The mad rush to year-end has officially begun! Big wind accelerates its development efforts during the holidays hoping no one notices. Panic sets in as the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly gets underway. The declining Production Tax Credit forces some developers to reconsider the viability of some projects in the pipeline. The lobbyists and P.R. shills for the wind industry crank out more questionable reports about the ‘benefits’ of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the Champs Elysee in Paris has been in flames for eight days because Prime Minister Macron has hiked the gas tax in order to fund more renewable energy and the people are pushing back. The protests are blamed on the French urban-rural split. The elites in Paris don’t drive and don’t care if diesel fuel goes to $7 a gallon while rural people are wondering how they will be able to afford to drive to work. The contempt of the “elites” for the rural people is coming into sharp focus here in Ohio as well as in France. To the barricades!
In the Ohio Senate, President Obhof says he will appoint a new chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week. Current Vice Chair of the Committee is Sen. Kris Jordan who has always been sympathetic to the anti-wind community. Other Republicans on the Committee are Bacon, LaRose, Dolan, Gardner, Hottinger, and Hoagland. Perhaps President Obhof will name one of these. There are currently two unfilled vacancies on the Committee. The Senate has scheduled full sessions for Nov. 27 and 28th as well as December 6, 12, 13, and 19. If the Committee votes for HB 114, it would go to the floor on one of these dates.
President Obhof was reported to express his opinion that the Republican Caucus supports a setback modification. “I think there is a desire by a significant portion of our caucus to also fix or change…the setback rules for windmills,” Sen. Obhof said, adding that the caucus wants the change “to allow more development than what we’ve seen over the last few years.”
A new “report” entitled A Path Forward has been released by a “corporate coalition” called www.poweringohio.org and funded by the Environmental Defense Fund. This group is made up of left-wing elites and name-brand companies that stand to profit from government-forced green energy policies in the power and transportation sectors. It is a quintessentially “elite” report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics located in Cambridge, MA. The lead author was in charge of Vermont energy policy (which, until recently, had a 6,000’ setback) and another author has frequently served as an ‘expert witness’ for the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Michigan Environmental Council, and other environmental activist organizations. The report includes such statements as:
“Meanwhile, the legislature, with gubernatorial support, should remove barriers to wind investment by relaxing setback restrictions.” (page 9) and “Businesses can work with local wind and solar developers to develop on-site or in-state purchase agreements that will lower their electricity price risk and help them meet their business objectives. JobsOhio can encourage pairings by facilitating matches between expanding companies and clean energy developers, and by offering a discount on Ohio clean energy as part of its economic development incentive packages. Assistance from JobsOhio would both reduce the transactional requirements of obtaining local clean energy and provide a competitive advantage when compared to other states in the region.” (14) The emphasis is added but good heavens! This looks like a document written for failed gubernatorial candidate Cordray as opposed to a roadmap for Gov.-Elect DeWine. Now wind is looking for more taxpayer handouts through the secretive JobsOhio program. Disgusting.
The action in Seneca County is on fire as sPower’s Seneca Wind project moves forward. A local judge has filed to intervene in the case. In his letter to the OPSB, Judge Shuff states he “has important interests to protect in this proceeding,” including excessive noise, strobe-like shadow flicker, “marring of local viewsheds,” negative impacts on property values, and deaths of migratory birds, bald eagles, and bats. He adds he wants to help protect against an “unconstitutional taking of property by the applicant.” Also filing to intervene is the Black Swamp Bird Observatory represented by veteran attorney’s Jack Van Kley and Chris Walker. More information on this case can be found at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=18-0488&link=DIVA .
Against that backdrop, Seneca County Commissioner Holly Stacy jumps into the fire in a column printed in the local paper. Saying change is inevitable and people should just accept it, Stacy goes on to thank what she thinks is the ‘silent majority’ of pro-wind supporters. Whew – pants on fire Commissioner Stacy! Constituents Chris Aichholz and Jim Feasel offer some great comments in an effort to set her straight.
