnesota report makes it clear that 30 hours is the worst maximum allowed and that 8 hours per year of actual flicker is the more acceptable standard. Ohio uses 30 hours as their standard. It does not appear that most countries have standards for inaudible noise which has come to prominence with the increasing size of turbines. Infrasound is a significant issue and it largely absent from the Minnesota Report.
Elsewhere, concerns among farmers in Illinois and Indiana are in the news as reported here.
(03-10-14) We have three press reports to share today. First is an Editorial from Investor’s Business Daily calling for an end to the Production Tax Credit. It notes how much of the federal subsidy is paid by Ohio taxpayers but is spent in other states.
Next we have a letter to the Editor of the Columbus Dispatch from a Russells Point citizen that eloquently takes issue with last week’s writer who wrote in support of wind energy. We include with the letter the comments that follow. These comments illustrate how dumb(or is it something more sinister?) the Ohio General Assembly’s Cliff Hite-inspired foot dragging looks.
And finally we include an article from Van Wert about Iberdrola’s plans to obliterate what is left of Hoaglin, Jackson, Ridge and northwestern Washington townships. Iberdrola appears to be holding out a threat to Van Wert Commissioners that if tax abatement is not granted, they might choose their Leipsic project instead.
We are seeing a ramp up of project activity, perhaps propelled by a threatened phase out of the in-state mandate or perhaps the true end of the PTC. We think local elected officials are waking up to the fact that wind loses in every cost benefit analysis. Granting tax abatement to facilitate a bad deal for taxpayers, ratepayers, industry, property owners and wildlife is poor public policy. We salute all of you who are educating your policy makers, you who are running for office to help tackle the issue at the State level and you, our letter writers and commenters who refuse to let the pro-wind PR machine go unchallenged. Thank you.
(03-05-14) Attached are three draft letters about the PTC.
Please feel free to customize it however you’d like. I do ask, if possible, if you could email me the signed copy or let me know who all signs onto the letter. We are keeping track of how many touches we get into Speaker Boehner, Congressman Tiberi and Senator Portman’s offices. Please let me know if you have any questions and thank you for your help!
My email is linked below.
(03-02-14) We have linked to testimony given this past week by Robert Bryce to the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works. It is one of the most compelling and comprehensive reviews of the impact the wind industry is having on the bird and bat populations. Although lengthy, it should be required reading for anyone considering a cost-benefit analysis of wind power.
(03-01-14) Thank you to all who called members of Congress this week to oppose extension of the Production Tax Credit. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) big lobbying push on Tuesday was timed to get out ahead of Rep. Dave Camp’s release on Wednesday of his proposal for comprehensive tax reform. Not only would Camp not reinstate expired clean energy incentives such as the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC), he also would dramatically reduce payments to companies still eligible for the credit.” In the days to come, there will be much pulling and tugging in the Congress but it is unlikely that tax reform will move forward until after the election. In the meantime, a tax extender for a one year PTC is unlikely given the generous extension last year.
The prospect of the PTC finally going away makes the notion of protecting the Ohio mandate for wind through 2025 look almost silly. If the PTC covers 1/3 of the capital cost of wind development and it is terminated, who picks up the shortfall in Ohio? Ohio electricity consumers – families and employers. This makes Senator Cliff Hite’s position on safeguarding the mandate even less credible. It appears the race is heating up between Sen. Hite and Van Wert County’s Hoaglin Twp. Trustee Milo Schaffner. Milo is putting the pressure on and the more opportunities he has to get his message out to the press and to voters, the clearer the choice becomes for voters in the 1st Ohio Senate District. The Gongwer Report referenced above took a look at the race. We note that Hite is still trying to protect a special niche in his district irrespective of its effects on others. He continuously dodges legitimate questions about his position on wind development, especially the Constitutionality of the in-state mandate. Challenger Milo Schaffner will keep asking those hard questions.
Finally, Terra Firma is still trying to shake things up and generate enthusiasm for the upcoming €2 billion renewable infrastructure fund they are trying to launch in May. We admit we cannot understand the timing for such a fund when there is so much uncertainty about wind’s future in the US and abroad. A report released this week now documents the magnitude of manufacturing losses in Germany as a result of their now discredited energy policies.
