Preserve and Protect

Climate change PROVED to be ‘nothing but a lie’

Russian militarization of Arctic Oil

Aussie renewable energy target about to get a haircut

Latest Local News:

Groups wants Congress to blow past wind energy tax credit

Wind turbine farm in NW Ohio sold

Tax Dollars Blowing in the Wind

North East Windmills

FAA ruling could still wind farm plans

Friends: (10-23-14) Last week the PUCO issued a rule to implement the portion of Senate Bill 310 that called for the elimination of the in-state mandate for renewable energy. In its deliberations on how to fashion the rule, the Ohio Environmental Council and the Sierra Club argued that the in-state mandate elimination was only a two-year elimination and that any rule must reflect the temporary nature of the in-state repeal. The PUCO rejected OEC and Sierra’s arguments but we found the language used in their order was interesting:
The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that, [f]ollowing a primary rule of statutory construction, we must apply a statute as it is written when its meaning is unambiguous and definite,” and that “[a]n unambiguous statute must be applied in a manner consistent with the plain meaning of the statutory language, and a court cannot simply ignore or add words.”
Fair enough – we agree. We wonder, then, how the PUCO/OPSB could have gotten so far off track when establishing other siting rules for noise, ice throw, recreation areas, complaint processes and everything else called for in the law. Hmmm…
And speaking of the Sierra Club, the latest issue of Fortune Magazine reports: “Environmentalists and renewable-power providers fear that Ohio could be the spearhead for pushing back other states’ mandates for renewables. Despite five years of relatively robust investment in renewables here, the presence in Ohio of two of the nation’s largest utilities (AEP and FirstEnergy), along with the legacy coal industry (Ohio produced 26,000 tons of coal in 2012), makes it a prime battleground for the struggle between clean energy and cheap, dirty coal. “This is ground zero,” says Sierra Club Ohio energy director Dan Sawmiller.”
The Fortune story features efforts by Honda to ‘appear’ environmentally responsible. The people in and around Russell’s Point can see Honda’s green totem quite clearly. In the article Honda reports that its turbines provide 10,000 MW hours a year or 10% of the plant’s energy needs. They say it is a “good bet” Honda will be adding more. No wonder Honda favors state mandates that keep the price of their renewable energy credits elevated and shifts some of their costs to Ohio consumers and ratepayers
Meanwhile, over at GM, the story is solar with a huge installation at Lordstown.  We note again that the “appearance” of being green is important to the automaker and it is a point of pride that the solar panels can be seen from the Ohio Turnpike. The 8,500 panel array is a 2.2 MW installation designed to supply 1.5% of GM’s needs at Lordstown.
In Van Wert and Paulding Counties, the Northwest Ohio Wind Project originally proposed by National Wind and then sold to Trishe Wind  has now been sold again to Starwood Global Energy  who plans to build 100 MW by 2015 and another 250 MW sometime thereafter. We included an old article describing the 59 turbine project which was approved by the OPSB in 2013.
And last, Everpower/Terra Firma owner, Guy Hands is seeking a new communications director. For those of you who might be interested, Hands describes what he is looking for: “The City can be a jungle, as we all know, so I want resilience and someone with the hide of a rhino. I want an early bird and a night owl, someone who rises early and can stay awake until the wee small hours. Someone with leopard-like instinct, able to take a considered approach and make decisions based on what the situation demands. I want someone who can keep an eagle eye on the issues impacting our business and who isn’t afraid to swoop in and seize an opportunity that presents itself. Finally, like a giraffe, someone who is willing to stick their neck out. And of course, someone who is a bit of a monkey and can appreciate my humorous side.”

(10-21-14) Attached  is the brief filed with the Ohio Supreme Court by Joe Grant, an intervenor in Everpower’s Scioto Ridge project. Like other appeals filed in Champaign and Huron Counties, the issue of inadequate setbacks is a primary concern. In this instance, the brief makes a compelling case that the Ohio Power Siting Board approved turbines which represent a danger of ice throw as well as blade shear to neighboring non-participating properties. Further, the OPSB failed to consider the adverse impact to Indian Lake State Park. OPSB had knowledge of the distance which blades and ice could be thrown but defaulted to the state minimum’s which were later changed by the legislature. It may be useful to look at the timeline of events. In April, 2014 the Everpower project was approved; in May, 2014 an appeal was filed with the OPSB; in June, 2014 the appeal was denied while at the same time the bill revising setbacks was enacted; in July, 2014 Mr. Grant filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court; in September, 2014 the new setback law became effective and in October, 2014 the attached brief was filed. It is certainly difficult to understand why the OPSB pursued their course of action in light of what they knew.
We were intrigued by two recent posts. In the first, a University of Vermont  looks at how wind industry messages are changing. Arguments promoting wind that are now found to be fading away include: wind promotes energy independence (maybe people figured out electricity isn’t made from foreign oil); wind promotes local economic gain (jobs are temporary construction jobs) ; and wind opponents are only concerned about aesthetics. As concerns about health impacts are rising, the NIMBY arguments sound less credible and so big wind is now falling back on the evils of climate change to justify their existence.
We need look no further than to the American Wind Energy Association’s recent blog post  on the Top Ten Reasons Americans Support Wind:

