Vroom, start your engines to watch BigWind race in Ohio

The General Assembly is now fairly organized and will be starting its work soon.  The vacancy created when Bowling Green’s Senator Randy Gardner left for a cabinet position with Governor DeWine will be filled by former-Rep. Donna Gavarone who is an attorney and with her husband is the co-owner of a restaurant, Mr. Spots, in downtown Bowling Green.  A new Rep. from the district will now be named.

Speaker of the House Larry Householder has announced the members of the House Energy & Natural Resources Committee.   The new Chairman will be Champaign County’s Nino Vitale of Urbana.  Vice Chair is Darrell Kick of Loudonville.  Republican Members are Brian Baldridge of Winchester; John Cross of Kenton; Brett Hillyer of Uhrichsville; Kris Jordan of  Ostrander; Dick Stein of Norwalk; and Scott Wiggam of Wooster.   The Ranking Minority Member is Sedrick Denson of Cincinnati. Democrats serving on the Committee are Glenn Holmes of McDonald; David Leland of Columbus; Michael O’Brien of Warren and Casey Weinstein of Hudson.

The Energy & Natural Resources Committee will also have a subcommittee that will deal with Energy Generation.  It will be co-chaired by Reps. Stein and O’Brien. Republicans Baldridge and Jordan will be joined by Democrats O’Brien and Holmes on this sub-committee.   Rep. Jon Cross is the President and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.  Hardin County is the home of several wind developments as well as the state’s largest proposed solar development.  This should ensure spirited debate on renewables!

Elsewhere, an industry publication reported that most tech-savvy teenagers would easily be able to access a wind farm’s control system and shut it down, due to the poor cybersecurity of standard SCADA communication technology. According to a leading expert in the field,  hackers pose a significant risk on energy sites and the owners’ pockets.   A Vestas representative said that communications with control centers are often so vulnerable that a wind operator may not even be aware the cause of a shutdown was a hacker.  Not very comforting!

Word is that the US wind repowering market is going to be where the action is this coming year.  AWEA reports 3.5 GW were repowered in the 2017-2018 period.  NextEra is one of more active repowering developers. Developers can requalify an existing project and receive 10 additional years of federal subsidy if they invest 80% of the project’s value in new equipment like nacelles and longer blades.

Two Editorials from the Wall Street Journal were notable with respect to renewables.   One editorial looks at the costs of the California wildfire which caused PG&E to declare bankruptcy.  Some believe that renewable mandates required the utility to divert money from keeping transmission lines clear and at the same time, invest in high-cost purchases of mandated renewables.  If PG&E is permitted to cancel their wind and solar contracts, it could be devastating to the developers.  The other WSJ Editorial addresses the costs to Falmouth, MA after a court agreed their wind turbines imposed nuisance effects on neighbors and ordered the city to dismantle them at great cost. 

The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, one of the fake groups created by the environmental activists, has written to Rep. Seitz to convey their 2019 priorities.  Of course, reducing the setbacks for wind turbines once again tops the OCEF list.  Rep. Seitz’s response points to the recent experience in Ford County, IL and concludes with saying: “For a long time, I have wondered who funds the Conservative Energy Forum. I have never gotten an answer, but I highly doubt it is true conservatives. I am more than happy to work with you on your other priority of encouraging distributed generation, but arguments intended to revisit the current Ohio law that protects neighbors against the undue intrusion of 500-600 foot tall towers with moving parts is a nonstarter.”

In other news:


  • The Columbus Dispatch editorializes that “Ohio needs to encourage renewable-energy development — or at least stop sabotaging it.”  This is presumably a misguided reference to wind setbacks.


