Big news in Senator Cliff Hite’s backyard. One Energy has announced it will build five industrial wind turbines to provide power to Whirlpool and the Ball Company. Press reports indicate that One Energy of Findlay will finance and construct five 1.5 MW industrial wind turbines, each OVER 400 FEET tall, “on 70 acres it has bought north of Ball Corp., east of Whirlpool and south of Allen Township 215.” Further, “Feasibility studies were conducted to ensure responsible siting by assessing any potential impacts of turbine installation, including sound propagation and environmental impact. Construction is scheduled to begin in the Spring and the turbines are expected to be operational beginning in late 2015.” Okay, but it occurs to us that five 1.5 MW turbines equals 7.5 MW. Ohio law requires projects of 5MW or more to go through the regulatory siting process at the Ohio Power Siting Board. In this instance, it appears that One Energy has managed to avoid that. How? Perhaps the site is currently zoned industrial and there are no homes. That would be a start but we would still think the community would want rigorous oversight.
One Energy is currently supplying “on site” industrial wind to Cooper Farms in Van Wert’s Hoaglin Twp. Local officials there report that One Energy agreed to setbacks measured from property lines as well as 1,000 foot setbacks from roads. All of the surrounding properties were bought out except for one where an elderly resident who can barely see or hear said he would not be bothered. More recent reports from the area are that the maintenance costs are higher than expected. It was hoped that if One Energy could build more turbines for other customers, a “critical mass” could be created and a full time maintenance provider could be hired and paid by all the companies on a cooperative basis.
Elsewhere, in Northern Michigan a fight is underway against an industrial wind project that has so upset the community that a lawsuit has been filed against Heritage Wind for wildlife destruction. An earlier suit filed against the company over noise and health impacts was settled. What is striking about this case is the recent statement made by the wind industry’s trade/lobby organization, AWEA:
“It’s important to keep in mind that there are no free rides,” said John Anderson , director of environmental affairs and permitting policy for the AWEA, referring to the trend of litigation nationwide challenging turbines’ affect on lifestyles. “Our society is power hungry and requires a huge amount of energy to operate as a modern society. No form of energy is free of impact, and wind power is no exception, but studies show wind power impacts to be the lowest. There is always going to be someone who feels negatively affected. We can’t have a society dictated by a few loud opponents.”
Can you imagine if the tobacco industry used that argument against people with cancer? And, by the way, Mr. Anderson, we are having zero trouble producing enough energy from gas, coal, nuclear and hydro. Last we looked, BigWind was contributing less than 1% of our nation’s energy. Additionally, wind impacts, by themselves could be low, but you forget that they are always IN ADDITION to the effects of traditional energy producers, since they are always running in the background on our grid….