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Latest Local News:
Power Siting Board approves extension motion
OPSB extends wind certificate
Setback changes will end new wind farms in Ohio
$2.2 Billion Solar Death Trap
Wind dies down in Howard County
Friends: (08-26-14) Consistent with expectations, the Ohio Power Siting Board approved motions to extend the deadlines for the Buckeye Wind I project to May, 2018 and Hardin Wind Energy LLC to March, 2018. The Hardin County project was not opposed. The Buckeye Wind project was opposed by Champaign County, Urbana, Goshen and Union Townships as well as Union Neighbors United. It is interesting to note that in trying to justify a need for extension, Invenergy blamed its Hardin County difficulties on the market while Jason Dagger of Everpower blamed the community’s efforts to protect its interests through litigation. It is anticipated that the Board’s Order approving the Everpower extension will be appealed.
The Greenwich Windpark project was approved despite the contention that the public did not have adequate opportunity to comment on the project. Sen. Skindell, a non-voting member of the OPSB, spoke on behalf of the opponents and questioned whether the staff had considered the merits of the public’s concerns. A spokesperson for the OPSB affirmed that the staff had noted the public comments but was not persuaded by them. Sen. Skindell (D-Lakewood) then asked whether the Staff of the OPSB had been informed by any wind developer that the recently enacted legislation eliminating the in-state renewable energy mandate or the legislation changing measurement of wind turbine setbacks would prevent any developer from going forward. The response from the staff was that they had not heard of any developer who was unable to go forward due to legislative changes. We are reminded of Senator Skindell’s previous worries that wind development would be stopped in Ohio as reported last June by Green Energy Ohio (see link to story above). It appears that his fears were not well-founded.
We continue to appreciate the ongoing interest and support of the community in this never-ending effort to protect our local economy, our families and our environment. Today’s actions are a disappointment to many but it is not the end of the road… only a bump.
(08-24-14) This week wind developer, Invenergy, was sued by people living near its Orangeville Wind Farm in New York. The attorney representing the residents is the same person who sued over the Love Canal contamination years ago. It is interesting to note that Invenergy dismisses the action by stating they meet the existing rules and regulations. We often see inadequate siting laws established at the behest of the wind industry and, when problems result, wind developers act as if the deficient standards were established by an independent entity unrelated to them. We are reminded that the proposed Buckeye Wind Phase II development was initially an Invenergy project. The Hardin Wind Energy LLC project in Hardin County is also an Invenergy project.
We have attached a recent press release issued by the Greenwich Neighbors United in Huron County to announce that the school board has voted to oppose the project. The school board states: “Although the schools in the community would benefit from the tax dollars of the wind turbines, the school board feels that the detrimental impact on the community and the school children far outweigh any tax benefit. ” The OPSB will consider the Greenwich project at its Monday meeting.
Elsewhere, the cancellation of three industrial wind projects in Alabama and Indiana are being celebrated by their communities. Perhaps wind developers will begin to seek out remote areas for their projects and understand that rural does not mean “remote”.
(08-22-14) In a late breaking move, attorneys for an adjacent non-participating property owner in Huron County have filed a request to intervene in the Greenwich Park wind application which is scheduled to be approved on Monday. This is unusual in that the time allowed for a party to seek intervenor status is far past but this late request to intervene seems compelling. In the attached motion, Omega, a company owning 1,200 acres next to the proposed wind development disputes the developer’s claims that there is no opposition to the project. They point out that public notice was given in the local press on December 23, 24 and 27th when the public attention was directed to the holidays and the local public hearing in May was held right in the middle of planting season when rural residents were unavailable.
Also important to note is that, in its staff report in support of the project, the OPSB refers to Ohio’s in-state mandate for renewable energy. However, this mandate was repealed and cannot serve as a basis for approval of the project. The request to intervene also asserts considerable public opposition to the project and makes reference to correspondence filed by members of the public as well as State Senator Manning, Ohio Rep. Terry Boose and Senator Bill Seitz. Technical difficulties at the OPSB prevented us from obtaining copies of these letters. The upshot of this seems to call into question the extent to which the OPSB accords due process to the public. Due process – or the lack it – is central to concerns raised in Everpower and Hardin Wind’s attempts to extend the expiration dates of their projects. All three will be on the OPSB’s Monday agenda.
Elsewhere, the federal Production Tax Credit extension continues to be the subject of much speculation. In a recent energy trade paper column, A Word About Wind, the following was reported:
What will happen to US wind after 2016? That is the question that lingers unanswered as Republicans and Democrats in Congress fight over the wind production tax credit (PTC).
The wind PTC is a subsidy regime that supports the construction of wind farms. It expired at the end of 2013 and, despite plans from the Democrats to reintroduce it earlier this year as part of a tax extenders bill, this was scuppered by Republicans in Congress.
