This past week, Sen. Obhof reiterated his feeling that HB 114 to lower the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards and reduce the wind turbine setbacks was not likely to advance given the year-end time crunch and because the changes proposed need “more caucus support”. “”We have very little time left and, as I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s more important we get policy right than that we set some kind of arbitrary deadline and say, hey, they need to be done by this date,” he said. “If we get to a place we’re comfortable, we’ll pass 114 and if we don’t, we won’t.” In addition, the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Steve Wilson, publicly expressed that he “views his role as that of a caretaker and that he won’t advance any controversial legislation without the direction of Senate leadership.” Wilson also stated that he does not expect his committee to meet for the rest of the year.
Interestingly, Senator Wilson says he has consulted with former Chairman Troy Balderson to learn more about his role. He would like to become the new permanent chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee next year if it meant he would be able to play a part in establishing a “wide-ranging” energy policy to guide the state. “I think these various bills we’re dealing with…they’re all things we should be measuring against a policy, a 30,000-foot policy that says do we or do we not think diversity in power is important?” he said.
The question of whether or not Ohio should have an energy policy that places importance on diversity in power is a good one. Ohio has many power diversity issues. Whether to prop up nuclear plants, pull support from coal facilities that have years more life, or manipulate the market through subsidies and so forth are legitimate questions. We think it is also legitimate to ask whether the population density of Ohio excludes sprawling wind developments that destroy the quality of life for rural residents. If there are few areas where wind is commercially viable and there is also lack of rural community support, should wind be pursued for the sake of “diversity”? What would be the justification? The riots in France are in opposition to an energy policy that was adverse to rural residents.
Senator Macron Dolan, who is advocating for his setback reduction bill, SB 238, wrote an opinion column in the Cleveland paper. He claims the market is demanding advanced sources of energy (whatever that means). He seems to equate advanced energy with “renewable” energy despite the fact that Ohio has lots of clean energy from clean coal to nuclear to natural gas. Like, Senator Wilson, Dolan thinks Ohio needs to take a “macro” look at energy policy. Dolan also likes to focus on the notion of job creation even though most people in NW Ohio know that jobs would not likely be created in their local communities. Moreover, rural communities are working overtime to retain local employers who increasingly find it difficult to attract employees locally. (BTW we learn in today’s news that one industry needing as much electricity as data centers is pot farms.)
Dolan’s position seems to be supported by a news article from People’s World. Who? People’s World. Not being familiar with this media outlet, we looked them up on their website which says:
“Editorial Reviews: The People’s World / Mundo Popular (www.peoplesworld.org) is a national, grassroots newspaper and the direct descendant of the Daily Worker. Published by Long View Publishing Co., the PW reports on and analyzes the pressing issues and struggles of the day: for workers’ rights, peace, equality, social and economic justice, democracy, civil liberties, women’s rights, protection of the environment, and more.
The PW is known for its partisan coverage. We take sides – for truth and justice. We are partisan to the working class, racially and nationally oppressed peoples, women, youth, seniors, international solidarity, Marxism and socialism. We enjoy a special relationship with the Communist Party USA, founded in 1919, and publish its news and views.”
YOU CAN”T MAKE THIS STUFF UP!
Going back to the discussion on the need for renewable energy and related jobs, a hearing was held in SE Ohio’s Appalachian region where AEP plans to build two solar facilities that will be among the nation’s largest. Testimony in support of the project came from environmental advocates and some local people (maybe some Marxists and Communists). “Not all parties are sold on the project, however, with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the Ohio Consumers Counsel arguing in filings that AEP’s plan violates the law because the company has not demonstrated adequate need. If the company can’t demonstrate the generation is needed, they argue, consumers shouldn’t be placed on the hook for those added costs. “This should be quite a challenge because Ohio’s electric capacity is not set by utilities, but instead is determined by the market and the regional transmission organization, PJM Interconnect,” OMA Vice President Ryan Augsburger said. “It’s a well-known fact that Ohio presently enjoys a significant surplus of electric capacity.”
We now wonder if there is a different standard for utilities like AEP versus private for-profit wind developers who don’t seem to have difficulty getting approval for building unneeded generation facilities. Facilities for which they receive taxpayer support through PILOT on top of uncompensated nuisance easements across neighboring properties through inadequate setbacks.
If Senator Dolan does not push SB 238 across the finish line in 2018, he promises to reintroduce his bill in January.
