This week the Senate announced the members who will be serving on the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) has been appointed Chairman. Wilson is a former bank CEO and member of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Vice Chair will be Sen. Rob McColley of Napoleon in Henry County who is an attorney. Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland) is the ranking member. Filling out the Committee are Republicans Brenner (R-Powell); Burke (R-Marysville); Dolan (R- Chagrin Falls); Eklund (R-Chardon); Hoaglund (R-Adena); M. Huffman (R-Lima); Peterson (R-Sabina); Rulli (R-Salem); Craig (D-Columbus) and O’Brien (D-Bazetta).
Several interesting issues have arisen in various forums this week. A spokesperson for Innogy announced that they would be backing up wind developments onsite with batteries the size of semi-truck containers. They propose to stack five of them one on top of the other to provide 5MW of back-up power to smooth out variable winds. But their spokesperson claimed there would be no need to involve the OPSB because they would not meet the over 5MW for state regulation. We fail to see how batteries installed at a wind facility would not be considered a part of the total project and therefore included in the total MW for the facility. And, how ‘green’ are batteries? We are told NOT to dispose of them in regular trash because of the risk of the acids. What will they do with batteries the size of semis??
A question has arisen as to whether a tenant will be afforded adequate protection if a non-resident landowner/landlord signs a wind lease waiving setback restrictions. Will the landlord be obligated to inform the tenant? Does the landlord have a duty to ascertain whether the tenant family has any medical conditions? Does the tenant have any right to claims against the landowner if adverse impacts are experienced? Setback waivers generally include agreements not to publicly complain about noise, shadow flicker and other nuisance effects. Would the tenant be bound by such terms if they are not party to the agreement?
The Findlay Zoning Board of Appeals rejected an application for approval of two on-site wind turbines for an industrial facility. The 400 foot turbines exceed Findlay’s height limits of 100’ for wind turbines. The existing turbines in the Findlay area at Ball and Whirlpool are in Allen Township which has no zoning. The company seeking to erect the turbines was originally rejected by the Marion Township Zoning Board of Appeals. This led them to annex their 37-acre property into Findlay where they were met with another rejection. The company may seek to overturn the decision in court. Press reports indicate the turbines would be as close as 1000’ from neighboring residences. In the Findlay, Ohio article, Jereme Kent of One Energy is quoted as saying, “We will have to evaluate our other legal recourses to resolve this”…I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a threat to those who were opposed to the turbines! City administrators assert there would be negative impacts on these properties. We hope the folks in Findlay are aware of what happened in Falmouth, MA.
The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has gone into an over-spin condition with a new poll claiming widespread support for clean energy in Ohio. (You might even call it a “mandate”. ☹) The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in the D.C. area. P.O.S. states on their website: “Public Opinion Strategies is one of the nation’s leading public opinion research firms specializing in political, public affairs, public policy, and corporate positioning research. Our roots are in political campaign management. As such, our research is focused on producing data that compels decisions – to get results.” Gee – seems like they admit their polls are designed to get whatever result the client wants. In this case, the objective is reduced setbacks measured from homes. How noble.
There have been several media reports covering the poll but it is unclear whether any reporter has actually seen the questions that were asked. It appears that the attached memo was carefully crafted to “appear” as though it is presenting the questions but it is not. Our question is when did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez join the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum? Representatives of OCEF spent the week meeting with legislators to convince them they need to vote for renewables if they want to keep their elected office. Meanwhile, newly elected Rep. Cross from Hardin County spoke to the Annual Indian Lake Chamber meeting and said that “quality of life is now Number 1 in attracting growth.” Wonder if they took the survey?
A short video of an energy conversation with Bill Gates is worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1EB1zsxW0k
PILOT payments for the solar field in Hardin County were the recent subject of discussion with the County Commissioners. No resolution was reached and there continues to be much uncertainty surrounding the PILOT program. “County Auditor Mike Bacon had questioned if taking the productive farmland off the property tax charts would result in an increase to other taxpayers to balance the loss. Klooster said the issue has been a major concern of Invenergy, who doesn’t want the solar field development to not result in “a penny of increase to anyone’s taxes.” A public hearing on Phase II of the solar farm will be held on March 14 in Hardin County.