We have to believe that Sen. Cliff Hite reads the papers and sees what has happened in Germany. Is he hoping voters in his district are too dumb to know?
(02-26-14) Yesterday the PBS station in Cleveland sponsored a debate with Sen. Seitz, Economist Jonathon Lesser, Terrence O’Donnell for Advanced Energy Ohio (and son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice) and John Colm of Cleveland-based WIRE-net. The link to the audio for those who would like to hear it. Press coverage from Columbus Business First. You will see that Senator Seitz is confident the Senate will pass some form of mandate repeal before the end of the year. There are several options under consideration for renewable energy. First would be the repeal of the in-state mandate which the Senator believes is unconstitutional. Next he proposes freezing the annual renewable benchmark at the current level and not ever increasing it. There will likely be some negotiating on this point but we will stay closely involved.
One of our readers inquired recently about what the pre-requisites are for going forward with a wind project. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that only 1 in 10 planned projects is ever built. The six key elements described by AWEA as necessary are:
■Adequate wind: Turbines usually need wind that blows at least 11 miles per hour on average. Small changes in wind speed can make a dramatic difference in the output of a wind farm.
■Land rights: Developers need to secure adequate land rights from private owners or public agencies, so lease agreements come into play.
■Permits: Developers must secure proper permits from all levels of government.
■Transmission: Access to adequate and available transmission capacity is essential, and proximity to existing lines keeps costs down.
■A buyer for the wind power: Developers must secure a utility or other entity to purchase the power generated from the wind project.
■Financing: In order to build and operate a wind farm, developers need an investor or investors.
“Each of these six elements must be secured to move a wind project from development, through construction, and into operation. Failure to successfully navigate any one of these issues can result in a shelved project. On average, only one in ten projects originally conceived by a developer will actually get constructed and put into operation. ” The last two bullet points are impacted to a great degree by whether an in-state mandate is in place. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the Ohio in-state mandate serves as a barrier to obtaining a long term power purchase agreement and/or financing.
So what about the federal Production Tax Credit that expired December 31, 2013? AWEA has gathered its lobbying army in Washington where they are receiving training today for their assault on Capitol Hill tomorrow beginning at 9:00 a.m. One of AWEA’s cheerleaders on board to support cronyism and special interest tax legislation is former Ohio Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette who went from his seat in the US House of representatives to the backroom where, as President of McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies, he lobbies his former colleagues. We think tomorrow would be a perfect time to call your Congressman’s Washington Office and express your opinion about attempts to reauthorize the PTC. Let them know that you know AWEA will be calling on them to push for favorable tax treatment. As a taxpayer, you should let your Representative know how much you oppose this corporate welfare that has propped up the wind industry for about twenty years. The PTC has died and it should stay dead. Telephone numbers for all Ohio Congressmen are listed below. The most important members for purposes of the PTC are Ways & Means Committee members Pat Tiberi and Jim Renacci.
1.Steve Chabot 202-225-2216 Small Business
2.Brad Westrup 202-225-3164 Veterans Affairs
3.Joyce Beatty 202-225-4324 Financial Services
4.Jim Jordan 202-225-2676 Oversight & Government
5.Bob Latta 202-225-6405 Energy & Commerce
6.Bill Johnson 202-225-5705 Energy & Commerce
7.Bob Gibbs 202-225-6265 Agriculture
8.John Boehner 202-225-6205
9.Marcy Kaptur 202-225-4146 Appropriations
10.Michael Turner 202-225-6465 Oversight & Government
11.Marcia Fudge 202-225-7032 Agriculture
12.Pat Tiberi 202-225-5355 Ways & Means
13.Tim Ryan 202-225-5261 Budget
14.David Joyce 202-225-5731 Appropriations
15.Steve Stivers 202-225-2015 Finance
16.Jim Renacci 202-225-3876 Ways & Means
(02-22-14) Early yesterday morning one of the turbines in northern Indiana caught fire. It was a spectacular sight which you can watch on the video link. People in the area were concerned since the flaming turbine was so close – a mile – from town. If this had happened in Champaign County, homeowners, children and seniors living nearby would have been required to evacuate their homes before dawn because, in some instances, Everpower’s setbacks are shorter than the manufacturer’s safety guidelines. Reports from the Indiana noted the relief of citizens that the fire did not happen during dry season.