In other news:
- The Spectator also takes a swipe at wind’s “growth spin.” The Global Wind Energy Council recently released its latest report, excitedly boasting that ‘the proliferation of wind energy into the global power market continues at a furious pace, after it was revealed that more than 54 gigawatts of clean renewable wind power was installed across the global market last year’. You may have got the impression from announcements like that, and from the obligatory pictures of wind turbines in any BBC story or airport advert about energy, that wind power is making a big contribution to world energy today. You would be wrong. Its contribution is still, after decades — nay centuries — of development, trivial to the point of irrelevance.” This article is a must read. It furthers the belief that there is nothing that can be believed if it is asserted by the wind industry. Preview: A two-megawatt wind turbine weighs about 250 tonnes, including the tower, nacelle, rotor and blades. Globally, it takes about half a tonne of coal to make a tonne of steel. Add another 25 tonnes of coal for making the cement and you’re talking 150 tonnes of coal per turbine. Now if we are to build 350,000 wind turbines a year (or a smaller number of bigger ones), just to keep up with increasing energy demand, that will require 50 million tonnes of coal a year. That’s about half the EU’s hard coal–mining output.
- A group of Apex leaseholders and wind advocates held a community meeting in Huron County to discuss the Apex Emerson Creek project. Calling themselves NOW (Northern Ohioans for Wind), the group heard from Miranda Leppla an attorney with Clean Energy Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Council. Prior to that, Leppla worked on behalf of wind developer clients at the Vorys law firm. The information she was reported to have shared with the community was literally unbelievable. She actually said cats are the number one killer of birds and BATS and number two killer is climate change. Excuse us? Anyone out there find a bunch of eagles and hawks passed out from the heat? Leppla went on to claim there is no scientific evidence of any health issue. Hey Miranda, ever hear of the World Health Organization or their cautions on wind noise? This presentation was nothing short of shameful.
- On the opposing side of Emerson Creek, representatives of the Seneca Anti-Wind Union held their own community information meeting to a packed house. Concerns were raised about the ability of a landowners to build on their own land at a future point in time if the property was within the setback distance. “But Natasha Montague, a spokeswoman for Apex Clean Energy, the company developing Emerson Creek, said turbines stopping a home from being built on a nonparticipating property is a myth. “Any setback (required distance between a turbine and a home) is on the developer, a non-participating landowner is free to do whatever they want with their land,” Montague said. “Ohio has one of the largest setbacks in the country for nonparticipating houses. A turbine’s tip has to be at about a quarter mile from the property line.” The question is why anyone would build within striking distance of a failed blade, a chunk of thrown ice or moving shadows? Would such a property hold it’s value if subject to nuisance effects? Could it be financed or insured?
- Apex submitted its own “article” to the Sandusky Register which printed it as news and not opinion. Apex is beginning its efforts to convince County Commissioners to grant tax abatement for Emerson Creek. Without really using any figures, Apex dangles the lure of thousands of dollars of revenue within Huron County’s reach. What they don’t say is that while they may pay about $9,000 per MW, they would be paying about four times that amount if tax abatement is not granted. Apex also refers to the largely discredited Hoen property value study that averages home prices with a five or ten mile radius of turbines rather than discretely evaluating homes within a ½ mile of a turbine. Many times, nearby properties cannot sell at any price and foreclosures are omitted from the statistics.
- As a part of their thuggery, the wind advocates falsely claim that local residents opposed to wind development are funded by fossil fuel interests. Nothing could be further from the truth – and most fossil fuel companies are significantly invested in wind anyway. Notwithstanding, Ohio wind developers and left-wing environmental activists are sending out mailers, erecting pro-wind billboards and making political donations to curry favor for their interests. It is a David and Goliath battle and it is getting worse. Chris Aichholz from Seneca County writes a good rebuttal to wind’s false claims.
- In Henry County, Indiana, an ordinance was adopted by the town of Shirley. Indiana law allows communities to establish a “four-mile extraterritorial jurisdiction outside its corporate boundaries.” The ordinance cites a state statute under home rule that allows towns to do this. There are now 11 towns in the county that have created the four-mile zone around their city limits. These towns acted to protect themselves when the County Commissioners adopted setbacks considered by the residents to be inadequate. The wind warriors hope that if all the towns in the county adopt the four mile rule, it will be difficult for any wind developer to build despite what the Commissioners legislated.
- In Jasper County, Indiana the local wind ordinance is under review as Renewable Energy Systems (RES) is planning to construct a wind farm. The ordinance amendment affecting turbine use in the county was brought about by changes proposed by a group of local individuals including Jasper County Plan Commissioners. The group’s goal was to provide what it has referred to as “adequate protection to those who choose not to participate in the White Post Wind Project.”
