BigWind ‘amendments’ should garner attention in the Ohio legislature!

In an astonishing turn of events, Sen. Cliff Hite has suffered his own personal “setback” and has resigned from the Ohio Senate following an accusation of sexual misconduct.  Hite was the primary driver of legislation to reduce industrial wind turbine setbacks and return their measurement to the foundation of the property-owner’s home as opposed to his/her property line.  We will keep you posted on what will happen next.  It would seem odd to us that a bill could move forward if there is no sponsor.

Two days ago, EverPower filed its fifth amendment to the Scioto Ridge project in order to introduce the possible use of larger turbine models.    We question whether this request will be considered an “amendment” to the Scioto Ridge Project which would trigger property line setbacks.    The timing of the filing was certainly a coincidence.  Did the appearance in the Senate that SB 188 was moving right along give Scioto Ridge the confidence to go forward with their amendment?  Did they know that on the same day, they would lose their biggest advocate in the Senate?   The Hite bill repeals the requirement that EverPower lose its “grandfathered” status if they file an amendment to the project.  This raises all kinds of questions.   We note the application for the amendment claims the turbine manufacturer can control shadow flicker and limit it to 30 hours and that it can similarly manage noise output.   Generally this means stopping the turbine when 30 hours of flicker are reached or manipulating the blades when atmospheric conditions increase noise.  Both of these strategies decrease production and $.

Irregardless, this filing should trigger attention by Ohio Senators, especially in light of the SB 188. Why? As some senators have been swayed by BigWind to shorten the BigWind setbacks, turbine heights have more than doubled in the past 10 years alone!  This impacts neighboring properties MORE with shadow flicker, noise, ice throws etc and SHOULD result in greater SAFETY setbacks for Ohioans!

We do want to correct an error from the last issue of Wind News.   Current setback law requires 1125 feet plus the length of one blade from a property line. That’s about 1300 feet or about 2.6 times the height of a 500 foot tall wind turbine. This happens to be about 400 m which is in the ballpark of the safety manuals.   The setback today IS NOT measured in a multiple of turbine height.  Such a formula would protect neighboring property owners when models with taller turbines and longer blades are substituted for currently approved turbines.  The Skindell bill proposed a multiple of 1.1 x tower height plus blade and the Hite bill proposed 1.2x tower height plus blade length.  These both fall short of the 2.6x or 1300 feet of the existing setback.  The 1300 feet is derived by adding a setback of 1,320 feet with a 195 foot blade.