1. It is free
2. Promotes local manufacturing jobs
3. Supports other blue collar jobs
4. Landowners benefit
5. “Captures Our Imagination”
6. Clean Air
7. Conserves Water
8. Is Beautiful
9. Fights Climate Change
10. Provides “unexpected” economic benefits like tourism

Having waded through this swamp of AWEA’s arguments, it was refreshing to read a rebuttal of sorts from the Heartland Institute that asserts electricity costs have skyrocketed in windy states; manufacturing jobs are principally located outside of the US; and other jobs created come at the expense of existing jobs. As for being beautiful and capturing our imagination….well that sounds pretty dumb to us!

(10-17-14) On Monday night, the Brown County Board of Health in Wisconsin voted to declare the Shirley Wind Project to be a human health hazard. The approved motion states:
“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI. A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”
This is an important step forward in the debate about industrial wind setbacks and the effects of low frequency noise. Readers of Wind News will recall that the study of LFN by four acousticians was underway at Shirley when Union Neighbors United intervened in Everpower’s Buckeye Wind II before the Ohio Power Siting Board. One of the researchers working on the Shirley Wind study was Everpower’s noise expert, David Hessler. On the witness stand at OPSB in November, 2012, Hessler responded to a question from UNU’s attorney about LFN as follows:

Q: Low-frequency noise cannot be ruled out as a potential problem at wind farms, can it?

A: Yeah, up until recently my belief was that it could essentially be ruled out, but I’m changing my mind on that a little bit.

Hessler was changing his mind because of what he was learning at the Shirley Wind project. (The full report is included in the attached motion.)
The OPSB hearings closed on December 6, 2012. On December 12th , the Shirley Wind study was concluded and on December 24th the report was issued. That report concluded two important points.

  •   “An important finding on this survey was that the cooperation of the wind farm operator is absolutely essential. Wind turbines must be measured both ON and OFF on request to obtain data under nearly
    identical wind and power conditions to quantify the wind turbine impact which could not be done due to Duke Energy’s lack of cooperation.”
  •   “A most interesting study in 1986 by the Navy reveals that physical vibration of pilots in flight simulators induced motion sickness when the vibration frequency was in the range of 0.05 to 0.9 Hz with the maximum (worst) effect being at about 0.2 Hz, not too far from the blade passing frequency of future large wind turbines. If one makes the leap from physical vibration of the body to physical vibration of the media the body is in, it suggests adverse response to wind turbines is an acceleration or vibration problem in the very low frequency region. The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

On January 17, 2013, UNU requested that the record in Buckeye Wind II be reopened to allow inclusion of the Shirley Wind Report. (See attached Motion) Everpower objected and the OPSB denied the request. Now the Health Department in Brown County, Wisconsin has determined the Shirley Wind project is a health hazard to “residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby.” The Health Department’s decision was made public on a local radio talk program. We have provided the link to the radio program.
The radio program makes several important points. First, the State of Wisconsin controls the siting of industrial wind turbines and local governments are unable to put restrictions on them unless they are deemed a health hazard. The mere designation of health hazard will not shut down the turbines. However, it will force the debate and the wind industry will have to present evidence that LFN does not cause adverse health impacts. It is believed they will not be able to refuse to cooperate as Duke Energy did previously. That will be a tall order. The radio program host asserts that the wind industry “can no longer put smarmy editorials in newspapers around the state that obfuscate the real issue which is what the wind lobby has done again and again and again.” “They are not going to be able to do that this time.”

(10-14-14) Attached are two motions filed by Everpower this week. One  is in opposition to UNU’s request for a rehearing on Everpower’s motion for an extension of their Buckeye Wind I certificate. We do not know when the OPSB might rule on the motions due to the complexities of their rule making (or lack thereof). The second  motion filed by Everpower concerns Scioto Ridge and their opposition to a local homeowner’s effort to be granted intervenor status. The homeowner has a vacation home at Indian Lake and the viewshed in the area will be severely compromised. The OPSB was required by law to address the siting of industrial wind turbines near recreation areas and they failed to do so. The imposition of a buffer zone for all kinds of recreational areas is a logical thing to do but the OPSB never did it. This is one area where citizens from all over Ohio find fault with the existing rules and any proposed revisions.
During consideration of SB 310, the Ohio Manufacturers Association was actively engaged in opposition to freezing the mandates. A number of large employers in Ohio took issue with the OMA and yesterday they made public that they have left the OMA and started their own organization. We think this is big news and have included a press report  about the matter. Hopefully, the voice of these large employers will ring in the ears of legislators who want to keep government mandates on private business.
The legislative committee to study Ohio’s renewable and alternative energy mandates is now complete. House of Representatives Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, appointed six members Thursday to the Energy Mandates Study Committee. His appointees and six from the Senate, announced three weeks ago, have pivotal roles in deciding the fate of Ohio’s energy standards, which were frozen in May.

