How Big will the turbines be, planted next to you, in Ohio? Bigger than you think…

 

No sooner had we written about the prospects for the Clean Power Plan, Justice Scalia died and now there is much speculation about his successor and whether the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on any nomination that might be made by President Obama. We cannot speculate on what will happen but thought you should know the constitutionality of the Clean Power Plan hangs in the balance. In some states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, the Governor has ordered that no further work on the CPP be undertaken while in Kansas and Missouri, the legislatures are working to halt activity. Ohio waits to hear what happens next.

In advance of a major Wind Operations and Maintenance conference coming up in Texas, a report has been issued reviewing issues that are arising as the fleet of wind turbines deployed across America age. The numbers are sobering and should give any community thinking about approving a wind facility second thought. Principal findings include:

• Bearing failure/ repair & maintenance focus set to double by 2017

• Original Equipment Manufacturers could lose 15% share of the O&M market by 2020

• Condition Monitoring Systems & Analytics investment to increase 1/3 by 2017

• Optimization of power generation, not cost cutting the real driver of investment (63/37%)

This means among other things, the noise from turbines is going to get a lot louder as the turbines age and are in need of gearbox repair. Also, repowering existing turbines with longer blades will increase. Moreover, those turbines that cannot be viably repowered will be decommissioned (or left to rust in the fields). Finding Q13 “What is the single biggest focus for you over the next 12 months?” was decommissioning.

What does “optimization of power generation” mean? It means taller turbines and longer blades and it should mean longer setbacks. We think the giants are coming to Ohio. The FAA reviews all potential structures that exceed 200 feet in height for possible air traffic obstruction. Recently, they have reviewed a wind development planned for Bellevue for turbines listed at 660 feet! Bellevue straddles Erie, Huron and Sandusky Counties. We include an article about this sort of monster below with a link to the monster movie showing its construction.

Going back to the Operations and Maintenance issues, our colleague, Tom Stacy, advises us to think about them in the context of annually increasing renewable energy mandates. Tom says, “Consider the implications of annually ratcheting energy market share mandates with a total schedule term longer than the lifespans of wind turbines. The deployment rate must increase markedly in later years of the program when new turbines are required to meet both replacement of old machines as well to meet annual benchmarks. And all this to produce randomly timed energy without firm capacity – dictating redundant infrastructure that includes necessarily underutilized conventional power plant assets. “

With respect to the setbacks defined in law, the notion of having the minimum be defined as a formula like 3xtower height plus blade length would be more desirable than a fixed number like 1,250 feet from a property line. In the case of the 660’ turbines, the minimum would then be 1,980’. That is a significant difference.

If you haven’t read the blog from, yesterday, please see that Kevon Martis, Director of Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, has teamed up with Senator Seitz to challenge those who would seek to override the property line setback law through HB 190. They coined the phrase “trespass zoning” and have written a terrific opinion piece for the Ohio media. They conclude by saying: “Good neighbors don’t trespass. If Big Wind wants to be a good neighbor in rural Ohio, it needs to abandon its demand for trespass zoning.” The Lima News has printed the article and we hope the papers in Van Wert, Bellefontaine, Urbana and Springfield follow suit. We believe it was distributed to all of them.

Notwithstanding all of the above, on February 18th, Trishe Wind filed an Amendment to the next phase of the Blue Creek project in Paulding County proposing larger turbines and seeking to be considered under old rules that measure setbacks from homes even though Amendments to previously approved projects are supposed to be subject to the revised setbacks.  Looks like that ole “optimization of power generation”! Attention! Trespass Zoning coming to Paulding County…again!

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