Following a pleasant lull, several troublesome initiatives are back. The first is the renewed effort by unknown renewable profiteers to put an issue on the Ohio ballot to raise $1.3 Billion annually for 10 years to pay themselves to build wind and solar projects. The program would be incorporated in Delaware and administered by an unknown commission. This initiative would be made possible by amending the Ohio Constitution. (Ground Hog Day anyone?) In the recent election, Ohio voters turned down the efforts of marijuana advocates to hijack the Constitution for their own purposes and also voted to stop similar initiatives in the future. We did not know the “future” would come within weeks of the election. This time the hijacker is “clean energy”. In an important Editorial, the Columbus Dispatch attacks the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative labeling it “preposterous” and saying it presents the opportunity for “fraud on a colossal scale”. Uh huh, what else is new? The Dispatch editors write:
“In addition, alternative-energy sources that are seeking public investment by definition have not attracted the needed funds from private investors. That’s typically because the energy is more expensive and less efficient and reliable than traditional sources, making it impossible to compete unless the business is subsidized or operates in an artificial, protected market created by government mandate.”
This is a refreshing bit of news given the blind support for wind and solar mandates by much of the Ohio media. It now remains for the Ohio Secretary of State and the Ohio Ballot Board to rule on if and how the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative will or will not appear on a future ballot. If they determine the proposal represents a monopoly outlawed under Issue Two, maybe OCE will finally give up.
Closer to home, the wind developers are agitating again to repeal the setback rules. On Wednesday, the Ohio Power Siting Board at last adopted the rule requiring setbacks to be 1,125 feet from the property line. Prior to the OPSB meeting, Senator Bill Seitz convened a small group to discuss the differing positions on setbacks. Iberdrola(in Van Wert/Delphos areas), Apex(inVanWert and Spencerville and Ohio City areas) and AWEA were represented at the meeting along with representatives from Greenwich Neighbors United and Union Neighbors United. Chairman Andre Porter of the PUCO/OPSB was also present. At issue was whether there could be some kind of compromise position on setbacks and waivers. The wind representatives argued that if no home was on an adjacent property, a more reasonable setback would be 1.1 times turbine height (including blade at the tip). Citizens asserted that just because a house is not on a property does not mean the property is not in use for recreation (hunting, golf, riding) or that a future use was not planned for the property. Likewise, farmers should be safe in their fields. Farmers should also be able to safely use aerial spray services. Sen. Seitz advised Chairman Porter that, after studying global setback standards, Ohio’s were not extreme and could even be considered on the short end. Chairman Porter announced he will convene a group of “stakeholders” in January to revisit a number of the wind rules. (Ground Hog Day again – remember the Ohio Wind Working Group?)
The wind industry proposed allowing County Commissioners to reduce the setbacks in their county. Sen. Seitz was very firm that he would never condone giving that power to County Commissioners but that he might entertain giving the power to Township Trustees who would most likely have to live with the effects of such decisions. On Wednesday, November 18th , the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee has scheduled its second hearing on HB 190. It is possible a substitute bill may be introduced that includes some of the wind industry’s desires to change setbacks. Iberdrola asserts that the107 turbine Blue Creek project in Van Wert would only be able to have 10 turbines under the current setbacks. We question that. They also claim that expansion of Blue Creek is not possible due to a number of hold outs who will not sign waivers. In addition, they claim that people in Putnam County near Leipsic are very supportive of having a wind farm…
…The just-certified “green energy” proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution remains a bad idea, as backers make a fourth run at getting the issue before voters.The Ohio Clean Energy Initiative would require the state to issue bonds totaling $1.3 billion a year for 10 years. The money would be directed to investments in alternative-energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, with decisions made by a secretive commission incorporated in the state of Delaware. Ohio taxpayers and legislators would have no say in how the money is awarded….