Will Ohio’s ‘Say Yes to BigWind’ board vote to protect the People or the Windustry?

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OPSB Kevon Martis Testimony

This past week the Ohio Power Siting Board presented rules on industrial wind siting to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) and, as we reported previously, questions were raised about whether the rules were protective of people and whether protecting people was even a requirement of the proposed rules. With the understanding that the process to develop NEW rules would start two days later on Thursday, Sen. Balderson directed the OPSB to correct the deficiencies in the current rules. The OPSB committed to do so. Thereafter, JCARR voted to approve the deficient rules. We have learned that in the convoluted process of Ohio rulemaking, the committee charged with reviewing rules has little real power. Had the JCARR voted to invalidate the rule, it could only recommend such an action to the Ohio General Assembly. So, it appears that in Ohio, we regulate by appearing to regulate while the wind industry goes it’s merry way??!!!. In retrospect we now have an even greater appreciation of the legislature putting specific language into law in 2014 to measure setbacks from property lines. Read the attached testimony, at the top, for a great explanation AND PICTURE of trespass zoning.

On Thursday, the process of new rule-making got underway with a “workshop” at the OPSB. OPSB staff were seated at the front of the room facing the podium where witnesses took turns providing testimony on what the new siting rules should contain. Thank you to witnesses representing Blackfork Wind project area, Greenwich Neighbors United, Fight the Wind, Union Neighbors United and the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition for offering into the record substantive testimony and reasoned expectations for what is required in order to protect communities from the negative impacts of industrial wind. Testimony from two acoustical experts, Rick James of E-Coustic Solutions and Angelo Campanella both offered expert testimony in support of measuring both audible and inaudible (low frequency) noise. (We do not have the final submissions from everyone and there is additional testimony from Hardin County and Crawford County that was excellent.)

On the other side, Dale Arnold from the Farm Bureau dragged out nothing new other than his offer to assist communities accept the invaders through facilitating greater transparency. It struck us as more arrogance from someone who has nothing to offer. Another witness from the Ohio Historical Society (Ohio History Connection) said that the current procedures were working well to protect Ohio’s cultural assets. And then the one wind developer witness spoke. A lobbyist for Apex stated the rules were perfect and they were reasonable. He said they did not need to be anything other than “reasonable”. Read that to mean they did not need to be “protective”. He said the current property line setbacks constituted a de facto moratorium on wind development. He forgot to say Apex tried to make the same argument in Indiana and a court ruled against them. Instead of handing in his testimony, the Apex spokesman claimed he had discovered an error in a citation which he needed to fix before submitting his testimony. Right. Our view is that the wind industry was waiting to see what arguments the citizens would make and then file comments rebutting those arguments. Apex was probably elected to testify so that at least it would “appear” that the wind industry was a willing participant in the new rulemaking process. Orchestrated kabuki theater.

We believe the “workshop” process will provide for additional written comment to be submitted. We do not know if another round of testimony will be taken and, if so, it will probably hinge on whether or not the wind companies want a forum to rebut the Thursday testimony. If not, the OPSB will at some future time issue draft rules for formal comment and we will have another opportunity to provide input. In the meantime, we need to continue to educate the public about the need for specific, enforceable standards that are protective of families. 

An interesting quote this week from a Logan County letter to the editor: “But isn’t it a little peculiar that we will not know where our commissioners stand until after they vote on June 21? Would you cast a vote for someone to represent you if he or she refused to express an opinion on an important topic, or told you to elect them first and learn their opinions later? Opinion-less representatives do not represent anything — except maybe impotence.”  All of our elected officials should be willing to voice their opinions on an issue and we, the people, deserve to know their opinion before we cast a vote for them!! 

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