To the south in Hardin County, the Hardin Wind, LLC project – also known as EverPower’s Scioto Ridge is moving forward. Rumors in the area suggest Innogy plans to build in Hardin County as well as Logan even though Logan County did not approve PILOT. On November 15th, the OPSB approved Innogy’s request to add two additional turbine models and to allow the developer to post a notice in the paper as opposed to sending a letter to residents in the footprint. More about this project can be found at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=18-1473-EL-BGA .
When EverPower sold its operating projects and its pipeline of projects to Innogy, Innogy indicated it would review each project under development to determine whether or not the project would go forward. The following Projects were identified as the “pipeline”:
- Mud Springs, MT
- New Creek Wind Project, WV
- Scioto Ridge Wind Farm, Hardin & Logan Counties, OH
- Mason Dixon Wind Project, Somerset County, PA
- Kimberly Run Wind Project, Somerset County, PA
- Buckeye II Wind Project, Champaign County, OH
- Buckeye Wind Project, Champaign County, OH
- Cassadaga Wind Project, Chautauqua County, NY
- Baron Winds Wind Project, Steuben County, NY
It is believed that Mud Springs, Scioto Ridge, Cassadaga and Baron Winds are now being addressed by Innogy. There is some uncertainty about the remaining projects. Mud Springs was mentioned in an article about a newly commissioned project in Montana. In West Virginia, two lawsuits were filed against New Creek Wind in 2017 after the plaintiffs claimed its wind turbines are noisy. Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. and Enbridge Holdings LLC were named as defendants in the suits. The status of the suits is not clear. The New York Cassadaga Project was recently approved but the New York Baron Winds project was not approved. There are a number of issues to be litigated in the Baron Winds project including the “cumulative” impact of several wind projects.
The town of Fremont, where Baron Winds is located, revised their local zoning ordinance during the state’s processing of the application under Article 10. The zoning changes include a requirement that turbines be turned off after a receptor has experienced 20 hours of shadow flicker; noise levels of 50dBa at residences was changed to property line and the level of noise at a structure was reduced to 40dBa at night; property line setbacks were increased from 1.1x turbine height to 1.5x and no turbine can be closer than 1,500’ from a residence.
The report on the Cassadaga project notes “The Cassadaga project was part of the 2GW portfolio of US wind developments Germany’s Innogy bought from EverPower earlier this year – and one of just three projects within the portfolio that are expected to reach completion by the end of 2020, in time to qualify for the full production tax credit.” Good grief!!!
In other news:
- A Texas Policy Foundation analyst writes a clear article looking at the rural-urban divide in energy policy. He concludes “It’s easy to be pro-subsidy when you don’t have to live with the results. I can sit in an Austin high-rise or a cushy studio and pontificate, or I can listen to locals and look at the facts. Rural America is speaking, and the data backs them up. Renewable energy subsidies are a bad deal.” Included in the article is a link to a Texas Public TV presentation where the studio audience laughs at a woman who is affected by shadow flicker.
- The geniuses at the Minnesota Department of Energy have discovered the answer to the lack of energy storage. They believe “the most cost-effective way to reach higher levels of wind and solar penetration involves overbuilding renewable capacity and curtailing energy production as an alternative to more expensive seasonal energy storage.” “That’s because building out more capacity to help offset intermittency of wind and solar plants is still more cost-effective than deploying the same amount of long-term energy storage, according to current cost forecasts.” And no thought to land use….none.
- Nebraska’s Madison County revised it local zoning regulations for wind. “The original regulations approved by the county in 2007-08 only required turbines to be 1,000 feet from a non-participating person’s home. After listening to input in recent months, the commissioners ultimately decided to recommend 2,200 feet for setbacks. The industry standard is 2,000 to 2,400 feet, so Madison County has split the difference. Participating land owners still must have their houses at least 1,000 feet from the turbines. Invenergy rep Framel said he thinks the planning commission in general did a good job and its regulations would be acceptable to wind companies. “ NOTE: We have never seen an “industry standard” recommendation. Even if not measured from a property line, this setback is considerably longer than Sen. Dolan’s proposal.