There is no sign of the Republicans backing down. On 13 August, Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo led a group of 54 members of Congress in calling for a permanent end of the PTC. It called the PTC one of the “most anti-competitive and economically harmful tax provisions”, and said even a one-year extension would cost US taxpayers around $13.4bn.
This makes the 2013 edition of the US Department of Energy’s ‘Wind Technologies Market Report’, which was published earlier this week, more interesting than most. For one thing, it shows how split opinion is about what will happen to the PTC and what this would mean.
Consultancies IHS and MAKE respectively forecast that 8.4GW and 5.1GW of extra wind capacity would be added in 2016, with both assuming that the PTC would be extended for 2016. But Bloomberg New Energy Finance and Navigant based their forecasts, of 3.6GW and 2.8GW added respectively, on the assumption that there would be no PTC extension.
In May, we said we expected the PTC to be extended for 2016. Given subsequent battles in Congress we now think this is less likely – although, like those working in the US, we simply don’t know. Uncertainty like this can never be good for the market.
But our overriding feeling from the energy departments 96-page report is that there are actually a lot of reasons to be positive, PTC or no PTC.
The funding of projects held steady in 2013 due to the low level of activity, but has picked up this year. Investors appear confident that sufficient capital will be available to finance projects, and several investors – including NRG, Pattern and NextEra – have spun-off yieldcos as a way to raise capital from public equity markets.
Wind energy is also looking more competitive. The cost of energy in wind PPAs reached an all-time low of $25/MWh nationwide, compared with $70/MWh in 2009. This must be good news for wind as it is in competition with other energy sources including shale gas.
And the cost of turbines has also dropped by around $600/kW since 2009 and 2010, to now around $1,630/kWh, although this was partly due to the limited number of projects that were completed in 2013. Again, this can only help the wind sector to compete.
We don’t believe the US wind sector is in the midst of a boom, but this report also shows that it isn’t all doom and gloom.
(08-20-14) The Ohio Power Siting Board has placed three industrial wind items on its Agenda for August 25th. Everpower’s request to extend the expiration of its Phase I certificate by means of a motion without a hearing or public input will be considered. UNU, Champaign County and the townships all filed objections to the motion. (See today’s Springfield News Sun) Invenergy has also requested an extension of its certificate for their development in Hardin County. Like Everpower, Invenergy made its request by Motion to avoid a hearing. Invenergy’s request for a 36 month extension does not appear to have been challenged by anyone with the exception of one citizen. The third project is Windlab Development’s proposal to place 2.4 MW Nordex turbines in Huron County.
In news from Scotland, the government has announced it will conduct an investigation into low frequency sounds from wind turbines and their effect on health and wellbeing. A number of people in that country are questioning why there are no standards for these emissions. Elsewhere in Scotland, Everpower owner Terra Firma (which also has significant ownership interests in wind company Infinis), has announced Infinis has put off decisions on building two projects totaling 98MW until impact of the Scottish independence referendum is clear. People in Scotland are due to vote on 18 September about whether the country should remain part of the UK. Infinis said it would not start work on its 55MW Galawhistle or 48MW A’Churach projects in Scotland until it knew the vote result and its impact on energy policy. Infinis stock continues to decline.
(08-06-14) In the course of Everpower’s efforts to extend the expiration date of their certificate of approval to build the first phase of Buckeye Wind, there is much going back and forth. While Urbana Township and Champaign County were able to meet the deadline for objecting to Everpower’s request, Goshen and Union Townships requested an extension of ten days to file their comment because they needed to take action on the record at their meetings last night. Attached is Everpower’s motion to deny Goshen and Union Township the opportunity to object and to deny their request for an extra 10 days to get their comments in. Everpower asserts that the rules are the rules and they should be enforced. It is ironic then that Everpower on August 4th, files a Motion for a Waiver of the OPSB rules that would require them to file an application to amend their certificate. This motion is attached. Everpower asks that the procedural rules not only be suspended on their behalf but that the Ohio Power Siting Board expedite action on Everpower’s behalf.
In seeking to justify why the County, townships, UNU or anyone else should be denied the right to object to the extension of the deadline for Buckeye I, Everpower argues “Neither justice nor efficiency nor economy would be served by further work elevating form over substance.” “Protracted delays due to extensive briefing of procedural issues that are not material to the substance involved are contrary to a policy of facilitating a just, efficient and inexpensive determination of the matter.” Everpower is arguing that it will cost the Ohio Power Siting Board money to process an application so why not just waive the requirement they submit one? They claim it would be just ‘more efficient’ to grant their motion and forget the due process that the community is entitled to. This certainly raises questions on what kind of a “community partner” Everpower would be if the project is ever built.
