Lots of BigWind news in Ohio

Good or bad, there was much news this week. Our friends in Huron County with Greenwich Neighbors United lost a bid to take their case to the Ohio Supreme Court because the court ruled they had not filed a timely action to intervene in the case when it was first pending before the Ohio Power Siting Board. This case would have been important to clarifying the OPSB’s interpretation of the law governing setbacks and who must grant a waiver prior to the placement of a turbine that fails to meet setback standards. It is possible that a different intervenor who did file a timely intervention might make a separate appeal to the court.

In Allen County, there was much to celebrate as the Allen County Port Authority declined the request of wind developer Apex to obtain an easement for their transmission lines. Apex will now have to go back to the drawing board and try to obtain individual property owner easements for their lines. That may a very difficult thing to do as many people in the area are not inclined to help facilitate the spread of wind factories from Van Wert to Allen County and beyond.

In Champaign County, not much is happening even though the Springfield and Dayton papers keep trying to make appear there is action. Perhaps they think it will sell more paper. A huge front page article was featured today and the only worthwhile thing was a quote from wind warrior, Rich Fosson, who is quoted saying: ““I’m drained from this,” Fosson said. “I’ve contemplated selling my house four times and then I step back and think I don’t want to leave. This is a living hell.” We hear you, Rich! Meanwhile, leaseholder Roderick Yocom, is quoted saying “We ought to take advantage of this wind power to help the whole community,” Yocom said. Maybe he thinks, wrongly, the power generated will be used locally…it will NOT.

In the legislature, House Bill 503 had its first hearing. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Duffey from Worthington, offered the sponsor testimony. The next hearing will be on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in the House Government Accountability and Regulatory Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Brown. Readers will recall that Rep. Brown and Rep. Burkley co-sponsored HB 190 to repeal the property line setbacks. Rep. Burkley was subsequently “retired” from office when he lost the recent primary election. Too bad Brown didn’t go with him. Notwithstanding, many people question Chairman Brown’s ability to fairly represent the people. No one questions his commitment to the wind industry. We hope he can run fair hearings of HB 503 which is important legislation that will require state agencies to establish rules when laws require such rules. An example is legislation from years back that required the Ohio Power Siting Board to establish rules for industrial wind turbines. Among the requirements of the law was a rule for noise.

The OPSB never adopted a rule and, instead, followed its own internally-derived biased policies which have resulted in no standard for noise and, instead, an unenforceable “design goal” made up of averages across the footprint of a project. HB 503 would prohibit OPSB from doing this and it would also give citizens adversely affected by such “policies” an avenue to sue through the Court of Common Pleas. Duffey’s testimony is attached and includes the following:

* If adversely impacted by a policy that did not go through rulemaking, a person may have a cause of action in court and receive court costs and attorney fees.

* When a rule incorporates another document by reference – for example, a manufacturer’s manual as it relates to safety standards – the agency must include a dated citation for that document and may not automatically include future versions of that document without JCARR review.

* When a rule incorporates another document by reference, but that document is not easily available to the public, then the agency must provide a copy for review at no cost to the requester.

* Expands the definition of adverse impact on business to include rules that are likely to reduce the revenue of a business or increase the expenses of the business, as opposed to being limited to the charging of a new fee to the business as result of the rule.

We will make efforts to learn more about this bill. On its face, it seems a good thing…but legislation can be deceptive…

A long-stalled, controversial wind farm in Champaign County recently took a big step toward construction but a debate over the future of Ohio’s renewable energy rules could continue to slow its development.

A committee of state lawmakers recommended last year that Ohio’s current freeze on mandates requiring a quarter of Ohio’s power to come from alternative and renewable sources should remain in place indefinitely. The incentives to use renewable energy could drive up costs and lead to job losses, the committee’s report argued.
Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati-area Republican, recently introduced a bill that includes several of the committee’s recommendations and would extend the freeze for at least three more years.
Continuing the freeze doesn’t mean projects like the Buckeye Wind farm in Champaign County can’t be built, said Mike Speerschneider, senior director of permitting for Everpower, the company in charge of the project.
But it makes renewable energy firms more wary of doing business in Ohio, he said, and likely makes it tougher to sell electricity generated by the wind farm….

Source: Champaign Co. wind farm waits as debate over renewable energy widens