Has BigWind created Big Jobs in Ohio? Don’t believe everything you hear…

The Ohio Renewable Energy & Efficiency Study Committee met this past Monday to hear additional testimony from PUCO Chairman Tom Johnson. The Committee had asked Johnson to return and provide more information on the costs of the mandates to residential, commercial and industrial ratepayers. A couple of statements in his testimony stood out to us. First, with respect to job creation, Johnson testified that: “Several members of the committee wanted to know how many jobs have been created through the renewable and energy efficiency requirements. I do not have an answer to this question. As a regulatory agency, tracking and verifying jobs, whether they be green jobs or otherwise, is not considered by any PUCO processes. Nor does the PUCO have any reliable method by which it would do so.” That is quite a statement given the wind industry’s claims that wind turbines meet the “public interest” in part because of job creation. The wind industry uses the flawed JEDI model (Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Wind Model) to project job creation. Further, OPSB’s acceptance of the JEDI jobs model was and is an issue in UNU’s ongoing case against Everpower. 

The second surprising statement in Chairman Johnson’s testimony was that the PUCO (and presumably the OPSB) tries to be as transparent as possible in its work. When an entity claims information is confidential due to trade secrets or other legal protections, the PUCO requests the entity to assert and make clear their legal grounds for protection of the information. “In some instances, a utility is required to file a request for a protective order from the PUCO. Information is only kept confidential if there are legal grounds for keeping the information private,” testified Chairman Johnson. UNU, and likely other communities, have encountered numerous instances where they were denied access to information by wind developers. To our knowledge, protective orders were not routinely required….

RECAP OF JEDI MODEL AND OPSB REVIEW IN THE BUCKEYE WIND II CASE:

Everpower made numerous assertions concerning jobs during the Buckeye Wind II application and presented a report by the Camiros company. The Camiros report made use of the discredited JEDI model and UNU sought to have the “study” thrown out. Failing at that, UNU requested that the OPSB staff person who reviewed the model be required to testify about his findings. Following a dispute on the OPSB staffer’s availability, Richard Huckleberry was finally required to testify. Later, in its July 27, 2013 Request for Rehearing, UNU stated:

The testimony of the subpoenaed Staff member, Richard Huckleberry, revealed why the Staff was so reluctant to volunteer this testimony. His testimony revealed that the Staff blindly accepted Camiros’ economic analysis with no meaningful scrutiny. He did no independent research on the project’s socioeconomic impacts, and he simply copied the economics discussion in the Staff Report from the Camiros’ study. Huckleberry, Tr. XI 2637:19 – 2638:6.

Mr. Huckleberry said that he accepted Camiros’ conclusions without question because he trusted the consultant. Id. at 2679:25 – 2680:4. However, Mr. Huckleberry obviously was not familiar with Camiros prior to reviewing its report, since he had to perform research just to obtain basic background information about the company and its principals. Id. at 2638:12-23. Consequently, his blind trust in Camiros provides no reliable basis for evaluating the benefits of the BW II project.

Camiros generated the statistics for economic benefit in CW’s application by running the Job and Economic Development Impact (JEDI) Wind Model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Applic. Exh. G, p. 11. While the Board’s Order (at 24) contends that the Staff reviewed Camiros’ JEDI analysis and found it accurate, the Staff’s review was meaningless. The Staff did not re-run the model to test Camiros’ representations, because the Staff has not purchased the necessary modeling software. Huckleberry, Tr. XI 2656:13-25. Mr. Huckleberry merely read Camiros’ report. Id. at 2656:21-25. He has never used the model, was not aware of the model’s limitations, was not familiar with its inputs, has never seen the outputs from a JEDI model, and did not even know whether it is the most accurate model to use. Id. at 2657:3-11, 2673:19-25, 2677:6, 2680:7, 2681:18-23. He further admitted that he was not aware of the model’s limitations, because it was “out of my expertise” and he had “no knowledge of that.” Id. at 2681:5-11; 2684:14-16.“…

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