(07-31-14) This week objections to Everpower’s motion to extend the 2015 deadline for building the Buckeye I wind facility to 2018 were submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board by Champaign County, Urbana Township and Union Neighbors Untied. The objections all raised the procedural requirement that amendments to the certificate of approval must be requested through filing an application and holding a hearing. Everpower appears to be trying to skirt a hearing by having filed a motion instead of an application. One big difference between a motion and an application is that the public is denied the opportunity to comment on a motion. Champaign County and Urbana Township make the further point that in the hearing for Buckeye II, every attempt by the County, City or UNU to question the cumulative effects of Buckeye I and Buckeye II projects on a combined basis were prevented by Everpower. As an example, efforts to determine how noise levels would be affected by the combination of the two projects were denied. Everpower had successfully argued that Buckeye I and Buckeye II were two entirely separate projects. They are now trying to act as if they are one in the same.
We note also that some citizens filed objections to Everpower’s motion further supporting the need for a hearing. All of the letters and documents in the case can be accessed at the Ohio Power Siting Board link above. We have attached the County’s Memorandum in Opposition.
In Mercer County, Apex, the developer for the proposed Long Prairie facility ignores the Resolution adopted by the Mercer Township Trustees Association in opposition to wind development anywhere in Mercer County and claims they are optimistic about going forward. They blame Governor Kasich despite widespread community opposition. In response, ” Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich’s office, said the setbacks were created to protect property value and human health. “Every industry has rules and provisions,” he said. “This office sees this industry as no different than any other.” Notwithstanding, Apex claims to be working toward changing the law. Van Wert Township Trustee, Milo Shaffner, is quoted as saying: “They are very unsightly to begin with,” he said. “The sound they make is so disturbing, it sounds like a jet plane going overhead. My wife and I can’t sit on our front porch and drink coffee in the mornings anymore.” Schaffner said his quality of life has “gone down the drain” since the turbines arrived. “We used to have a great landscape to look at,” he said. “Our roads are ruined, my neighbors have health issues. Those turbines are industry and this is supposed to be farm country. They don’t belong here.”
And in Toledo, the incessant drumbeat of the Toledo Blade continues advocate for mandates. Wind lobbyist Terrence O’Donnell is quoted in an article below: “But lobbyists such as Terrence O’Donnell , a Columbus attorney from the global law firm of Dickinson Wright, said it’s doable if he and other advocates find the right balance of political diplomacy. They want to ensure Ohio’s new two-year freeze on renewable energy mandates for utilities becomes just that – a timeout from requirements set forth under a 2008 law and not a backdoor strategy to repeal it after this fall’s gubernatorial election.”
A new report from Germany would take the opposite view as the Germans warn: “Finally, the report highlights how large-scale deployment of renewable capacity does not translate into a substantial displacement of thermal capacity. Because wind and solar are intermittent resources, there are many hours in the year during which most generation still needs to come from thermal power plants in Germany. The stopgap role and the corresponding lower capacity factor of thermal power increased costs per units of power produced, and in the long run will increase the price of conventionally produced power. This also affects the technical efficiency of traditional generation plants, given that these plants are designed to operate as consistent, baseload generators, not as cycling units.”
On Tuesday, August 5th, a town meeting will be held at the Armory in Kenton at 128 North Main Street. The doors open at 6:30 and the meeting begins at 7:00.
(07-27-14) More than a month ago we learned that Everpower intended to close its Bellefontaine office on or about August 1st. At the time, the Bellefontaine Examiner called to verify the story and Jason Dagger denied it. On July 22nd, Everpower’s Dagger and Mike Pullins sent a letter to Buckeye Wind Leaseholders (page two) advising them that the local office is indeed closing and the Pittsburgh office will handle any related business. The letter goes on to say Dagger and Pullins will continue to be available locally and that an “operations and maintenance facility” will open when construction begins. In the meantime, they express concern over the “uncertainty” caused by the renewable energy freeze and the elimination of the in-state mandate (SB 310) as well as the threat of new setback requirements. Everpower believes the change in setback language was enacted without any “qualified experts” like the wind industry. They assert that the language implementing new setbacks is “unclear” but could impact Buckeye I, Buckeye II and Scioto Ridge. Notwithstanding, Dagger and Pullins remain optimistic that the projects will go forward but warn that “LANDOWNER AND COMMUNITY SUPPORT IS MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER.” They ask for a demonstration of “strong community support” and state:
“The more that is demonstrated by public officials, the better the investment environment for Everpower. We encourage you, your family and friends to reach out to your local officials and share your support of the projects and ask that they take a public stand in support of the projects.”
We do not know what this plea for support means. We do know that Pullins and Dagger have asked the Union, Urbana and Goshen township trustees to withdraw their lawsuit filed in the Ohio Supreme Court on July 16th. They have attended Township Trustee meetings recently to vigorously argue for a negotiation rather than a court action. The County and the Townships current appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court makes the case that Everpower was unlawfully granted amendments to their certificate without a hearing. This is important to understand because it appears they are trying to do it again by filing a motion to extend the deadline of their certificate of approval. Under the current certificate of approval, Everpower must commence construction by March 22, 2015. By attempting to obtain an extension by motion instead of an application, Everpower eliminates the opportunity for the public to comment. If Everpower is required to file an application seeking an extension, the public would have an opportunity to comment. More important, if the Ohio Power Siting Board were required to hold a hearing on the request for an extension, it likely would not hold the hearing before the new setbacks become effective on September 15th.