Here are Batchelder’s appointments:

• Peter Stautberg, R-Cincinnati. Stautberg, chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee, is co-chairing the review committee, along with Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, who co-sponsored the bill that initiated the freeze. Stautberg lost his seat in the Republican primary in May, so his term runs out at the end of the year. A Stautberg aide told me that committee meetings are planned to be held before the year’s end, although it’s unlikely that the report will be issued then. Stautberg’s seat will be filled by another representative when his term ends, and one of the five other sitting members will likely replace him as co-chair.
• Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster
• Lou Blessing III, R-Cincinnati
• Christina Hagan, R-Alliance
• Jack Cera, D-Bellaire
• Michael Stinziano, D-Columbus

The 12-person committee has eight Republicans and four Democrats. Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Tom Johnson is the 13th member, although he cannot cast a vote. The committee must issue a report by the end of September 2015.
Our first impressions are that Christina Hagan understands and is sympathetic to setback concerns. Julie Johnson and Tom Stacy have met with her a number of times over the past few years. Rep. Stautberg will be leaving the legislature at year end because he lost his primary. He currently sits as Chairman of the House Public Utilities Committee and it is possible he could be succeeded by Rep. Hagan. Rep. Stinziano is smart and represents the OSU area where a number of ardent renewable energy activists are. OSU currently has a contract to buy some of the wind generated in Van Wert County. We suspect Stinziano to be a formidable opponent. Rep. Blessing is a question mark. He supported SB 310. But his father who previously served in the legislature has been a huge wind proponent and may represent some wind companies. The senior Blessing testified a number of times in support of mandates.

(10-13-14) A great deal of important activity has taken place across Ohio this past week. We invite you to go to the website of the Ohio Power Siting Board for more information as it is not possible to attach all relevant materials for each wind project.

Everpower Scioto Ridge

Greenwich Wind Park Huron County

Blackfork Wind Crawford/Richland County

We have also attached an article we have mentioned before from a science journal on health effects. This article is an effort by medical professionals to better organize the body of evidence pointing to wind turbine adverse health impacts. To the extent doctors worldwide can approach their diagnosis in a consistent way and document symptoms in a consistent manner, a more credible effort can be made to assess health impacts. Those who have operating turbines in their communities should make this document known to local physicians.

(10-6-14) As we have previously reported, the Ohio Power Siting Board revised its rules for siting industrial wind turbines and rescinded the old rules in February, 2014. A number of concerns have been raised about the OPSB rule revision process, including the fact that the public was pretty much excluded from participation in the process. The law requires OPSB to file all revised rules with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Revision (“JCARR”) prior to the changes becoming effective. The OPSB failed to do this and it has been a matter of some confusion as to what rules apply. Moreover, given that new laws on setbacks are now in effect, the rules proposed last February are not up date. Chaos. Today JCARR announced that OPSB has made a filing on rules 4906 – 1- 01 through 4906 – 17 – 07. The proposed changes can be viewed at the Register of Ohio website. We understand that JCARR has up to 65 days to review the rules. During that time the public can file comments. Once we have studied the proposed revisions, we will share our concerns.
On a related note, we attach correspondence of interest from Senator Seitz in support of the Greenwich Wind opponents who are seeking a rehearing in their case. Senator Seitz expresses concerns about how OPSB has interpreted certain provisions addressing setbacks.
A recent story on Pennsylvania’s  decision to review the contributions of industrial wind contained two rather surprising points. Everpower representative, Michael Speerscheider, is quoted as saying, “In today’s markets, there’s no real way to value what wind brings to the energy mix,”. Good grief. Worse yet, the article states that: “According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, each wind turbine kills 26 bats and four birds on average each year. With 720 turbines currently installed, that amounts to 21,600 mortalities.” Good grief again. It strikes us that this number is much higher than what Everpower proposed in its application.
In the “better late than never” category, a letter from Vestas to the City of Falmouth from 2010 has come to light. The letter  indicates that both noise and danger of ice throw  are possible and the City of Falmouthwas requested to accept/acknowledge that any impacts would be their responsibility and not the responsibility of Vestas. The manufacturer states in the letter that, should noise be an issue, the only mitigation would be to turn the turbine off with a resulting impact to power production. Falmouth has been much in the news over the years due to excessive noise and community complaints. It seems local elected officials knew ahead of time that there would be trouble.
And in the “we told you so” category, Siemens  reports that wind energy is simply not competitive in the US without public subsidy. We note that Michael Speerscheider of Everpower continues to contend otherwise.

