Shocked-Ohio Supreme Court says NO to BigWind

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Our featured article is the recent decision, by the Ohio Supreme Court that “Altering a wind farm’s construction timeline is an “amendment,” and a proposal for a 91-turbine farm must return to state regulators for an extension, potentially subjecting the facility to stricter state rules...” Hallelujah!!! See more of this article at the bottom.

As the new General Assembly gets underway and Governor-elect DeWine puts together his Cabinet, there are a couple of things to note.  Current Senate Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green has been tapped to be the new Chancellor of the Dept. of Higher Education.   His move to the Cabinet will open a vacancy in the 2nd Senate District.  If the Republicans appoint a replacement from the House, it is possible that Rep. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), Rep. Steve Arndt (R-Port Clinton) or Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) could be chosen.   Sen. Gardner was a co-sponsor of Dolan’s setback bill.

Another Cabinet appointment is former Rep. Dorothy Pelanda of Marysville who will become the Director of Agriculture.  Pelanda has always voted with the wind industry.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on the legislative priorities of the incoming leadership in the Ohio House and Senate. One of Senate President Obhof’s five priorities is to “Overhaul energy laws. Obhof said he would like a comprehensive review of all of the energy laws. Examples of laws that could be changed are the renewable standard and the wind turbine setback rule.”   We are not certain what that means but we hope it means that he would be willing to give local citizens a voice in approving siting.  House Minority Leader, Rep. Fred Strahorn of Dayton also listed setbacks as a legislative priority.  “As part of encouraging higher-paying jobs, Strahorn would like to change the wind turbine setback law, which he believes would encourage more wind energy companies to invest in Ohio and create jobs.” 

In the meantime, a big case is being considered at the PUCO.  Go to http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=18-0501&link=DI to file a public comment in opposition to AEP.  Many environmentalists and radicals have organized comment letter campaigns in support of AEP’s plan to build 500MW of wind and 400 MWs of solar.  But the staff of the PUCO has testified that AEP has failed to demonstrate the added generation is needed.   The Ohio Consumer’s Council and the Ohio Manufacturer’s Association have taken a similar position.   Furthermore, the PUCO staff stated that “a demonstration of customer preferences that are increasingly shifting towards renewable energy is insufficient to establish a need of utility scale wind and solar investment.”   AEP had tried to assert that consumers are clamoring for more renewable energy.  Our observations have been that many polls do not give reliable results because the people questioned do not understand the implications of building more renewables.  The Natural Resources Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council and others are working hard in support of AEP’s proposal. Opponents need to speak out.  AEP hopes the PUCO board will override the staff. Hearings begin next week.

In other news:

  • AEP is seeking approval to build 1.2GW of wind and has filed a request for proposals that is among the biggest ever seen in the US wind market, with Louisiana-based SWEPCO looking for projects qualified either for the full or the 80% PTC – meaning they would need to be on line by the end of 2021.  The projects must be at least 100MW in size and located within territory overseen by grid operator SPP in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas or Oklahoma, the areas served by SWEPCO. Proposals are due in March 2019.

 

  • Bill Gates has issued his annual letter and in the section on energy, Gates maintains  “Solar and wind are intermittent sources of energy, and we are unlikely to have super-cheap batteries anytime soon that would allow us to store sufficient energy for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing”.  He goes on to discuss his support of nuclear energy.
  • Some years ago, Canada’s  Dr. Robert McMurtry and his wife Jane worked to develop a video about the harms of wind.  Jane McMurtry passed away recently.  In memory of Jane McMurtry, wind warriors everywhere are revisiting their important video.  See No Safe Space (video).