- Illinois’s Dekalb County has revised their wind siting rules based upon their experience. “The new regulations are meant to protect neighbors from the noise and flickering lights others in the county have experienced with less-regulated wind farms. They include 3,000 foot setbacks from neighboring properties, no shadow flicker, and very low maximum noise levels. Brad Belanger has been a strong supporter of the strict regulations. He said, “The board did their due diligence in coming up with the ordinance that addresses both the health, welfare, and property rights. What a wonderful way to start off the Thanksgiving weekend.” Local citizens collected and presented a great deal of documentation which effectively refuted the claims of the wind industry.
- Apex seems to generate controversy wherever it goes. In a scathing letter to the Buffalo, NY news, the former chairman of the Somerset Planning Board said “The Apex “forum” on the proposed Lighthouse Wind Project held last month at Lyndonville High School was a staged propaganda event. It was an effort to indoctrinate the public and suppress comment and reaction. It was the culmination of a month long barrage of mailings intended to convince a community overwhelmingly opposed to the project of the benefits of an industrial wind turbine complex.” For good measure, our friend Mary Kay Barton gives her two cents about the project and the support it has received from the Sierra Club. “We love the natural environment that God has blessed us with here in western, central and upstate New York! We have no intention of allowing money-grubbing Big Wind Bullies to force us to destroy the beauty God has blessed us with in exchange for the consumer fraud that is industrial wind. We hope and pray the Sierra Club will return to the group’s original mission of appreciating all of God’s creation and working to protect it, as John Muir intended. However, regardless of whatever the Sierra Club does, we will fight anyone who tries to force these “monuments of subjugation” upon our communities.”
- Apex is under attack also for its Galloo Island Wind project in New York. Citizens are calling for the state to deny the Apex application. “They filed a claim Oct. 31 stating that Apex violated Article 10 law, and the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment should deny the company’s application. They cited a portion of the law stating the board can dismiss the application based “upon discovery of materially false or inaccurate statements in the application” or the “discovery of material information that the applicant withheld or misrepresented …” “Compared to revocation of a certificate/application for false statements and material omissions, the ‘Do-Over’ remedy ordered for (Apex), sends a message that applicants need only be forthcoming after they are caught red-handed because there are no serious consequences to submitting a fraudulent Article 10 application,” they wrote in their claim.” At issue is Apex’s representations about an eagle’s nest in the project footprint.
- Anticipating future wind development in the New York area near Richland, the town council adopted zoning regulations for wind. “ The law requires large wind energy facilities that generate 100 kilowatts or more to stay one mile away from facility property lines and their turbines to be no taller than 500 feet, and prohibits the noise from them from exceeding 35 A-weighted decibels for more than 5 minutes to “protect nearby citizens from harmful infrasound.” The Ordinance is included below. It is worth reading.
- The Wall Street Journal takes a Virginia off-shore demonstration project to task in a slam by the Editorial Board. “The commission’s 20-page order, issued Nov. 2, is a takedown from front to back. “Dominion’s customers will pay the costs of this Project,” it says. The two turbines will generate electricity at 78 cents a kilowatt-hour—compared with 9.4 cents for new onshore wind, 5.6 cents for new solar, and around three cents for energy bought on the open market.” “Customers will pay at least $300 million (plus financing costs) to demonstrate a large-scale project that, based on Dominion’s own studies, will not be a competitive option for the next 25 years,” the commission says. Not that reality matters. “As a purely factual matter,” the commission says, the proposal “would not be deemed prudent.” But the Legislature has declared that offshore wind is “in the public interest.” Voilà, the petition is approved. That same day the utility issued a jaunty press release: “Dominion Energy Virginia customers are one step closer today to getting power from a new, renewable form of energy. The State Corporation Commission ruled in favor of plans to build two six-megawatt wind turbines.” Reminds us of Lake Erie’s Icebreaker.
- At the recent wind industry annual Operations and Maintenance conference, G.E. announced a new and taller turbine. “Taller turbines can access higher wind streams and system innovations have improved energy conversion. Set for commercial launch in 2019, GE’s 5.3 MW design increases annual energy production (AEP) by up to 50% compared with GE’s 3 MW turbines, according to the company. The turbine also incorporates a two-piece blade design for on-site assembly, improving transportability and access to site. Onshore turbine dimensions will continue to grow in the coming years and hub heights and rotor lengths could hit 200 m in the near future, Ken Young, Chief Operating Officer of Apex Clean Energy, a major renewable energy developer, told the conference on November 12.” “Larger towers and rotors will impact major components, experts warned. Increased stress on generators “requires more vigilance and more competence in our core skills,” Young said. Site conditions are also generally more demanding than those that in the past, offering lower wind levels– requiring a larger rotor– or higher levels of turbulence and wind shear, MacRobbie noted. “We are starting to see the impact of that on the equipment,” he said. Proactive measures are required to mitigate higher levels of leading-edge erosion, MacRobbie noted.””