(10-02-14) Interesting news  has been reported around the country and the world in the past few days. Pennsylvania  and Oklahoma are both taking steps to review wind energy in their states. In Oklahoma a real estate developer calls the expansion of wind “a time bomb just waiting to go off” despite the aggressive efforts of wind lobbyists to kill any legislative oversight or reform. This article is a “must read” and thanks to Mike Burton for bringing it to our attention. We are all the more grateful to Senator Seitz for seeing the problems on the horizon instead waiting until 1,700 turbines had been built such as in Oklahoma.
Closer to home in Pennsylvania, calls for a review of wind have been answered by the establishment of a legislative review committee to study impacts to landscape, wildlife and the grid. Everpower’s Michael Speerscheider states he is happy to participate but fears the study’s outcomes will be biased. He fears the way the study was legislated indicates a foregone conclusion unfriendly to wind. That EXACTLY what he and other wind lobbyists said about the Ohio study. We will probably hear the same thing soon from the Oklahoma wind lobby.
The UK’s Telegraph  is reporting that a new study by scientists at the University of Munich which has been published in a science journal called Open Science indicating long term low frequency noise exposure may damage hearing. The report is careful not to say this effect has been proven but it does give reason for further study and it does say the type of low frequency noise in question is like that emitted from industrial wind turbines.
We also share a news item from Huron County  about the resolve of citizens to fight the proposed Greenwich Windpark. The protests from this area along with the folks at Blackfork Wind, Hardin Wind, Scioto Ridge, Timber Road and Buckeye/Champaign all reflect a protest against sloppy and ineffective regulation like that described in the Oklahoma news report. As the article says: “To ensure the opportunity didn’t slip away, lawmakers promised little or no regulation and generous tax breaks. But now that wind turbines stand tall across many parts of the nation’s windy heartland, some leaders in Oklahoma and other states fear their efforts succeeded too well, attracting an industry that gobbles up huge subsidies, draws frequent complaints and uses its powerful lobby to resist any reforms. The tension could have broad implications for the expansion of wind power in other parts of the country.” We hope so!

(09-28-14) There is much activity in the world of industrial wind. In Maine, First Wind is seeking approval to use the new taller turbines which are now measuring 574 feet tall. Elsewhere, the wind industry’s principal insurer, GCube, has released its first ever “insider” report on losses and claims called “Breaking Blades”. Among the report’s findings are that “with an estimated 700,000 blades in operation globally, there are, on average, 3,800 incidents of blade failure each year. Lightning strikes are still one of the most common reasons for failure. The report explains that the first strike often impairs the lightning protection system such that the second strike can destroy the blade. In some cases, corrosion protection is insufficient causing detachments of blades from the main hub assembly and, in some cases, causing third party liability claims from human injury. Vibration is also cited as an ongoing reason for blade failure. We have discussed various vibration concerns from longer blades as a cause of low frequency noise.
Flying Magazine  has an article this month on the death of an Ag Pilot whose family was awarded $6.7 million following the pilot’s collision with an unlighted met tower. The article notes that “The meteorological evaluation towers, known as METs and equipped with small wind anemometers, have been cropping up all across the country as investors seek to cash in on the wind energy craze. By keeping them just below 200 feet, wind farm entrepreneurs save the money, time and hassle of registering them with the FAA – while putting ag pilot’s lives at risk.”
Meanwhile, Everpower has sent its latest Newsletter to local leaseholders advising them that they are considering offering to make one-time upfront payment of the entire 20 year lease payments if the leaseholder would prefer to get their money up front. The amount of the one-time payout would be less than what the landowner would receive over the life of the project but would be appealing to some leaseholders who may have urgent financial needs. Everpower is seeking a bank that might assist them in this initiative.
On the Ohio Power Siting front, we attached  the coverage on the Huron County Greenwich project and a recent community meeting where Tom Stacy, Kevon Martis and Mark Shieldcastle presented. Shieldcastle, former State of Ohio wetland wildlife manager who is now with the Black Swamp Observatory, expressed his frustration with the wind industry for using “junk science” to evade true protection of wildlife. In Champaign County, the Urbana Daily Citizen reports that the County and Township governments did not file requests for rehearing of the OPSB’s decision to grant Everpower’s certificate extension. Presumably, these governments have their hands full with their two other active suits.

