Will Ohio be pressured by both BigWind AND Amazon?

“To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. The making of laws like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight.”  Otto Von Bismark

This coming week will be a nail-biter as Congress seeks to move tax reform forward.  There are too many possible scenarios to predict the outcome.  The House version of tax reform would cripple the wind industry and the Senate version would maintain the status quo and continue the phase-out of the PTC.   Conventional wisdom was that the Senate bill would be the bill that would move forward until the Senate put the Obamacare mandate repeal and the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes in their version.   If these costs were no longer an obligation of the federal government, the savings could offset the cost of continuing the PTC for wind and other special interest subsidies.  But if these items are removed from the Senate bill, Congress will need to find other ways to save money.  Eliminating the PTC or the PTC annual inflation adjustment would be one place to look for $.   Senator Grassley will do everything in his power to preserve subsidies for wind.   There is much wheeling and dealing going on and just this past week Grassley made a very surprising move to discard some rules that have impeded Trump’s judicial nominations from going forward.  This is a huge gift to Trump and ensures his nominees will be approved quickly, thus changing the nature of the federal bench for years and years to come.  Having received such a fine gift from Grassley, we don’t think Trump will push to kill off the wind industry.

At the state level, Senate President Obhof, who has been a behind the scenes supporter of industrial wind, is urging the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to move forward on a priority basis to consider HB 114 which deals with the renewable energy mandate and energy efficiency requirements.   Sounds fishy to us.   The fate of former Senator Hite’s setback legislation is still unclear.  It is possible that the setback language could be offered as an amendment to HB 114.   Rumor was that Senate leadership under Obhof had ordered the Senate Finance Committee to approve setback reductions  in the budget bill.  

We note both Ohio House and Senate members have written letters of support for the development of industrial wind in Lake Erie.  It is probably safe to assume they have no idea what they are talking about. 

Other Ohio Senators are busy supporting wind indirectly by asking the PUCO to approve a deal between Amazon’s data centers (Vadata) and AEP for a 120 month discount on their cost of electricity. WHAT?  

 Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) and Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) wrote the Public Utilities Committee requesting approval of a deal between an Amazon affiliate Vadata and AEP Ohio.  Vadata has argued the move would be an “incentive for the growth of data centers in Ohio, driving unique and highly desirable economic development in Ohio.” According to media reports, the senators argued in favor of the move in a letter sent to Chairman Asim Haque earlier this year that was published in the case docket this month.  They touted the economic impact Amazon’s three existing data centers have had on the region, including hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and the creation of new jobs. Electricity, they argued, is one of the highest operating costs for these centers.”  “This reasonable arrangement will enhance Ohio’s competitiveness and accelerate data center investments,” the senators wrote. Through such a deal “the state of Ohio can help keep Vadata’s energy costs in check without a need to raise rates or cause an impact for other energy users.”

If Amazon gets a break on its electricity costs, Ohioans are likely to see increased pressure to build wind farms in Ohio.  It is sickening.

Next door in Indiana, Fulton County residents scored a huge victory over wind developer RES which is planning a three county project.  We congratulate the people of Fulton County on a credible and persuasive campaign that enabled the Commissioners to make the right decision against RES.  One Commissioner was quoted saying “Although the monetary gain could be big, money is not the most important factor to consider. Quality of life is,” he said. “I feel if I vote in favor of the current ordinance before us we may jeopardize the community.”  Lewis also spoke about a common response he would receive when questioning those that do not live in or near RES’ proposed project area. “They say they don’t mind it but wouldn’t want to live by it,” he said, adding “If people don’t mind them but wouldn’t want to live by them, then why would I want to impose something on the people that very few would want to live close to.”  He concluded by saying that a commercial wind farm in Fulton County is “not something that the good people of this county want,” and encouraged those in attendance to come together as a community with solutions “to help move us forward with projects the people, as a whole, can get behind.”

We note that In the Indiana RES project, planned for three counties, one Commissioner each in Fulton and in Miami county were required to recuse themselves from the vote.  In Miami, the Commissioner has actually been contracted by RES to negotiate leases for them.  This is appalling and should be a warning to any community where RES may be planning a project to watch closely how they may try to establish connections with elected officials. 

As we enter the holiday season, we encourage readers who are dealing with a prospective wind development in your community to regularly check with the Ohio Power Siting Board website.  Wind developers often count on people being distracted during the holidays and we see an increase in filings and activity…

 

Dear Chairman Haque,
We write to ask support for Vadata Incorporated’s application for a reasonable arrangement….Vadata is an affiliate of Amazon web services and has constructed 3 data center campuses in Central Ohio…
Through a reasonable arrangement approved by the PUCO, the State of Ohio can help keep Vadata’s energy costs in check without a need to raise rates or cause an impact for other energy users….
via

http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/TiffToPDf/A1001001A17K08A93552F01456.pdf

 

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