- Huron and Erie County wind warriors will be interested to read about southern Illinois where opponents of a proposed wind development argue that the 600-foot-tall, 2,400-ton turbines would diminish the area’s natural beauty and harm sensitive geologic features that provide habitat to 16 endangered species, including bats and crustaceans that live in caves and underground streams. “Don’t get me wrong, we are all for alternative energy,” said Joann Fricke, 64, a retired U.S. Department of Agriculture employee who lives next to the proposed project along Illinois 156 with her husband, Mike. “But this is just not the right place for a wind farm.” Similar views have been expressed by local environmental organizations, such as Heartlands Conservancy and CLIFFTOP (Conserving, Lands in Farm, Forest, Talus or Prairie). Opponents got a boost in October, when the Illinois Department of Natural Resources published a report, known as an Ecological Compliance Assessment Tool (EcoCAT), examining how natural areas and endangered species could be affected by the proposed wind farm. The agency made 19 recommendations. The first was for the developer to consider an alternate location. The tree- and prairie-lined bluffs in Monroe County are largely made of karst, which is eroded limestone that includes caves, underground streams, fissures and sinkholes, according to Keith Shank, an IDNR manager in realty and capital planning, who led the EcoCAT study. “Wind turbines weigh thousands of pounds, and they need huge concrete foundations that go down 12 to 20 feet,” he said. “That’s a lot of weight that’s not on the ground now, and the thing with karst, you never know whether there’s a void under your feet. So it’s a challenge to build anything in this part of the county.”
- Extensive coverage of setback deliberations are continuing in Ford County, Illinois where Cindy and Ann Ihrke where recently elected to the town Board despite Apex’s aggressive efforts to defeat them. In a straw poll, all 12 county board members supported restricting wind turbines from being any closer than 1,640 feet from the property lines of any land not being leased to a wind-farm operator. “There are times it is loud,” said board member Tom McQuinn, whose rural Paxton home is about 2,500 feet from a turbine. “It is extremely loud and obnoxious, and I personally could never vote to make someone live closer than 2,250 feet from one. … We should be able to protect those who don’t want anything right on top of them.” This is an extensive article but worth reading.
- A number of articles in Ohio and elsewhere reflect that labor unions are aggressively supporting proposals to develop wind facilities in order to secure work for local members. But in Minnesota, the State utility regulators postponed a vote to approve a western Minnesota wind farm after construction unions criticized the project’s nonunion builder for primarily hiring out-of-state workers. RES, a major renewable energy developer, last year proposed the Bitter Root wind farm near Canby with 44 wind turbines that could generate up to 152 megawatts of power, a decent-sized project. RES would both develop and build the wind farm. The Laborers’ union, representing several construction unions, asserted that the socio-economic benefits of Bitter Root would be “substantially diminished” by a lack of Minnesota workers. RES has used nonunion trades workers on other wind farms in Minnesota, and the Laborers’ union says those workers were mostly from out of state. RES is currently constructing another wind farm near Woodstock in Minnesota’s southwest corner. About 85 percent of the license plates on workers’ cars at the Woodstock job are from out of state.
- There is hope that one day the wind turbine will be a thing of the past. Google is working on a new kite technology to capture steadier winds at higher altitudes. The rotors can generate up to 600 kilowatts of energy, or enough to power 300 homes, Makani executive Fort Felker said in a 2017 blog post. That’s a fraction of the power output of a conventional land-based wind turbine, but the company’s goal is to “build a new wind power technology capable of reaching altitudes not currently accessible to conventional wind turbines,” Felker said in the post. The kite would fly at an altitude of about 1,000 feet, which is much higher than typical land-based turbines, according to Felker. At that altitude, Hall said, Makani’s kite may be able to tap into winds that are stronger and more constant than the ones terrestrial wind turbines rely on.
(now, back to the picture at the top)…All of these questions and more were answered at the Northern Ohioans for Wind (NOW) alternative energy forum, “Wind and Our Community,” which took place Thursday at Ernsthausen Recreation Center. NOW is a grassroots organization that “gives a voice to local community members who support renewable wind energy development.”
NOW representative and local landowner Kevin Erf, who helped emcee the event, said Apex Clean Energy “has made significant investments in our community” by its wind turbine projects and in looking to bring turbines to Huron County and surrounding areas. He said the projects will benefit the schools, local economy and job rates and the area residents “for generations to come.” …
One Bellevue property owner said he has worked with Apex and the other companies and said from his experience, he believes “everyone of us in Huron County are going to benefit, whether we’re in the footprint or not.
“This is the most beneficial project in our community — ever. It looks like a win-win for everybody. There may be some inconveniences, but it looks like despite that, it’s going to be a win-win for everybody. I don’t know what could be better than this.”