If you have an opportunity to let the Township Trustees and County Commissioners know you support their appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. If you believe an application should be required for Everpower’s certificate extension, please tell them now. If you would like to write to the Ohio Power Siting Board to request a hearing on the extension of Everpower’s certificate, you can email the OPSB and you must reference the case number Case No.: 08-0666-EL-BGN. Written comments can be mailed to Ohio Power Siting Board, 180 E. Broad Street, Columbus Ohio 43215 and you must include the case number.
(07-26-14) We share two reports. The first from The Economist discusses the work of the Brookings Institute that concludes wind and solar are the most expensive means by which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and government policy should focus on reducing emissions rather than trying to boost certain kinds of renewable energy. This article is not easy to understand but provides one of the clearest explanations of why wind development is not in the best interests of Ohio ratepayers. We hope the legislative study committee will look at this issue.
Second, we include a good review of the American Bird Conservancy’s efforts to fight the issuance of 30 year kill permits for eagles. This article practically reads like a novel about government corruption!
(07-25-14) There has been a somewhat quiet consolidation of wind developments in Ohio and Indiana this year and we are just now beginning to see the bigger picture. Wind projects in various stages of development across Ohio have been sold to Apex. We will be seeing and hearing more about Apex in the days to come. Could they have been surprised by the change in property line setbacks and the renewable mandate freeze? If not, they may become buyers for other projects in Ohio as other developers threaten to leave the state. Who is Apex? Our research indicates they are a subsidiary of Greenlight Energy Resources which, in turn, appears to be connected to BP Alternative Energy.
It is often difficult to sort through ownership of wind facilities/leases. In the case of Apex, there seems to have been little publicity. The “press releases” quoted below are the complete texts we could find. It seems the announcements may not have even been sent to the media in the areas where the acquired projects are located. Lack of transparency is nothing new in the world of industrial wind but a new law in Kentucky may begin to change that. Earlier this year the Kentucky legislature passed a law that requires a wind developer to announce when they intend to work in an area and, in some cases, send letters to property owners advising them of their interest in the area. We understand that that the public notice must be given before wind leases are signed. In addition, prior to submitting an application to the state, the local community can request a public meeting to review the proposed application. Another article indicates that NextEra and Duke Renewables both abandoned Kentucky projects when required to give the public more information about their plans. Perhaps they thought educated property owners would not sign wind leases. Hmmm……. Read local comments.
(07-18-14) Lots to report as news of Everpower’s request to amend their Buckeye Wind I project deadline hits the paper in both Urbana and Springfield. On one hand Everpower appears determined to press on while on the other hand they appear cautious. This compares to Iberdrola who has determined that they will be unable to find enough willing leaseholders in Van Wert and Putnam Counties to make their Dog Creek and Leipsic Wind projects possible due to the new setback requirements. As we have seen, there is resistance in Putnam County but on Tuesday the County Commissioners went ahead and approved the County as an Alternative Energy Zone thinking it might help. We will be interested to hear more about this. We recall that Van Wert County rescinded its AEZ designation. (Note: We are amazed that the wind industry calls the setback area the “fall zone” – completely ignoring blade shear, flicker and noise issues! See the Norwalk Reflector story.)
By seeking to extend its deadline to build until 2018, it appears that Everpower hopes to dodge the effects of both recently passed legislation. By amending their certificate prior to September 14th, they avoid the possibility the new setback requirements on Phase I would apply to them and by moving the extension to 2018, they have a chance to see the re-imposition of a renewable energy mandate after the legislative Study Committee completes its work. The Urbana paper reports: “The motion further states that even if the appeals are resolved prior to March 22, 2015, the company will be left with insufficient time to finalize financing, develop final engineering plans, complete engineering, obtain procurement and construction contracts, and review plans with the board’s staff.”
As Champaign County approaches time for the County Fair, work is underway by Erin Hennigan and Amy Blanton to again host a wind education and public outreach booth. Many will recall the wonderful effort put forth by these dedicated people last year. They consistently had more people crowding around their small booth than Everpower had at their corporate display. Erin and Amy have asked that we put the call out for volunteers. Please consider whether you might have three hours to contribute to the cause, or if you would like to make a donation, contact Erin to volunteer. Please consider helping us out! Last year it was pretty great to hear people’s stories and see how much support we have. Everpower was pretty unsettled by our booth! The fair runs from August 1-8th. It remains critically important to continue the education of our community.
(07-16-14) It was gratifying to read that while Governor Kasich is out and about during this campaign season, he is defending the new property line setbacks which will become effective September 14th. The Columbus Dispatch reports the Governor “defended the increased setback restrictions on wind turbines by saying, “Private property rights are important. People choose to live somewhere. You just don’t go in there and disrupt their life.” The Dispatch goes on to note that “Energy has emerged as a key difference between Kasich and Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald.”