 

  • EverPower is the subject of litigation in West Virginia where three complaints were filed against New Creek Wind in federal court alleging negative effects on the health and well-being of several residents. “Specifically, while the plaintiffs are outside on their property, they are confronted with irritating and unabated audible noise which significantly limits the use and enjoyment of their property and results in annoyance, along with other symptoms…” one of the complaints states. The New Creek Mountain Sportsman’s Club claims its members suffer from headaches, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, hearing problems and other issues while on the hunting lodge’s property.  The plaintiffs claim the wind turbines have affected the serenity, ambiance, wildlife viewing and aesthetic nature of their properties.  The defendants knew or should have known their wind turbine project would interfere with the use and enjoyment of the plaintiffs’ properties and would result in negative physical and mental harm, according to the suits. When the plaintiffs are walking around their properties, depending on which way the turbine blades are configured, negative effects occur the closer they get in the direction of the wind turbines, according to the suits. The plaintiffs claim the wind turbines are a nuisance and that the defendants were negligent.”  Two separate lawsuits were filed 2017 as well. 

 

  • Amid hundreds of graphs, charts and tables in the latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) released last week by the International Energy Agency, there is one fundamental piece of information that you have to work out for yourself: the percentage of total global primary energy demand provided by wind and solar. The answer is 1.1 per cent. The policy mountains have labored and brought forth not just a mouse, but — as the report reluctantly acknowledges — an enormously disruptive mouse.  This report should be profoundly embarrassing to the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau, which has virtue-signaled itself to the front of a parade that is going nowhere, although it can certainly claim genuine leadership in the more forceful route to transition: killing the fossil fuel industry by edict.”
  • Wind developers continue to sell off projects to recycle capital.  Reports of sales include EDPR, Invenergy, Avangrid and Enel Green Power.

 

  • A federally funded survey of East Coast beachgoers found building utility-scale wind turbines within the typical range proposed by federal officials won’t repel most vacationers.  University of Delaware professors George Parsons and Jeremy Firestone undertook the 1,200-person survey for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and NOAA by showing respondents in 20 states a visual simulation of a wind farm with 100 6-megawatt turbines. The simulation included views of turbines placed as close as 2.5 miles from shore, far closer than the range contemplated by BOEM for most lease areas, and as far away as 20 miles, the BOEM range’s upper boundary. “The most salient finding is, the closer the turbines are to shore, the larger the negative impacts would be,” said Parsons.   Brilliant.  And 2.5 miles is the closest being evaluated.

  

Altering a wind farm’s construction timeline is an “amendment,” and a proposal for a 91-turbine farm must return to state regulators for an extension, potentially subjecting the facility to stricter state rules, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The Supreme Court voted 5-2 that the Ohio Power Siting Board improperly approved a request by developers of the Black Fork Wind Energy Project to extend the date to begin construction from January 2017 until January 2019. Opponents of the farm, which would be located in portions of Crawford and Richland counties, contend the siting board allowed the company to use a procedure to evade new “setback” rules imposed by the General Assembly, which would require more distance between turbines and property lines…

The opinion noted the board approved Black Fork’s request just weeks before the new setback law took effect, and the outcome of deadline extension request could change.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justice Sharon L. Kennedy, Judith L. French, and R. Patrick DeWine joined Justice DeGenaro’s opinion.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patrick F. Fischer wrote that the board properly interpreted state law, which led it to conclude an amendment is required only when there is a “change in the facility.” Other changes, such as a construction deadline, can be changed by a less-formal procedure, in this case, by a motion, he maintained.

Justice Terrence O’Donnell joined Justice Fischer’s dissent.NO SURPRISE HERE!

Justice Kennedy also wrote a concurring opinion, which both supported the majority’s reasoning and raised objections to Justice Fischer’s dissent. She wrote that the law applies to more than a change in a facility, noting that “the legislature did not hide substantive limitations on the amendment of a certificate in a provision that specifically addresses when ‘the board shall hold a hearing.’ ” Rather than limit the types of changes that constitute an amendment, she explained, the hearing provision “simply distinguishes a category of applications to amend a certificate—those proposing a change in the facility—in which a hearing similar to the one required to be held upon an initial application may not be required.”

Ohio court news

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