The Huron County Greenwich Windpark project is in the spotlight this week as citizens continue to battle what they believe has been an unfair and legally questionable process before the Ohio Power Siting Board. We imagine many Ohio communities feel empathy for the Greenwich residents. One issue that is in dispute concerns the OPSB’s interpretation of the law concerning when consent must be given by neighboring landowners when a setback waiver is requested. It appears that OPSB does not quite know, or perhaps is not willing to say at this juncture, how it applies the law. We are not aware of the OPSB having ruled in this area previously and so we were puzzled by the comment of the wind developer’s attorney, Sally Bloomfield. “Bloomfield said that if GNU’s interpretation were adopted, it would be a marked departure from prior law and practice. In the past, the Siting Board has consistently interpreted the law to say that any waiver “has to be granted by the people who were affected” by it, she explained.”
We know of no previous rulings on the issue of waiver consent and no prior interpretations of the law. Notwithstanding, the law appears to provide the prerequisite for all abutting property owners to give consent when waivers are granted. Bloomfield seems to be adding her own interpretation and introducing language that is neither in the law or the rule. The OPSB is continuing to mull over this conundrum and we have no idea when they might issue any clarifications. We do know that every wind-affected community will be watching closely. And from the story below, it looks as though Senator Seitz will be watching too.
Meanwhile, next door in Indiana, wind developers are happily working away expanding existing sites and looking for new ones on which to erect up to 2,000 new wind turbines. This would triple the number they have now. Indiana is touted as having suitable lands and strong winds along wiith a good geographic position to serve demand centers like Chicago and Indianapolis. One cloud on Indiana’s turbine filled horizon is the ultimate rules for the government’s Clean Power Plan.
“One particularly sticky issue: EPA’s proposed “clean power plan” rules don’t give a utility any credit, under the CO2-lowering mandates, for using green energy in its generation portfolio if it buys wind power from outside its home state. If that proviso stands, Indiana’s wind industry could be hurt because it currently sells the bulk of its power to non-Indiana utilities. They would be newly motivated to drop their Indiana contracts and buy their green energy from wind farms in their own states. Utilities and other interests are lobbying the EPA to drop the rule giving credit only to home-state-bought green energy. The final EPA rules are expected out this summer. States also will have a say in the matter, so they’ll have to be lobbied, too.”
We are keeping our fingers crossed that the proposed rule on home-state-bought green energy is removed. This is a very important issue especially for states that may lack reliable and affordable resources within their own borders.
While Ohio’s wind woes continue unabated, we were somewhat amused by the new embrace of solar energy by farmers in Ohio’s NW counties. The Mansfield News Journal reports: “It’s solar energy, however, that’s making real inroads into the farming communities of the region today, and as far as Rick Niese is concerned, the reason is simple. “Actually, we forget that we have them. I thought we would see a glare from the road. There is no glare. They’re not reflecting, they’re absorbing. No muss, no fuss,” he said. “My dad and I were talking about this the other day. We wish you could go around and do this and actually forget about the windmills, because you don’t even know it. The windmills, you’ve got them out there in everybody’s face, everybody sees them. We really like the idea of solar versus wind.”
So do we, Mr. Niese. So do we…..
An effort by opponents to stop a proposed Ohio wind farm, which includes a legally questionable maneuver to prevent property owners from granting variances, has the support of the state legislature’s most outspoken critic of renewable energy.