- Are the land conservationists ready to challenge the wind industry on land use? An article from the Global Warming Policy Foundation notes “It’s also worth remembering that, as well as wanting something like a quarter of the UK’s land area devoted to biofuels of one kind or another, the CCC makes the case for more wind turbines. They have apparently tried to obscure this inconvenient fact in their report by lumping windfarms and urban areas in a land category called ‘settlements’. But the worry is that up to 10,000 square kilometres of land – twice the area of the Cairngorms National Park – is potentially being earmarked as part of a wider rollout of wind industrialisation. It’s fair to say that all this amounts to an ecological catastrophe in the planning. Yet there has not been a squeak from environmentalists in response. This is odd. Although ten years ago some greens were quite keen on biofuels – Friends of the Earth once wrote to the then-chancellor, Gordon Brown, demanding that oil companies be compelled to blend biofuels into petrol – they fairly quickly realised that energy crops are not all they are cracked up to be. You might therefore have expected some sort of a reaction to the suggestion that nearly a quarter of the UK’s land area should be devoted to energy crops and that a further very large chunk should be industrialised. It’s not as if they haven’t noticed – Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth both cited the IPCC report favorably. Bennett even said that it showed “huge additional action needed in next 12yrs to keep climate change to 1.5 degrees”. The problem is that as soon as you start looking for solutions to possible climate change, it very quickly becomes obvious that the cure is far, far worse than the disease. Nevertheless, the green lobby needs to raise funds to keep itself in business. Talk of “huge additional action” can therefore be a good way to keep the money flowing in, just so long as there is a certain reticence about precisely what that action is. Expect the silence of the greens to continue.”
- Cost advantages to larger projects are reviewed in a new O&M report. “ The rapid buildout of large-scale wind facilities in the U.S. Interior has been a key driver of lower costs and the benefits of scale are set to be compounded in the coming years. The average capacity of U.S. wind farms rose from 34 MW in 2008-2017 to 72 MW in 2008-2017 and IHS Markit predicts capacities will double again in the next 10 years, McNulty said. “Between 2018-2027 we expect the average project size for new projects to be greater than 150 MW….for the U.S. Interior we expect it to be over 200 MW,” he said. As turbines age, O&M costs increase on average to as much as $58,000/MW annually. Direct costs rise sharply by the end of the first decade of operation, which is offset somewhat by declining indirect costs such as general site administration, business services, taxes and royalties, IHS Markit said. One quarter of turbine gearboxes and generators needed replacement within 10 years of operations, it noted.” This is a warning that most Ohio wind projects will likely need to expand in the future.
- Two pilot studies are presented with the aim of examining the acoustical properties of wind turbine noise that might be of special relevance regarding effects on sleep. In both pilots, six participants spent five consecutive nights in a sound environment laboratory. During three of the nights, participants were exposed to wind turbine noise with variations in sound pressure level, amplitude modulation strength and frequency, spectral content, turbine rotational frequency and beating behaviour. The impact of noise on sleep was measured using polysomnography and questionnaires. During nights with wind turbine noise there was more frequent awakening, less deep sleep, less continuous N2 sleep and increased subjective disturbance compared to control nights. The findings indicated that amplitude modulation strength, spectral frequency and the presence of strong beats might be of particular importance for adverse sleep effects. The findings will be used in the development of experimental exposures for use in future, larger studies.
- Jason Biller of Seneca County offers a thoughtful analysis of bird mortality and the way in which the wind industry sets up false comparisons of threats to avian species….
Recharge News-Pattern brings rare wind project online in coal-heavy Montana
Innogy’s Cassadaga approved as New York market builds steam-By Karl Erik Stromsta in New York-21 November 2018
Ohio Statehouse News