The Ohio Power Siting Board approved amendments to the Buckeye I project as expected. The Springfield News Sun reports on the approval as well as the PILOT payment paid out in Van Wert which the wind industry is touting. But as Logan County’s Tom Stacy says; “”From my perspective it’s not what you get, it’s what you gave away.” The PILOT is about 20% to 25% of what would be paid without the PILOT. As we have said before, if you are going to sell your county, don’t leave money on the table. And for goodness sake, don’t take it from the residents who will have to live with the project. As UNU’s attorney says in the story, “Concerns about safety and noise for neighboring homeowners should also be considered first, regardless of potential revenue for the county, said Jack Van Kley, an attorney for UNU who has argued against the project. “No amount of money is going to compensate people for the loss of comfort in their own homes,” Van Kley said. Yesterday’s fire in Benton County, Indiana brings that message home in a truly frightening way.
But wait! Look at what is happening in Illinois where another wind project is” going up in flames” so to speak – the 240 MW Big Sky project is in trouble as Edison Mission is unable to repay the loan on the wind development made by the turbine manufacturer, Suzlon. This is an important story about another wind project in the PJM grid system which also serves Ohio. Big Sky does not have a long term power purchase agreement and sells on the spot market where it has been unable, despite grants and subsidies, to earn a sufficient return. There are similarities here between Big Sky and Everpower’s Buckeye and Scioto Ridge projects. Right now, we understand that Everpower does not have a long term power purchase agreement, does not have federal subsidies, probably does not have an investor and the spot market apparently can’t provide an attractive return in the PJM system. For these and other reasons, we very much doubt Jason Dagger’s upbeat outlook conveyed to the Springfield News Sun.
(02-12-14) We reported last week that wind industry lobbyists rushed to deny any inappropriate language in wind leases and took Senate Public Utilities Chairman Seitz to task for disclosing what they believed was confidential secret information. Sen. Seitz today forcefully disputed AWEA’s claims. Individual wind developers also replied to Senator Seitz. We attach copies of the Everpower and Iberdrola replies. If you would like a reply from a different company, please let us know. We also include coverage from today’s Springfield News Sun concerning Everpower’s Buckeye Wind project and the Ohio Supreme Court appeal.
Logan and Hardin County citizens opposing Everpower’s Scioto Ridge project will have a community information session on Monday, February 17th in Belle Center at 6:00 at the Richland Township Memorial Hall. All are encouraged to attend. An information flyer is attached.
We understand that more than 60 citizens were present today to speak against Everpower’s Scioto Ridge project at the Logan County Commissioner’s meeting. Early reports indicate the Indian Lake residents are very concerned now that they are living with Honda’s two turbines nearby. We will provide more information as we receive it.
(02-11-14) Last week we reported that the Chairman of The Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee heard from citizens that many lease agreements contained confidentiality provisions that inhibited people from speaking out if they regretted having signed a wind lease or if they were experiencing adverse impacts. Chairman Seitz requested copies of lease agreements to see for himself and, as a result, he found that the wind industry did appear to be intimidating people in contravention of their First Amendment protections under the US Constitution. He has written a letter to the lobbyist for AWEA in Ohio, Dayna Baird Payne, and is awaiting a response. We will keep you posted on what we learn. The letter and attachments are included here. It is gratifying to have Senator Seitz take up this issue and we encourage you to share the information with your local elected officials and leaseholders who may have an interest.
Excerpts from the Seitz letter to Dayna Baird Payne include:
“I am sure you agree with me that citizens have a First Amendment right to petition their government for a redress of grievances and that artificial or contractual barriers to public participation are an intolerable infringement on that right, not to mention an inhibitor to the search for truth in matters important to public policy.”
“I am also sure that I would agree with you that companies have a legitimate right to protect their confidential financial information and their legitimate trade secrets and proprietary information. However, the language in the attached documents goes vastly beyond the protection of those legitimate interests, and I can certainly see where landowners might reasonably believe they have been sworn to observe the Code of Omerta by reason of the overbroad language.”
“It is also of grave concern that the “No interference” clause (Section 9.2) requires that “Landowner’s activities …shall not, currently or in the future, impede or interfere with the siting, permitting, construction, installation, maintenance, operation, replacement, or removal of Windpower Facilities, whether located on the Property or elsewhere.” Quite conceivable, if “activities” include speech, a landowner is thereby forbidden from opining on public issues concerning the siting or operation of wind power facilities that are not even located on the leased property.”
