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 (Wind power construction form the point of view of health protection) asserting that existing 1,640 foot setback regulations in that country are “far too short”. How timely, since Ohio recently voted to increase our setback to 1250 ft from a property line.
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 beroughly 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 the article below 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….
S.B.310 marks the first time in the U.S. that an RPS has been successfully attacked. And the wind industry needs to quickly learn from this mistake. Otherwise, the same methods are going to be used again in other states….
We were able to get the media and the public on our side, and we were able to get other major employerson our side, but it was too late. We could not stop the well–designed attack against renewables becausethe media and the public did not have a vote in the senate. Nonetheless, this was not where the windindustry failed.
Rather, the industry failed in all the moments that led up to the introduction of S.B.310. The wind industry– the better, faster, cheaper and safer industry – forgot to communicate.
We forgot to tell the public, the legislators and the media what we were doing for their state and theirenergy future.
That made us weak, and that made everything we said after the fact sound like damage control and spin.If we wait until we are attacked to tell the truth, no one will believe us….
The only weapon we have is preemptive education….
If we continue to not educate, if we continue to not take ourselves seriously, if we continue to look toAWEA to lead us with whatever they think grassroots is, we are going to continue to lose.
Silence kills good industries. Just ask Ohio developers. It is time we stop being silent. It is time we takecontrol. It is time we take ourselves seriously. It is time we tell everyone we are better, faster, cheaper andsafer. We need to tell our own story….