Defense of safe setbacks that respect property lines comes at a time when fire hazards are being studied. The Financial Times reports that “Wind farms have long been blamed for blighting views and killing birds but now it is claimed they are also a bigger fire hazard than commonly thought. About one wind turbine fire a month is reported publicly around the world but that is “just the tip of the iceberg”, according to Guillermo Rein of London’s Imperial College, co-author of research estimating that the actual number of blazes could be 10 times higher.”…”The results surprised us a lot,” Mr. Rein said, explaining that he and colleagues found information about the extent of turbine fires was often incomplete or not publicly available.” During the Buckeye Wind Phase II case, the Ohio Power Siting Board sided with Everpower’s attorneys when they objected to UNU’s efforts to enter accident and fire information into the case record.
Yesterday, Champaign County and the Townships filed an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court protesting the OPSB’s failure to hold a hearing on amendments to the Buckeye Wind project. This filing comes at the same time that Everpower is seeking an extension to their certificate of approval for Phase I.
We also include another press report about the community education meeting in Bellefontaine. Speakers included Tom Stacy who addressed the economics of the project and concluded “the money that is returned in the form of local taxes and leases to local landowners is a small portion of the tax money the wind development companies are taking out of the state, Mr. Stacy said. “If we think schools are underfunded and this is a way to address that, there is a better way to do that than to give a company from outside the country 95 percent of the tax money and let them return the other 5 percent to the schools and local government.” Philip Morse, a mechanical engineer also spoke at the meeting and asserted, “Wind turbines do not generate energy when wind speeds are less than 8 miles per hour and when wind speeds are too high they are constantly using energy to operate the braking systems or can shut down entirely, the engineer said. “The name of the game is not about engineering or power production. It is about something else that other people are better prepared to answer than I am,” Mr. Morse said. “On an industrial scale like this, these things are going to be energy suckers – feed me your money; feed me your power. “Wind turbines are not alternative energy sources,” he said. “They are lackluster supplemental energy at best.”
(07-15-14) Last night Logan County’s Fight the Wind leaders held a public information session on Everpower’s Scioto Ridge Project. You can watch the Lima television coverage here. The meeting was also covered on Columbus News.
As citizens in Logan County were educating themselves about the Everpower project planned for Logan and Hardin Counties, two requests for extension were filed. Everpower submitted a request for an extension of Phase I of the Buckeye Wind I project until March of 2018. The certificate issued for this phase is due to expire in March, 2015. A request for extension of Hardin Wind, LLC was also filed. This project was originally an Invenergy development but we believe it was acquired by Everpower and consolidated into the Scioto Ridge project. The recent budget bill which contained language revising setbacks makes the new setbacks applicable to new projects as well as to currently approved projects that request amendments. An extension would presumably be an amendment triggering new setback requirements. However, the new setbacks provisions do not become effective until September 15th and so it is unclear at this point how the Ohio Power Siting Board will regard these requests.
We also include a very misinformed Editorial from the Lima News who think electricity is generated with foreign oil and that wind turbines are no different than tall trees. The failure of the media to understand the issues surrounding wind development keeps the public in the dark. It is for this reason that educational efforts such as those last night in Logan County are so very important.
(07-14-14) The “silly season” of election politics gets underway full steam now that we are past the 4th of July celebrations. Ed Fitzgerald, Democratic candidate for Governor, leads off with a campaign promise to repeal Senate Bill 310 freezing Ohio’s renewable mandates during a two year
study period and he promises to “undo” the recent extensions of wind turbine setbacks measured from property lines. We suggest that as you visit your county fairs this summer, stop by the Democratic Party tent and ask for the studies on which candidate Fitzgerald bases his policies.
Engage his campaign staff in a discussion of health impacts and see what they know. Ask them what safety documents underpin his support for the proximity of industrial wind turbines to homes.
Speaking of property line setbacks, following last year’s adoption of both property line setbacks and required property value guarantees by the Tipton County, Indiana Board of Zoning Appeals, wind developer Juwi sued the county. Juwi claimed the Board’s actions made this late stage wind project difficult to build. But now Juwi has issued a press release announcing
“the continuing litigation costs and indefinite time period associated with pursuing the permits through litigation no longer make sense for the company.” Juwi will abandon the Kokomo area project.
And lastly, we caught up with the latest reports on Everpower’s owner, Guy Hands, CEO of Terra Firma Capital Partners. Yesterday, investigators from the U.K.’s The Independent newspaper released their findings that British taxpayers have provided millions in subsidy to Terra Firma through the UK
Export Finance agency courtesy of a crony deal between Hands and his friend, the UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague. The story’s focus is on the point that tax dodging companies are not supposed to get taxpayer subsidies.
