Yesterday was a very good day in the Ohio Senate on several levels. Testimony offered in support of SB 34 to repeal the Ohio Renewable Mandate was given by several witnesses in the nuclear engineering field who discussed the promise of new technology but who asserted that a mandate of any kind sends signals to the financing and venture capital markets to divert investment to the mandated technologies like wind and solar. Even small amounts of mandated wind and solar impede access to financing for emerging technologies. The Public Utilities Committee was very interested in this aspect. Then the “star” witness, Milo Schaffner, Hoaglin Township Trustee, from Van Wert County presented a Resolution from the Van Wert County Trustees Association supporting SB 34. This was especially important because Van Wert County is represented by Sen. Cliff Hite, a major obstacle to the repeal of the mandate.
Trustee Schaffner also described the remorse of a leaseholder whose farm drainage was forever ruined; the fact that people who sought “Good Neighbor Agreements” were denied by Iberdrola who instead gave them $25 Wal-Mart gift cards; that shadow flicker is experienced in the Schaffner home which is a little more than a mile from the nearest turbine and that the noise was terrible. Trustee Schaffner’s testimony is below…
Chairman Seitz, Vice Chairman LaRose, ranking member Kearney, Members of the Senate Public Utilities Committee. I want to thank you for the honor of addressing this committee. My name is Milo Schaffner and I have lived 64 of my years in Van Wert County’s Hoaglin Township. I have been involved in our community as a school board member, youth leader, job creator, (Schaffner Tool and Die), school teacher, and have just been re-elected to my fourth term as township trustee.
I stand before you now as Vice President of the Van Wert Co. Trustee Association. I would like to read to you a letter that was sent to our Senator Mr. Hite.
On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, the Executive Committee of the Van Wert County Township Association met with all twelve townships represented and unanimously Resolved to support Senate Bill 34 submitted by Senator Jordon to repeal the requirement that electrical distribution utilities and electrical services companies provide 25% of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. We urge you to support Senate Bill 34. Sincerely Jeffery A. Harmon President Van Wert County Township Association.
A copy of this is included in my testimony.
I would now like to stand before you as Hoaglin Township Trustee. I believe based upon this past November election our views are the majority of our township. Many Wind Turbine Lease Holders are in support of our stand, and thanked us for what we have been doing. We have simply been telling the truth and asking the hard questions of wind developers, that people seem to forget to ask when they are promised money.
You may not be aware that Iberdrola sent a letter to people who have asked for a good neighbor agreement. This letter informed them that Iberdrola was no longer offering good neighbor agreements, Iberdrola included a $25 gift card to Wal-Mart and thanked them for their interest. Sometime later when I saw Mr. Litchfield, project developer for Iberdrola, I told him of the shadow flicker at my house one mile away from the nearest turbine. His response was if I signed a Good Neighbor agreement Iberdrola would buy blinds for our house. The Ethics Committee has already ruled a Trustee cannot accept more than that which is offered to the average citizen. Ethics Committee opinion of March 10, 2010. Mr. Litchfield knows this because he told me Iberdrola’s attorney helped write the opinion. How could anyone accept this when your neighbor who lives within 1500 feet of a turbine was refused a good neighbor agreement?
I now stand before you as a Small Business Owner. Most of our machines are run by computers and require a dependable source of electricity at a competitive price. Dependable because these machines have no hand cranks. If the electricity amperage or voltage is varied it can cost many thousands of dollars in repairs. Let me ask you why should I invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment in a state that has chosen to require me to buy electricity that is not dependable, and is far too expensive?
Lastly I stand before you as a citizen of Hoaglin Township, Van Wert County, and the state of Ohio. I ask why have you passed bills that ruin our piece of happiness? Please do not test my intelligence with the old jobs argument. Come look at the license plates on vehicles at the interconnection site. Mr. Litchfield was asked if Iberdrola would hire the graduates of Vantage Vocational School who took the Wind Turbine program. His answer was no, we hire people who have been trained by the manufacturer of the turbines. Remember, we were led to believe these young people would be hired and have good paying jobs.
My Wife of over 48 years and I enjoyed drinking coffee on our front porch until the turbines came. We even went out in the winter, all bundled up and drank coffee and talked. Our neighbors called us the Cracker Barrel of Hoaglin Township. Now when we go out it only takes a couple minutes until my wife says she can’t stand it and goes inside. We have talked about moving but this is where we raised our children. They come back home where they were raised for all the Holidays.
In closing I would like to tell you how ruthless these wind developers really are. I had asked Mr. Litchfield years ago about people being lied to concerning what they were told they had signed and what they had really signed. His response was we cannot be held accountable for that because we hire another firm to get leases signed and we have no control over what they tell people. I was walking down the street a couple months ago, I believe it was in Sept. when a man said, “Hey Milo, I have been thinking about you the last couple weeks.” My response was that can’t be good. His response was I saw your picture on the front page of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and I wanted to tell you, if I had known then what I know now I would never have signed up my farm. They told me what I signed gave them only the wind rights to my farm. I now have a road through my farm that has destroyed two outlets. I don’t think I will ever be able to get my farm to drain properly again. I told him not to feel bad because they have done the same thing to other people. The man was correct he never got his farm to properly drain again, He died last week.
If a wind project is a wise investment, let people freely pursue it. I have no reason to believe the experience of others will be much different from Van Wert. The tragedy is that this probably would have never happened in the way it has developed if there was no mandate. Developers can trample one community and move on to trample the next one because they are protected by a mandate that gives them that right.
This bill is about removing the mandate.
I ask you to Pass Senate Bill 34.