“I therefore seek prompt written assurance from the Ohio wind power developers who have entered leases such as those described above, and AWEA, that they do not construe anything in those leases as prohibiting any landowners from testifying on either SB 34 or SB 58. Or from making any public comment on wind power or Ohio energy policy, except insofar as the landowners refrain from commenting on the financial terms of the leases they have signed and revealing such information as has been disclosed to them by the developer and which has been properly designated as a trade secret or proprietary and confidential information.”
In addition to the above, we have seen lease Agreements that specifically identify “wildlife surveys” as subject to confidentiality. This could mean if an endangered species bat like the Indiana bat was found on leased property by someone other than the developer, information about the find could not be shared. We think this is another area where “over-reach” impedes the “search for truth in matters important to public policy.” We recall that Invenergy had documented the presence of three maternal roost colonies of the protected Indiana Bat at some point after Everpower had claimed to the Ohio Power Siting Board that there was no finding of Indiana bats in the project area. Subsequently, when Everpower acquired the assets of Invenergy, the purchase agreement required Invenergy to destroy all records and documents relating to bats. Because of this, UNU was unable to discover anything concerning Indiana bats during the hearings on Champaign Wind.
(02-10-14) This week the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee reconvenes to consider proponent testimony for SB 34 to repeal Ohio’s renewable mandate. It continues to be a source of concern that Republicans on the Committee care more about taking campaign donations from wind developers and serving their special interests than supporting their constituents or for that matter the Governor of Ohio.
Please take a moment to watch Governor Kasich say what he thinks about energy mandates in this brief clip from his address to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
We are delighted to hear that Sen. Cliff Hite, the number one obstacle to repeal of the mandate, has now been challenged in the upcoming Republican primary by Van Wert County’s Hoaglin Township Trustee Milo Schaffner. Congratulations to Milo and a big thank you for stepping forward to represent the people of the 1st Senate District which includes a part of Logan, Hardin, Van Wert, Paulding and Hancock Counties.
Last week, Ohio Senate Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz lashed out at the wind industry for putting overbroad confidentiality language in leaseholder agreements. This week, AWEA sniped back at Seitz as noted in the Gongwer Report below:
“Christy Omohundro, AWEA’s director for eastern state policy, told Sen. Seitz that the wind industry was “very troubled” that he disclosed confidential and commercially sensitive information.
Along with his original letter, which was widely distributed, the chairman attached samples of actual leases including the financial terms and payments between wind developers and landowners, she said.
“Your disclosure of such information with an obvious commercial value not only hurts wind development in your state but is also bad for the business climate in Ohio. On behalf of our members, AWEA requests that in the future you respect their legitimate interest in not having their confidential and commercially sensitive contractual terms with Ohio landowners unnecessarily disclosed. Anything less creates an environment that is unfriendly to all business in Ohio,” she said.”
Really? The leases were submitted into the public record by troubled citizens.
Elsewhere, the citizens of Logan and Hardin County are making it clear to their respective County Commissioners that the costs of the Everpower Scioto Ridge project do not outweigh the alleged benefits and, for that reason, full taxation of the Everpower project is required. We will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks. Residents near Indian Lake are joining the campaign as well now that they see firsthand how the two Honda turbines impose on their community even from a distance.
Finally, we wanted to report on a court in Michigan which has ordered Consumers Wind to produce a noise mitigation plan after the County determined noise levels to be excessive. When the County attempted to enforce a noise limit, the wind company went to court to try to overrule the County. Our colleague, Kevon Martis of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition noted that “There are only two ways to reduce the noise level,” Martis said. “One would be to increase the distance between the turbines and the homes, and it is too late for that. The other is to reduce the decibel level, which would significantly increase the operating costs of the plant.” It is striking to us that when local governments attempt to enforce regulations on wind developers, the wind developer turns around and sues the local government entity. Everpower did this in Allegany, NY and Consumers has done it in Mason County, MI
(01-29-14) The is past Wednesday, the Senate Public Utilities Committee held its second hearing to consider repeal of the Ohio mandate that requires the use of wind and solar. There are three Republicans who we believe stand in the way of passage of this bill: Sen. Hite (Hardin, Auglaize, Van Wert, Paulding and part of Logan); Sen. LaRose (Cleveland area) and Sen. Eklund (Canton area). It was gratifying that many of Sen. Hite’s constituents traveled the distance to Columbus to testify and shameful that he got up and left the hearing and did not listen to one single constituent.* Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition Kevon Martis gave compelling testimony but, more important, responded brilliantly to many of the Committee’s questions. Kevon’s testimony can be seen here and the questioning begins at 9:23. It is worth watching.