Hmmmm… The Terra Firma subsidiary in this instance is AWAS an airplane leasing business located at an address in the Cayman Islands shared by 18,000 other businesses and referred to by President Obama as “either the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam in the world”.
The Independent goes on to quote the British Prime Minister who ” pledged to crack down on companies avoiding tax, saying: “Companies need to wake up and smell the coffee, because the customers who buy from them have had enough.”
Indeed. During our season of US Independence Day celebration, it is ironic to reflect on how much we have in common with our British cousins – we are both fed up with public subsidy and a rigged system that favors special interests. Terra Firma is front and center both here and abroad. Seems like Mr. Hands is in everybody’s pocket!
(07-13-14) This week Everpower spoke on the record to the Springfield News Sun about their future plans. Everpower spokesman, Michael Speerscheider, had this to say:
” It’s still too early to say whether the legislation will mean the end of the Buckeye wind farm,” said Michael Speerschneider, a spokesman for Everpower. The project is in jeopardy because the state legislation will freeze current mandates for renewable energy, he said, making it harder to find a buyer for the electricity produced by the turbines. Everpower doesn’t have a timeline for when it will decide whether to move ahead or kill the projects. “It’s very early,” Speerschneider said. “We’re still trying to figure out what it all means and if we can work through it. It could very well be something that leads to having a lot more difficulty in completing the projects.”
The American Wind Energy Association (“AWEA”) stated they plan to be actively engaged in the process of the new legislative Study Committee and their spokesman states “We’d say it starts a two-year debate and we plan to win the debate,” Kelley said. “I don’t think we can afford to wait two years.”
Meanwhile, Senator Keith Faber states in the article that: “The renewable mandates might make sense, he said, but the state needs to determine whether the wind farms are a good investment for consumers.
“They’re getting multiple subsidies,” Faber said of the wind farms. “The question is when is enough enough and when should they be viable.”
This is the first time we have heard Senator Faber express concern about the subsidies that federal and Ohio taxpayers and ratepayers have paid out to support wind development. Under current law, renewable energy is eligible to seek local tax abatement of the public utility personal property tax for projects where construction begins prior to January 1, 2019. But we believe the mandate is also a form of subsidy so it is difficult to understand exactly what Senator Faber means. On more than one occasion, Everpower has expressed concern over whether they could go forward without the federal Production Tax credit, or whether failure to be granted PILOT payments would make the project infeasible. Those two issues didn’t come up in the context of today’s story even though the PTC is currently expired and Everpower has yet to make application for PILOT in Champaign County.
In the meantime, Everpower’s local team of Jason Dagger and Michael Pullins were busy advising the Champaign County Commissioners on local economic development. In a public hearing to which only four members of the public went, Dagger and Pullins comprised ½ of the “public”. They opined as follows:
“Buckeye Wind Farm Project Manager Jason Dagger said this was a tremendous asset to move money back toward economic development. “I would encourage you to move more (money) towards economic development if there’s ever the possibility to do that because I think that is a driver for this county,” Dagger said. “We need to see groundbreakings in general. Whether they’re renewable energy or general businesses that need to expand in the community, we need to see folks out there attracting them in here and showing the assets that we have.” EverPower Consultant Mike Pullins suggested the county should partner with surrounding counties to leverage resources toward economic development.”
Could they be working on warming up the Commission for their plea for tax abatement as a “driver” for their debatable economic development? Linked here is a thought provoking article in the context of whether wind development is a benefit or a harm to a community. A farmer from Illinois speaks out about many of the harms to his community.
(07-02-14) First we would like to thank everyone who signed on to the letter of thanks to Governor Kasich, Senate President Faber and Speaker of the House William Batchelder. The letter carried with it a whopping 684 signatures! Julie Johnson had an opportunity to speak to Governor Kasich the day the letter was sent and was able to emphasize to him how many potentially impacted Ohioans appreciated his support for new property line setbacks and the energy mandate freeze. He was glad to hear the news and said we were the ONLY ones who expressed thanks and that everyone else he heard from was angry. (We can only guess that might be wind developers or leaseholders.) The Governor acknowledged shadow flicker, noise and vibrations could be a problem in people’s homes.
Coincidentally, a Michigan Court ruled last week in favor of citizens who sued over excessive noise, vibration and flicker from a 56 turbine wind development. This case is interesting because the area residents had hired an independent noise consultant prior to construction of the wind project. The noise expert predicted there would be problems before the project was built. Local press reported “Independent analysis demonstrated that the turbines would not only exceed the noise ordinance as proposed by CMS and adopted by Mason County but that the turbine noise would create widespread complaints and result in legal action by those subjected to this industrial development in a rural environment.” Likewise, Union Neighbors United hired an independent noise consultant to do studies in Champaign County prior to the Ohio Power Siting Board issuing a permit for the Buckeye Wind Phase I project. UNU’s consultant made the same kind of predictions about the potential for widespread complaints in Champaign County if the project was built. It was good to see the citizens in Mason County, Michigan prevail in the court.