(09-25-14) This week several filings have been made with the Ohio Power Siting Board. Union Neighbors United  has requested a rehearing on the OPSB’s approval of Everpower’s motion to extend the certificate expiration date in Phase I of Buckeye Wind. Ohio law requires that extensions be granted only after applications to amend a certificate are investigated, subjected to hearing and appeal and some due process accorded to the public. UNU asserts Everpower is seeking to avoid due process because any delay in obtaining the extension would subject them to the new setback rules which require measurement from property lines. The attached UNU application  for rehearing makes the case that Everpower is simply attempting to avoid these new requirements. Moreover, UNU points to the Blackfork Wind and the Paulding County Timber Road III projects (also represented by the Vorys law firm) that filed similar extension requests in order to get around the new law that seeks to protect the property rights of landowners in and around the footprint of a wind project.
It is important to note, again, that the OPSB has failed to properly adopt its revised rules because they were not submitted to the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. This means that the whole issue of what rules even apply to any wind development are up in the air. The ones who lose in the chaos are citizens who are trying to protect themselves and their communities. The OPSB has heaped insult on top of injury by not only leaving in question what the rules are, but also unlawfully suspending the rules for project extensions in order to accommodate the wind developers who are trying to duck the laws. What a mess.
The Greenwich Wind project in Huron County is yet another example of the regulatory chaos. The Omega Corporation, one of the entities impacted by the Greenwich Wind project, filed to extend the time period for the community to intervene in this project. They were denied. We have also attached their application for a rehearing of the Board’s denial. This is another indictment the OPSB and its failure to faithfully and fairly implement the laws regarding wind development. Further information on this and all other wind cases pending before the OPSB can be found on the OPSB website.
We will keep you abreast of what happens next in this drama. It is complicated but very much worth taking the time to understand because the future of a number of Ohio wind developments hangs in the balance.

(09-18-14) Yesterday the Ohio Senate members of the General Assembly’s Renewable Energy Study Committee were announced. We were surprised to see Sen. Cliff Hite on the list and will be curious to see if he will be as aggressive as he has been in the past in supporting the wind industry. Hite represents much of the area targeted for wind development including all or part of Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams Counties. Also most Committee members have significant Farm Bureau connections.
We also provide information on one of the Vorys firm’s other client’s – Blackfork Wind  being developed by Element Power, another UK based entity which is owned by a private equity firm, Hudson Clean Energy Partners.
Hudson has offices in New Jersey and China. A Hudson issued a press release this week about its success in raising $91 million. One third of these funds will support Element’s wind developments in Northern Europe. Reading the company’s profile, we note their commitment to “risk mitigated” opportunities. Risk mitigation seems to be provided by U.S. Treasury through the PTC, local PILOT and state mandates. We hope that the Study Committee clearly comprehends that it is the taxpayer and the ratepayer who enhance the return on investment for these private equity players and their limited liability subsidiaries.

(09-17-14) My goodness the attorneys for the Vorys law firm have been busy! Requests for extensions were filed last week for just about every wind project they are working on including BlackforkTimber Road, and the Blackstone  projects. Our guess – just a guess – is this might have something to do with trying to avoid the new property line setbacks as well as trying to keep the projects alive during the two year renewable mandate freeze. But the Ohio Power Siting Board may be in a state of confusion as no one knows what the rules seem to be. We will be watching this closely.
We were interested to see two townships sue a wind developer over the repair of roads in Illinois. Be sure to read the article describing the dreadful situation experienced by residents. “”You had people who couldn’t get to their homes without their cars being completely covered in tar.”

Also yesterday the Cumberland, MD newspaper  reported a story of the affect an Everpower project, known as Twin Ridges, is having on residents of a PA community near the Maryland state line. Noise, a constant hum, headaches and shadow flicker from 68 turbines built by Everpower are described. Residents report that they receive no resolution of the complaints they file with the company. What is perhaps one of the most surprising points made in this story by Everpower’s representative, Michael Speerscheider, is that when they measure noise levels, they “filter out” the “background noise”. Siting procedures and rules for noise differ from state to state and community to community but it would have seemed to us that a “normal” background noise level would have been agreed upon prior to building the facility and that current noise levels would assume that anything over the preconstruction background noise would be due to the wind turbines. To have Everpower claim that by using their own equipment, they are within noise limits seems odd to us.
UNU has consistently expressed concern about complaint resolution procedures which even today have not been proposed by Everpower for the Buckeye project. To read that after 20 complaints have been made by one family, the problem continues at such a level as to motivate the family to post a huge sign by their driveway saying “This is God’s Country – Why am I living in the dark, deep, depths of Hell?” is certainly troubling.
A comment filed by another resident following the newspaper story speaks to the finances of the Twin Ridges project. “Time for accountability and transparency….Twin Ridge is project name, but it is Big Savage, LLC is a subsidiary of Everpower. They received $65,408,684.00 on Jan. 24, 2013 from the US Treasury. In addition, it also received state subsidies: “Matthew Karnell, director of the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s programs division for the Department of Community and Economic Development, said the agency awarded Twin Ridges a $12.7 million grant that was essential to construction So, total federal and state subsidies equaled: $78,108,684 . Good grief.