The press coverage was mixed and we include it here and here. Chairman Seitz made two important points during questioning 1) his belief the Ohio mandate is unconstitutional and 2) measurement of setbacks from homes instead of property lines is unheard of in zoning. One point that was made repeatedly was the cost of renewable energy and that it is not right to enforce a mandate that requires Ohioans to pay more for their electricity especially when that type of energy has such low value. Yesterday, the PUCO issued a draft report on the renewable mandate confirming the higher costs of in-state wind and solar. News coverage is provided below and the full report is attached.
Finally, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes both had good articles this week which we share in the hope that this mainstream media coverage indicates a growing national rejection of wind. Diane and Julie
* Our friends from Hite’s district may wish to know that Hite presumably left to attend a meeting of the Education Committee which convened at 4:00 to consider: HB 111 Duffey, 1st Hearing, Sponsor
State universities-student trustees-vote/ attend executive sessions; HB 342 Brenner/Driehaus, Informal Hearing (pending referral), Sponsor Straight A Program-educational service center eligible for grant/project goals; SB 167 Tavares, 3rd Hearing, Proponent/Opponent/Interested Party School district policies – violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior. While these topics may have been of interest to Sen. Hite, we do not believe they merited the discourtesy of ignoring constituents who traveled far to testify.
(01-28-14) The prestigious London School of Economics has concluded a 12 year study which proves the obvious: wind turbines devalue property. A draft of the study has been circulated and the final report is due to be released next month. A new report from the British media with Proof wind turbines take thousands off your home is attached.
(01-27-14) Testimony on SB 34 …
Yes it is true, I testified last Wed. at the State House in Columbus representing not only my beliefs, but also to let them know what “ANU” has been fighting for since Jan. of 2012. I also let them know that if the need ever arises again, we will be ready to fight this battle again, just as HARD & as QUICKLY……… as we did the first time. Don’t want them to think we are going away anytime soon. It may be too late to testify this week now, but I believe you still have time for next week’s hearing yet. Email ANU if you are interested and I will hook you up with Julie Johnson or Tom Stacy. Two great people!
I will say…….. it was interesting to say the least. I would recommend everyone doing this at least once in their lifetime, and yes…….. now may be the time. Here is your chance to be heard! Help defend your health and your property, while the option is still there.
Have a great evening. Try to stay warm!!!
(01-15-14) You are invited to testify!
The testimony for proponents of Ohio Senate Bill 34 before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, January 22, at 2:30 PM in the Senate Finance Hearing Room in the Ohio Statehouse.
The bill is a TOTAL REPEAL of the renewable and energy efficiency mandates that were made law in 2008. This may be the only hearing on the bill and it is important for impacted citizens to testify in order to educate the Committee that the costs are high and the benefits are low. The human cost in terms of injury to health, property value and wildlife is not outweighed by any alleged benefit to Ohio citizens or ratepayers. The only entity benefiting are leaseholders and investors – some of whom are foreign. Your personal story about your situation is important. Julie Johnson and Tom Stacy are happy to help you. Your testimony only needs to be brief – two or three pages at most. It must be written and the Committee will need a number of copies.
Please complete the attached witness slip and return it as soon as possible to the bill sponsor, Senator Kris Jordan’s chief of staff, Ron.Puff. This is necessary to reserve a spot on the witness list.
Your testimony, addressing “Chairman Seitz, Vice Chairman LaRose, Ranking member Gentile, and Members of the Senate Public Utilities Committee”, as a proponent of SB 34 (repeal of the mandates) would be perfect!
If you will testify, please contact Tom Stacy at (937) 407-6258 OR email Julie Johnson .
Our best shot to defeat the Scioto Ridge project proposed for Hardin and Logan Counties is through changes in Ohio law!
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