A hot topic in many counties is tax abatement and whether wind projects should be granted significant local subsidy for their projects. Most counties have raised concerns about granting favorable tax treatment to wind projects that will do widespread damage to the community and to local property owners. Many townships have actually adopted resolutions in opposition to wind development. In Van Wert County, where an Alternative Energy Zone designation allowed for an automatic tax abatement for the Blue Creek project, the County Commissioners have now rescinded the designation. As other wind projects approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board seek to move forward, it is less likely that tax abatement will be granted. But that did not stop AWEA from honoring the legislator behind the subsidy program as their “2014 Windpower Influencer”. Ugh. Senator Chris Widener appears to be the “Crony of the Year” for the wind industry. We look forward to Widener’s term ending in 2015.
Many will recall that Everpower’s initial plans called for wind turbines near two Champaign County air strips – Grimes Field and Weller Field. Approximately 18 turbines were deemed hazards by the FAA due to height restrictions near airports. Now the FAA is considering lowering the allowable heights near airports from 250 feet to 160 feet. The FAA wants the new height limits to accommodate planes that lose an engine. They cite the ongoing danger to aviation due to increasing development near airports and they specifically identify wind turbines as a source of concern.
Word from Van Wert County is that Iberdrola is seeking property easements from non-participating property owners near their planned Dog Creek project. No news on progress but we will keep an eye on it.
(06-25-14) We need you to comment.
The comment period is now open for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants already in operation – aka the existing-source rule. Now, more than ever, we need you to send comments to the EPA, urging it to implement common-sense rules that will keep electricity reliable and affordable.
We’re still studying how this will affect Ohio’s electric cooperatives specifically, but if the EPA plan is implemented as written, electric cooperative members could see price hikes of $40 a month or more.
Please visit Action.coop to send a prewritten message, which you can alter if you choose, to the EPA. Tell your co-workers, relatives and friends who aren’t co-op members that they can visit TellEPA.com, which is the non-member’s route to filing a comment.
The July issue of Country Living includes a story on the new rule plus a comment card that readers can tear out and mail back.
Is it really about global warming?
Averting global warming has been cited as the driver behind the EPA’s proposed rule aimed at limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. But a recent analysis of the proposal for the Global Science Report concluded that the environmental benefit is minimal – less than two one hundredths of a degree Celsius by the year 2100.
The authors, Chip Knappenberger and Patrick Michaels, pointed out that the number was missing from the EPA’s fact sheet touting the rule’s benefits.
“We’re not even sure how to put such a small number into practical terms,” they wrote, “because, basically, the number is so small as to be undetectable. Which, no doubt, is why it’s not included in the EPA Fact Sheet.”
(06-23-14) Setbacks from wind turbines seem to be big news from Findlay to Finland where the Ministry of Social Affairs & Health has issued a new report asserting that existing 1,640 foot setback regulations in that country are “far too short”. How timely.
The report states that “the Ministry has stated that a buffer zone of 500 meters [1,640 feet] between habitation and a wind power plant is all too short and that the distance should be clearly greater. The Ministry has suggested as the rule of thumb that the distance should be roughly 10 times the polar altitude of the power plant. The real sites of the power plants or the type and size of the power plants are not yet known in the context of the land use plan. Therefore the Ministry proposed 2 km as the buffer zone [about 1.25 mile]. In this way the hazards of power plants could with great probability be avoided. Now a buffer zone of 2 km is referred to in discussions as the absolute minimum distance, which was not the purpose in the Ministry’s opinions. Wind power plants can be built closer than that but then the impact assessment should be careful and assertive and be based on reliable given values. Power plants should not be built within a distance shorter than 2 km without a comprehensive health impact assessment.”
With this context in mind, it is shocking to see the Ohio wind developers and environmental leaders continue their attacks citing jobs, money to communities, climate change and so on as justification for inadequate setbacks. Interestingly, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health takes the view that if residents are not adequately protected, wind energy will become so hated that all further wind development will come to an end. This is diametrically opposed to the response of wind developers in Ohio. Perhaps the difference is that some developers in Ohio do not plan to be long term owners of these facilities and so they do not care. Recall that Everpower’s owner, Terra Firma, is on the record as saying they plan to exit the company in five or so years.
The conclusion of the Finland Ministry report states:
“It has been annoying to follow the discussion that aims at promotion of additional construction of wind power in Finland and where views of worried citizens have not been taken into consideration. The actors promoting wind power construction should understand that no economic or political objectives should be placed above the requirements for individuals’ health and wellbeing, and that people’s worries cannot be removed by justifying wind power construction by climate policy or economic objectives – rather the opposite. The worries can only be removed by well-done impact assessments and well implemented projects in connection with which the nearby residents have been genuinely heard and their worries have been taken into consideration. The next few years will show if there is desire to understand this matter and how wind power construction will succeed or not.”