(09-14-14) Following our concern about the “spin” from Juhl Wind on the performance of the Honda turbines we had feedback from some of you. Some reports indicated that employees in the plant are able to monitor performance daily because the performance monitoring equipment is available for all to see. Observations from some claim that performance has yet to reach expected production levels. Our local wind watcher, Tom Stacy, took a look at the report and found the PR release to be questionable. Tom contacted the newspaper and some of his concerns are reported here.
A sigh of relief went out across NW Ohio as we learned that Senator Seitz will be appointed to a seat of the Renewable Energy Study Committee.  Senator Seitz  has a level of technical understanding and a long experience in dealing with renewables. His participation will be important.
In Huron County, opponents of the Greenwich Windpark  are working to appeal the OPSB decision approving that project. According to the Sandusky Register, the group also plans to attend a local Farm Bureau meeting next Monday to question their support for the project.

(09-13-14) Yesterday, September 12th, Everpower filed an extensive amendment to its Scioto Ridge project in Logan and Hardin Counties. The filing includes approximately 70 different documents but the main amendment is attached and describes the reasons for the amendment. The important thing to note here is that Everpower filed the amendment on September 12 because the new property line setbacks go into effect on September 15th. By filing yesterday, Everpower seeks to avoid the new setback requirements that would have required them to relocate any turbines that are too close to non-participating property owners.
In the attached document,  Everpower proposes to consider two additional turbine models and to move certain turbines and transmission lines. These changes affect setback measurements, noise modeling and shadow flicker among other things. As a result of the changes, Everpower estimates on Page 23 that:
Of the 52 non-participating residences predicted to receive more than 30 hours of shadow flicker per year, 15 are pending (i.e., landowner is anticipated to become a participant) and 37 are non-participants. However, to assure a worst-case analysis, pending participants have been included with the nonparticipating receptors in the summary above. Table 08-02 summarizes the expected shadow flicker for non-participating receptors exceeding 30 hours/year predicted, comparing the results presented in the original Application with those anticipated under the currently proposed layout.

With respect to the setbacks, Everpower notes at page 32:

(c) Locations of Turbines in Relation to Property Lines and Habitable Residential Structures

The minor shifts in the five turbines do not violate any of the property line setbacks and residential setbacks under the Board’s rules at the time the original Application was filed. As noted below, the average property line setback has increased to 1,201 feet from 1,198 feet and the average residential structure setback has increased to 1,996 feet from 1,989 feet. The project’s setbacks are described below.

(i) Setback to Property Lines

Section 4906-17-08(C)(1)(c)(i) requires that “the distance from a wind turbine base to the property line of the wind farm property shall be at least one and one-tenth times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its tower’s base (excluding the subsurface foundation) to the tip of its highest blade.” The maximum height of turbines under consideration for the Facility at the time the original Application was filed was 492 feet (150 meters), which yields a property line setback of 541 feet (165 meters). All turbine locations, including the turbine relocations proposed in this Amendment, will comply with these setbacks, and the two new turbine models proposed in this Amendment are less than 492 in total height. As currently sited, the distance between proposed turbines and the nearest non-participating property line ranges from 549 to 2,669 feet, and averages 1,201 feet. The original Application presented a range of 549 to 2,637 feet with an average of 1,198 feet. (Ed’s note: Do not be confused by use of averages!)

(ii) Setback to Habitable Residential Structures

Section 4906-17-08(C)(1)(c)(ii) requires that “the wind turbine shall be at least seven hundred fifty feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine’s nearest blade at ninety degrees to the exterior of the nearest habitable residential structure, if any, located on adjacent property at the time of certification application.” The maximum rotor diameter of the turbines under consideration for the Facility at the time the original Application was filed was 400 feet (122 meters). If the turbine blade were at ninety degrees, the tip would extend from the base of the tower one-half the length of the rotor diameter, or 200 feet (61 meters), which added to 750 feet, yields a total setback of 950 feet. All turbines and locations, including the turbine relocations proposed in this Amendment, will comply with these setbacks, and the two turbine models proposed in this Amendment both have blades less than 200 feet in length. As proposed, the distance between the proposed turbines and the nearest non-participating residential structure ranges from 1,292 to 4,047 feet, and averages 1,996 feet. The original Application presented a range of 1,335 feet to 4,047 feet with an average of 1,989 feet. (Ed’s note: Do not be confused by use of averages!)

With respect to Indian Lake, the amendment states:

(5) Impact on Recreational Areas within One Mile

The impact on recreational areas remains as described in the original Application. Of the turbines that have been shifted, only turbine 25 is within 1 mile of Indian Lake State Park, and it was re-located to the east,
away from the park. Noise and shadow flicker were re-modeled (see Exhibits B and C of this Amendment, respectively), but results for Indian Lake State Park are the same as in the original Application. There are
no other recreation areas within one mile of the Facility.

