Are wind developers part of your ‘public’ at county commissioner meetings?

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?   Is wind development really a positive for a economic development? See our next blogs and decide for yourself…

Everpower Renewables has spent as much as $10 million in Ohio to get a trio of wind projects ready for construction, including in Champaign County, but two recently signed laws are making the firm reconsider if their investment is still worth the effort….

via Long fight over wind turbines, energy laws | Springfield, OH News | www.springfieldnewssun.com.

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