If an article written by Jereme Kent, the owner of One Energy of Findlay, Ohio is any indication, absent the new setback legislation, there would be no consideration of the people living in harm’s way. Mr. Kent believes more PR and more lobbying are the answer. Mr. Kent completely disregards the views of “worried citizens” and will surely hasten the day when wind is so hated that all further wind development will come to an end. Or maybe it already has.
(06-17-14) Last Friday, Governor Kasich signed into law SB 310 and HB 483. This is a great day for industrial wind turbine opponents in Ohio, particularly our area. Ohio is the first state to reverse course on renewable mandates.
SB 310 freezes the renewable mandate for two years while a study committee reviews Ohio’s energy policy. More important, SB 310 repeals the requirement that any portion of the renewable mandate has to be satisfied from renewable power generated inside Ohio. This makes it less likely wind farms will be built in Ohio, as wind electricity is cheaper to generate in other states.
Additionally, thanks largely to State Senator Keith Faber, HB 483 now measures a turbine setback at 1,125 feet from the property line of a non-leasing landowner. This provision is a step in the right direction. ANU members may have noticed in one of the recent emails a reporter was quoted as saying that in the Blue Creek wind farm in Van Wert County only 19 of the 152 turbines could have been sited using this setback requirement. This statement is a little hard to believe. However, even if this is not entirely correct, the impact of an increased setback on the viability of wind farms is enormous.
ANU wants to thank everyone for their tireless work in this effort locally since February 2012. Hard to believe it has been over two years since our first organizational meeting in Buckland. Keep up the good work, as the wind proponents will only work harder.
Finally, ANU encourages everyone to reach out and personally thank Julie Johnson, Champaign County, and Tom Stacy, Logan County. The amount of time, effort and money they have spent cannot be measured. Without them this would not have been achieved.
(06-16-14) Today the Urbana Daily Citizen printed the attached “editorial” . The concluding message is: “To date, the only measurable result of this seven-year process so far has been mounting expenses and acrimony. We would like to exit purgatory now. Perhaps our escape is nearer now.” The Governor is expected to act on turbine setback legislation today. We will keep you posted.
(06-10-14) We need your help again.
The Governor’s Office is being flooded with call from the renewable energy advocates to veto the setback language in the budget bill.
It is not right to have the setback measured from a home – it should be from a property line.
If the wind company wants to intrude on the neighbor’s property, it needs to get an easement and compensate the landowner.
CALL GOVERNOR KASICH NOW TO ASK FOR SUPPORT OF SETBACKS IN HOUSE BILL 483.
(06-08-14) Another week of waiting and a promise that next week the Governor will sign both bills to expand wind turbine setbacks and to call a time-out on the renewable mandates. We sure wish the Governor would hurry up because the wails coming from the wind industry are keeping Kevon Martis working overtime at the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition. Below are two editorials from the Toledo Blade. One appears today and the other was printed yesterday. As usual, Iberdrola carries on about how much they have invested in Ohio (it was our tax dollars to begin with) and that they might have to rethink their future plans.
Meanwhile, in regard to the proposed setbacks from property lines, our favorite Farm Bureau wind cheerleader, Dale Arnold, is quoted as saying, “Many farmers see the proposed setback requirements as an affront to their private property rights, Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau energy policy director, said. “What science, what evaluation, what discussion has gone into this?” he asked. “We’re concerned many of those [setback requirements] are arbitrary.” Well, we will tell you what went into the legislators’ consideration – the manufacturer’s recommendations. Many of us will recall the Ohio Wind Working Group that was intended to develop “Best Practices” for the wind industry back in 2007. Dale Arnold was a member of this group and when it was determined that the recommendation by the National Academy of Science for ¼ mile setbacks should be adopted, the whole group folded and the State terminated the contract of the group’s facilitator. It has taken 7 years to right a wrong.
Yesterdays Toledo Blade column, linked above, was riddled with errors. One of the most repeated accusations from the opponents of the mandate freeze is that “Governor Kasich caved to members of ALEC, who double as lawmakers, in the General Assembly. He caved to Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists whose money increasingly dictates legislative and election outcomes. He caved to a nationally coordinated attack on Ohio’s clean-energy standards. He caved to fossil-fuel fans who are financially threatened by renewable-energy progress.” Whew! For all of us who worked as citizens – not funded by some big fossil fuel lobby or billionaires – this type of harangue shows that the wind industry and its friends in the media have no arguments of substance to support renewables and so they resort to name calling.
If the wind developers and environmental community want to engage in conspiracy theories, Kevon Martis offers his version with a Guest Editorial that the Bellefontaine Examiner printed on Saturday on page six. Martis’s editorial was submitted to numerous Ohio papers, including the Urbana Daily Citizen. We’ll see if anyone else picks it up.
Last, in a rather uncomfortable report, the World Council For Nature issued a news bulletin on the deaths of 1,600 mink at a fur farm in Denmark. The proximity of wind turbines and low frequency vibrations are considered to be the cause of the problem.
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