In other news:
- Hardin County’s Upper Scioto Valley schools want to get rid of two turbines on their property. One of the turbines does not work and the cost of a needed part is $100,000, which NexGen is not willing to pay unless USV extends its contract for services. “But the board and administration questioned why it would be interested in doing that since the amount they pay per kilowatt to NexGen is double the cost paid by the district on the commercial electric grid. “It is cheaper for me to have them not working,” said Treasurer Stacy Gratz.”….How many schools across the state know this reality?
- “American Electric Power (AEP) is paying $551m in cash to acquire full or partial interests in 724MW of US wind projects from Sempra Energy, continuing an aggressive drive to add capacity since the spectacular collapse last year of its 2GW Wind Catcher project. The deal, expected to close next quarter, includes Sempra’s 100% stake in the 100MW Apple Blossom wind project in Michigan and 78MW Black Oak Getty facility in Minnesota. The remaining 546MW comprises projects that Sempra jointly owns with BP Wind Energy: Auwahi Wind in Hawaii, Ridge 2 Wind in Kansas, Mehoopany Wind in Pennsylvania, Cedar Creek 2 Wind in Colorado and Fowler Ridge 2 Wind in Indiana.”
- Supporters and opponents of the Lake Erie Icebreaker project are sounding off about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of putting wind turbines in the lake. “Final approval could come soon for Icebreaker, a six-turbine wind installation in Lake Erie, eight miles off Cleveland’s shoreline. Lake Erie Foundation board member John Lipaj noted it’s actually a pilot project for a massive, 1,500 wind turbine installation throughout the lake. The developer has said each turbine holds about 400 gallons of industrial lubricants, and Lipaj said that’s just not worth the risk. “Lake Erie, which is the source of drinking water for 11 million people, isn’t the place to be building an industrial wind facility,” Lipaj said. “Build the wind turbines onshore; build them where farmers need that extra income. It just makes so much more sense and it’s better for the lake.” The Ohio Power Siting Board could decide on the project at a hearing February 21.
- The United States Senate has voted to approve a large measure protecting public lands. One provision of the bill is a bird measure sponsored by Ohio Senator Rob Portman that will provide $6.5 million each year through 2024 on conservation. Portman said hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie a popular bird watching destination. The Senate approved the bill in a 92 to 8 vote. The House of Representatives has not yet taken it up. “Protecting and conserving these bird populations is critically important and I am pleased the Senate approved this bipartisan legislation,” said a statement from Portman. “I’m looking forward to this legislation being signed very soon.” It remains to be seen whether the OPSB will consider this federal legislation when deciding the Icebreaker project.
- In Tippecanoe County, Indiana has decided that industrial wind development will no longer be allowed. “Wind turbines are not appropriate for our county,” said Julie Peretin. Speaking on behalf of several Tippecanoe County residents who share the same concern Peretin said, “We are too densely populated and we have some of the best farm ground in the state.” “Wind farms are a great economic opportunity for rural areas and areas with declining populations,” said Murtaugh. “Our population is constantly growing, our economic development activities are escalating, to tie up that type of ground for up to 50 years is way premature,” said Murtaugh. “A commercial developer who just kind of sweeps in, the potential to cause harm to a community cannot be understated,” she said.
- The aggressive left-wing group “Checks & Balances” had a complete meltdown over the citizens in NW Ohio (aka “fossil fuel operatives”) who are effectively using social media to speak out against industrial wind. You can read C&B’s incomprehensible screed at https://checksandbalancesproject.org/van-wert-wind-development/. We find it interesting that they blame citizen groups, such as our own, for Apex pulling out of NW Ohio, yet Apex said NOTHING like this when they left. Read the Apex article here
- Why did Apex leave VW Ohio?
- Google re-confirms its data center investment in New Albany as well as an opioid addiction program in Dayton.
- An Illinois School Superintendent challenges Apex on a misleading marketing campaign concerning a wind development’s “windfall” for local schools. “I feel the school district should only be taking a stance on any issue that has a direct impact on the schools. The other political issues people are having when it comes to the environmental impact, etc., I as Superintendent of the school district should not be making any statements on those issues. So we are absolutely neutral on this issues and we will just see how it plays out, but I just felt that I needed to clarify any perception people in the community might have that this would be viewed as a windfall for the school district,” says Ptacek.
- The authors of a 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day. Building the level of renewable generation and storage necessary to reach California’s goals would drive up costs exponentially, from $49 per megawatt-hour of generation at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent. And that’s assuming lithium-ion batteries will cost roughly a third what they do now. These forces would dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers. “You have to pause and ask yourself: ‘Is there any way the public would stand for that?’” The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum would say “YES!”