(6) Visual Impact and Mitigation Measures

Visual impact mitigation measures remain as described in the original Application.

There is a great deal of specific information in this 44 page Amendment. The document and all related exhibits with maps and charts for specific areas can be found at the PUCO website by clicking on this link.

(09-11-14)  *Update* Another change in submitting comments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on eagle permits.
After sending my comment by e-mail, I received the following response from Dr. George Allen (below.)

Thank you so much for commenting and if you have not done so, please consider sending a comment by hard copy to the USFWS using the docket number here and the correct address.

Docket – FWS-R9-MB-2011-0094

From: Allen, George <george_t_allen@fws.gov>
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Subject: Re: FWS-R9-MB-2011-0054-0165

I’m sorry, but I am not working on eagle regulations changes. If you wish to comment on docket FWS-R9-MB-2011-0094 (Notice on EIS for possible eagle regulations changes), you must submit your comment via one of the two methods in our 23 June 2014 Notice (Federal Register volume 79, pages 35564-35567). Comments sent to my email do not get into the docket, and will not be considered.

You may submit comments by one of the following methods.

Electronically: go to the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal . Search for FWS-R9-MB-2011-0094 and follow the directions for submitting comments. Comments due by 11:59 PM on 22 September.

By hard copy: mail to Public Comments Processing, Attention: FWS-R9-MB-2011-0094; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Mail Stop: PDM, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803. Comments must be postmarked no later than 22 September.

Please note in your submission that your comments are in regard to Eagle Management and Permitting. Send your comments by only one of the methods described above.

We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you submit.

Sharing with you a request from our friend, Sherri Lange. Comments to United States Fish and Wildlife Service are needed.
Online comments are closed– BUT–hard copy comments are still being accepted and hard copy comments will have more “meat.”

Then–e-mail a copy of your comments to  Dr. George T. Allen at USFWS.

This is another opportunity to make a difference–please help by mailing your comments very soon.
Thank you!

(09-10-14) This Friday the new laws affecting wind development and renewable energy will become effective. Our friend Lisa Linowes of Wind Action has shared the attached bid and asked prices for Ohio Renewable Energy Credits (“REC’s”) that the wind developers rely upon as part of the financial analysis for project viability. The February 2014  chart shows bids for Ohio sited REC’s at $18.00 by September 2nd  the Ohio bid price on certified projects was down to $8.50. A significant loss. An article which appeared yesterday in the Gongwer News Service  discusses the expansion of REC-eligible energy under the new certification rules. Now eligible to compete in the previously protected ‘sandbox’ of wind and solar are hydro power, anaerobic digestion, abandoned coalmine recovery, methane gas from municipal waste facilities and out of state wind and solar. Predictably, AWEA and wind advocates are very unhappy.
One environmental advocate tries to claim there are “societal values” to wind that make it superior to other renewables. “”When you compare the societal values of wind and solar and traditional renewable resources, there’s much greater value than there is from allowing methane digesters that don’t even produce electricity to count as renewable energy,” he said in an interview.” We suspect many rural Ohioans threatened by a nearby wind facility would disagree with the notion of wind’s “societal benefits.” The one thing everyone can agree on – the price of REC’s in Ohio has collapsed.
In another interesting “collapse,” the Ohio Power Siting Board’s Chief of Facility Siting and Environmental Analysis, Klaus Lambeck, was terminated from his position last Friday. Lambeck has been a fixture in the wind world since SB 221, the renewable mandate, was passed in 2008. He was #2 to former OPSB Director, Kim Wissman, who was terminated earlier this year. We do not have any specific details but believe it is a good sign for all of those who seek a fair hearing and unbiased consideration at the OPSB. Fingers crossed for better days ahead.

Sometimes we wonder about how the media decides what is “news” and whether or not any critical thinking is involved in preparing a story. This came to mind this morning as we read both in the Bellefontaine Examiner and the Urbana Daily Citizen about the two wind turbines at Honda. In the Urbana paper, the story by-line credit was the politically active media group “Civitas Media” and in Bellefontaine, “Written by THE BELLEFONTAINE EXAMINER STAFF” was the by-line. In Urbana, the story ran among other “news” items described by the paper as “Submitted Story”. Here is the press release issued by Juhl Wind  of Pipestone, Minnesota, the developer and ConSolutions, the owner of the Honda turbines. It seems to us that what is being reported as a news item researched by Examiner staff is, in fact, a “Submitted Story”. Would it have been so hard for the press to write that Juhl, ConEd and Honda jointly announced whatever? Doesn’t the media have some responsibility to identify a “submitted story” as such? Evidently not when it fits their political bias.
Elsewhere, real news was being made in Allegany, New York where the Bradford Era News  and the Olean Times reported that “Close to eight years of legal battles, community upsets and neighbors bickering with neighbors over a proposed 29-wind-turbine farm project in the town of Allegany came to an end on Tuesday. The final nail in the coffin of the proposed EverPower Wind LLC farm in the communities of Chipmonk and Knapp Creek was hammered when the Allegany Town Board unanimously voted to rescind the wind overlay district.” The story is provided below. Longtime readers of the Wind News may recall that elected officials in Allegany established a wind overlay district through their local zoning as an incentive to wind developers. This wind overlay district never had the support of the community and over the next eight years the people waged a fierce battle which included electing new local government officials, engaging in litigation and ultimately, on Wednesday repealing the wind overlay district to ensure that following Everpower’s defeat, no other wind developer could build in the Allegany area.
Closer to home we also note that Antioch College  in Yellow Springs broke ground on 3,300 panel solar farm covering five acres in Greene County.