  • The “Checks & Balances Project” another shadowy group pushing renewables has focused their latest salvo on Van Wert County asserting that Van Wert is withering while Paulding County is prospering due to wind development that has raised Paulding’s bond rating.  They also take aim at Save Our Skyline saying “There is an echo chamber of anti-wind groups in Ohio that are tied together by Save Our Skyline, a repository of anonymous blog posts and disinformation, owned by an anonymous group of supposedly “concerned citizens from Ohio.”  Pathetically, C&B tries to say citizen advocates are a front group for the fossil fuel industry.  I guess it takes one to know one since all the renewable advocates are, in fact, funded by left-wing activists while the folks back home have no funding and a lot of sweat equity.  


  • An OPSB public hearing will take place in Tiffin on April 23rd.  In the meantime, Seneca Wind’s developer was denied an effort to move forward with pre-construction work. A number of leaseholders claim their leases have expired and sPower has no right to enter their property. The case will now be heard on its merits on February 22nd.


  • In Highland County arguments were made against the proposed AEP solar facility on the basis that the utility had no need for the power and AEP consumers should not be required to absorb the cost of unnecessary generation.


  • Lake Erie’s Icebreaker opponents were encouraged by a decision in New Jersey where the PUCO stated: “The petitioner’s overestimation of net economic benefits and lack of data to validate its estimates, creates a scenario where rate-payers carry a disproportionate amount of the investment risk.” “This basis for the rejection by New Jersey’s PUCO mirrors our position that the proposed turbine farm in Lake Erie off Cleveland, called Icebreaker, will also fail to provide a net benefit,” said Michelle Burke, executive director of the Boating Associations of Ohio.” 
  • A bill  in the Nebraska legislature from State Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, would require any counties that allow the construction of new wind turbines to regulate their placement, noise and decommissioning. And for two years, while counties developed guidelines, wind turbines would need to be at least three miles away from a home.


  • In New York, the state siting board  has objected to an Invenergy application on the basis of noise.  “In October 2018, the World Health Organization issued new noise guidelines and — for the first time — specifically referenced community exposure to wind turbine noise.”  Citizens argue that all projects must now meet WHO guidelines including Innogy’s proposed project. An important argument makes an ethical case against allowing higher noise exposure in residences on the property of participating land owners related to the exposure of tenants and children who are not party to a turbine lease agreement.


  • Poland is thinking about easing setback restrictions where communities agree to do so.  Currently Poland operates under the 10H rule, which stipulates that no turbines can be erected within a distance equal to ten times its blade-tip height from a neighbouring property…..what’s this?? 10x?? But, Ohio has short setbacks, according to BigWind?!?


  • The wind industry is recommending developers make better and more aggressive use of social media to combat anti-wind opponents.  “The threat is evolving and collectively, as wind companies and the media, we need to find a way to fight it…”  Really?  Fight citizens who are trying to protect their homes because they might cause injury to the employees of the developers.  How ironic.
  • There is speculation that wind prices may spike in the near future because trends indicate less supply available to purchase once the ITC and PTC are stepped down. 

And, finally, what about the recent polar vortex? How did renewable energy fare? Again, we ask, if environmentalists and BigWind force the closure of fossil fuel plants, how will we stay warm?????????…….

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The wind farms erected across the central U.S. over the past decade were supposed to provide cheap power during the blustery winter months. But they were never designed for cold like this.

As a life-threatening freeze brought temperatures that may reach all-time record lows in the Chicago area Thursday morning, heating demand surged and power suppliers were forced to start up older coal and natural gas facilities that only operate on an as-needed basis. One of the reasons why is that wind-power generation has plummeted.

“It’s just too cold for a lot of wind farms,” Adam Jordan, director of power analytics at Genscape Inc., said in an interview. “They can get damaged in weather like this.”…

The situation highlights a weakness of renewable power…

For now, coal is temporarily supplying about half the electricity needs in the two grids that serve most of the affected region…

Two companies — DTE Energy Co. in Detroit and Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. — have asked customers to turn down their thermostats to take pressure off systems struggling to meet demand.

Xcel, which gets almost a fifth of the energy on its system from wind, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about its wind-farm operations. NextEra Energy Inc., the largest U.S. renewable-energy provider, and Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based independent power producer with wind farms in the region, also didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment after regular business hours…

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