Sometimes it is good to review the basics on Ohio setback law. Ohio initially established setbacks for wind turbines in 2008, establishing two minimums, both of which had to be met. One established a 750-foot setback from the “nearest, habitable, residential structure” while the other set a distance from the base of the turbine to the edge of the property line of 1.1 times the total height of the turbine at the tip. In 2014, HB 483 replaced the provision regarding habitable residential structures with a distance of 1,125 feet to the property line.
Since 2008, the height of turbines has grown well over 100 feet and the rotor diameter has increased as well. The increasing size enables wind to be developed in areas that have otherwise poor wind resources. The US Department of Energy reports that the Great Lakes states are where the tallest turbines are deployed. As we know, Senator Dolan has made unrelenting efforts in Sub. HB 114 to reduce setbacks to 1.2 x total turbine height from the base of the turbine to the property line and 1,225 feet from tip of the nearest blade to exterior of nearest, habitable, residential structure.
Against this backdrop, two notable events occurred this past week. Kosciusko County, Indiana (just west of Fort Wayne) adopted a wind ordinance which requires turbines to be “set back from any adjoining property lot line, road right-of-way, railroad right-of-way or overhead electrical transmission or distribution lines a minimum distance of 3,960 feet or 6.5 times the height of the tower from the base to the tip of the blade in vertical position, whichever is greater.” Moreover, property line setbacks may be waived by execution of a written document signed by all land owners sharing such a property line BUT “All such documents shall be recorded in the office of the Kosciusko County Recorder within 45 days of the signing of each wind lease agreement” and the wind developer may not submit a memorandum of lease containing multiple lease contracts to the Kosciusko County Recorder. Signed wind lease contracts not submitted to the Kosciusko County Recorder’s office within 45 days of signing are null and void in Kosciusko County.” The Kosciusko Ordinance was attached a few days ago in a previous blog.
The second notable event took place in Iowa where Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy and Invenergy made a joint presentation to citizens in Union and Adams Counties. When concerns were raised about setbacks, Matt Ott, project developer at MidAmerican Energy Company attending with Invenergy representatives, said “setback distances are a bit more relaxed at 1,200 feet with cooperative landowners. When it comes to the property lines of nonparticipating residents, the setback is 1,500 feet or further to minimize any impact.” Now we have the wind developer publicly stating that at least 1,500 feet from the property line is needed to “minimize” (not avoid) impact and that a furtherdistance may be necessary.
How in the world could Senator Dolan and his allies in the Senate think that making Ohio’s setbacks shorter than they are today is acceptable? How could Invenergy support Sen. Dolan’s setbacks in Ohio while recommending much greater setbacks in Iowa?
Several other items should be carefully considered this week as well. The World Health Organization has published updated guidelines for noise and they now include wind turbine noise as a human health hazard. As the new findings are analyzed, some anticipate a number of class action lawsuits will be filed by people affected by wind turbine noise. Sherri Lange has provided an extensive review of the WHO findings on MasterResource at https://www.masterresource.org/wind-turbine-noise-issues/wto-wind-turbine-noise-as-a-health-hazard/ .
On October 16th the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a special report predicting apocalyptic environmental consequences if the nations of the world are unable to reduce the amount of warming to 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels in the next 12 years. Richard A. Epstein wrote a thoughtful review of the report for the Hoover Institute in which he concludes:
Even with massive subsidies, the efforts to produce major shifts to wind and solar have proved prohibitively expensive, given their intrinsic unreliability when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, and the persistent difficulty of storing such energy in a cost-effective manner. Pull out the subsidies, and these markets may survive in certain niche locations, but they will not displace fossil fuels. The far better path, therefore, is to concentrate on improving yields and reducing externalities from our best energy sources, instead of overlooking the serious externalities that wind and solar themselves can create.
Among the “externalities” that Epstein cites is a paper published last March contending that, with respect to the bat population, “the current situation is particularly worrying”, and “bat habitat loss fomented by the presence of wind turbines is so pervasive that bat activity continues to decline precipitously from a range of “at least 1000 meters from a wind turbine”. The paper was published in the journal Ecological Engineering and documented the profound loss of bat habitat use at locations where wind turbines have been installed. “Not only is mortality due to collision endangering rare bat species, but the mere existence of wind turbines at previously undisturbed sites may have the effect of reducing bat activity (i.e., flying passes) twenty-fold, effectively despoiling bat habitats. This phenomenon is reportedly occurring on a “worldwide” scale.” “Even more troubling, 89% of NW France’s 909 wind turbines assessed for the study are currently located less than 200 meters from natural bat habitats, implicating France’s complicity in habitat despoliation.”…
Elsewhere in the news:
- Hancock County will see three more wind turbines at the Ball Corp. bringing the number to six. It appears that the OPSB which regulates turbine projects at 5MW and above will not claim jurisdiction even if Ball crosses that threshold. It has been reported that Ball’s turbines are 1.5 MW. This should be a matter of concern if it is a tactic designed to evade regulation.
- Seneca County Anti-Wind Union held another very successful community meeting where Rep. Bill Reineke proclaimed: “We need to be the decision makers. “We don’t need people from out of state telling us they know better than us on how to live our lives.” We recommend listening to Reineke’s remarks at https://nbc24.com/news/local/seneca-anti-wind-union-draws-more-than500-for-presentation-in-tiffin.
- Allen County may be the target of the next Invenergy project where they will combine wind and solar. “Invenergy is about to begin construction outside of Lima, Ohio, of what it thinks will be the largest hybrid renewable energy project in the world. Featuring 175 MW of wind power and 150 MW of solar, the new facility will generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes. Invenergy already has a hybrid installation up and running in northern Illinois, also operated by Invenergy, but that facility does not have the balance of wind and solar power the new installation will have. It has 210 megawatts of wind, 20 megawatts of solar, and 33 megawatts of energy storage” Invenergy was attracted to the site near Lima because it is right next to a transmission line that can transport power to the grid. The sweetener is that land acquisition costs in the area are comparatively low. Construction of the wind turbines is expected to begin next year. The solar panels will be added after the wind component is completed. At the present time, Ohio has only 182 MW of installed solar power, so the new facility, at 150 MW, will nearly double the amount of solar energy in Ohio.”…