(09-08-14) As most of the focus remains on national and state elections, little activity is occurring in either Columbus or Washington. September 14th is the date the law establishing the Ohio Energy Study Committee becomes effective. We understand at this point that the Committee will not be appointed until after the November election. Similarly, it does not appear there will be a vote in Washington on extending the Production Tax Credit for wind until after the election. If the U.S. Senate goes Republican, anything could happen. We provide some updates on the PTC  as well as articles on changing views of climate change  and growing community hostility  to wind.
One issue we are looking at currently is the rules in the Ohio Administrative Code that implement Ohio’s existing renewable energy law. These rules were adopted in 2008 and it is a requirement that they be reviewed every five years. It appears that the rule review did take place and Everpower was actively involved in commenting on them. Some of Everpower’s suggestions were adopted by the OPSB and some were denied. The process requires that once the rules are reviewed and revised, they must be filed with the legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. At that point, the public has an opportunity to object to any rule revisions or interpretations. Once the JCARR completes its review, the new rules become effective. The OPSB revised its wind rules on February 18, 2014 thereby rescinding the old rules. BUT….they never bothered to file them with the JCARR. It is an open question as to whether there are any rules in effect or what the rules are. At a minimum, the OPSB looks negligent and the public is once again put at a disadvantage. We will be studying this issue and how to approach it. We will keep you advised of what we learn.

(09-01-14) Today’s Statehouse news service reports that the Hardin Wind Energy project that was approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board yesterday intends to request an amendment to its approved certificate. It has been generally agreed that certificates that are amended after the effective date of the new setback law must comply with the new requirements. Surprisingly,
OPSB spokesperson, Matt Butler, is quoted as saying: “… developers of the Hardin project have requested amendments to their certificate, which will likely be the first case to test how the new setback limits will affect previously certified projects.” [emphasis added]. This bears watching carefully as it was the intent of the legislation to grandfather existing projects but not those who seek to make substantive changes.
In a follow up article on the OPSB’s action, UNU Attorney Jack Van Kley stated that the Board erred in its decision to approve Everpower’s motion without giving consideration to new scientific information and whether Phase I is adequately sited to protect the public. UNU will request a re-hearing on the matter.
In the meantime, we enjoyed several quotes from the articles below. From US News and World Report: “America is about as likely to become reliant on green energy to meet its baseload power requirements as a unicorn is to stroll down the middle of Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue during rush hour followed by a pink elephant.”
And from MAWT: “Spain provides the perfect “model” for any Country looking to destroy itself in blind pursuit of “green” energy ideology. Trying to power a (notionally) first world economy with intermittent and unreliable wind and solar power is nothing more than an infantile delusion. When the cost of the insanity is borne by millions of struggling (and probably unemployed) power consumers and 100s of thousands thrown on the unemployment scrap heap, it borders on the criminal.”
We hope the prospective members of the Ohio Renewable Energy  Study Committee are taking note of these articles.

(08-31-14) Yesterday the National Review  reported “top down” bias in the Obama Administration’s US Fish & Wildlife Administration in favor of the wind industry. Most citizens understand this bias when 30 year kill permits are issued to wind projects that have an anticipated life expectancy of only 20 years. This story is notable for the fact that two former USFW&S investigators have come forward to speak on the record about the agency wanting “an alternative energy so badly that they’re prepared to turn a blind eye on all the bad parts of it.” North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, who sits on the House Natural Resources Committee, states “I think it’s hypocrisy at its worst. On one hand, they want to be environmentally clean. On the other, they don’t care how many birds they kill doing it.”
So what is the wind industry’s response to the problem? They hired an attorney from the National Wildlife Federation to become the new Executive Director of the Wind Energy Foundation. John Kostyack reportedly worked on endangered species cases and won significant cases on behalf of his corporate clients. We assume in his new role, Mr. Kostyack will leverage his political connections and lots of spin along with the apparent legitimacy of a career in ‘environmental protection’ to fend off the mounting number of cases filed on behalf of eagles, migratory birds and endangered bats. Why are we not surprised?

 

Content older than sixty days is archived.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: