We ran across an interesting concept this week concerning the term ”carbon neutral”. It is used to justify Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and other schemes for the purpose of evading responsibility for carbon emissions. It has been suggested that “carbon laundering” might be a more accurate term since it has distasteful associations with “money laundering”. So when FB, Google or other tech companies say they are carbon neutral because they bought Renewable Energy Credits from a wind developer, they are really engaged in “carbon laundering” to make it look like they are powered by renewable energy. Lock ‘em up!
There is some interesting legislative news to report this week. Rep. Haraz Ghanbari of Perrysburg in Wood County has been selected to represent the 3rd Ohio House District. Following this appointment, Ghanbari was named to replace Rep. Kris Jordan on the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Jordan was also replaced on the Subcommittee on Energy Generation by Rep. Jon Cross of Kenton of Hardin County. We would like to point out that Hardin is also a county that has rescinded its Alternative Energy Zone designation. We neglected to include Hardin last week.
The OPSB approved the Willowbrook Solar facility, a 150 MW project by Open Road Renewables covering 1,762 acres of land in Brown and Highland Counties. The project was backed by AEP which filed a 20 year commitment to buy power from Willowbrook. A second 300 MW solar facility in Highland County is being developed by Hecate Energy and AEP intends to purchase this as well. AEP is forecasting $200 million in consumer savings over the life of the 20 year renewable energy purchase agreement (REPA) but says residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity would see an immediate increase of 28 cents per month in their bill.
A new statewide group has announced its formation. The Ohio Consumers Energy Alliance describes themselves as a statewide, non-partisan consumer advocate focused on keeping electricity rates low through diversifying Ohio’s energy portfolio. In a press release, the Director of the Alliance said “”Consumers have opinions about our state’s energy but are seldom heard over the noise of utility lobbyists and industry leaders,”. “Our role is to be the megaphone for the voice of consumers.” “The alliance is opposed to bailing out Ohio’s old, uneconomical nuclear plants by assessing a fee from every electric consumer in Ohio,” Belz said of the FirstEnergy proposal. “This does not move Ohio forward.” The group said it will look to recruit members from around Ohio and engage decision-makers through grassroots activities including letters, phone calls and visits. “We formed this group because for far too long the needs of the consumers have been largely ignored when it comes to energy matters,” said Belz. “Decisions about energy and electric costs have been made by legislators and the special interests who are supporting those legislators. It is now time for consumers to have a way to voice their opinions on these critical matters.”
Okay – this is an anti-nuclear group and we doubt they are seeking to diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio with more fracked oil and gas or coal but who knows? Against this backdrop, we include in this issue a number of calls for greater adoption of nuclear energy to combat climate change. These calls do not come from the Consumers Energy Alliance. It is rumored that a “clean air” bill will be introduced this week in the General Assembly. We will have a report on this as we learn more but there is sure to be lots of discussion.
An absolutely outstanding article co-authored by Michael Shellenberger in Forbes is a must read. In Why Renewables Advocates Protect Fossil Fuel Interests, Not The Climate, he pulls back the covers on groups like Sierra, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In other news:
- The Toledo Blade gives extensive coverage to wind developments in Van Wert and Paulding Counties. Wind warriors are kind of written off as NIMBYs although Jeremy Kitson gets some ink. We see a lot of irony in the new Lincolnview Community Center with the latest bells and whistles that provides a place for the community to recreate. It is too bad they need to be indoors. Maybe if they had to be outside, they would care more about their natural environment.
- A judge presiding over the litigation in Paulding County against the State of Ohio for changing the 2014 setback law by inserting language in a budget bill has ruled that Seneca County homeowners can intervene in the suit. The homeowners are asking that the suit be dismissed and that the law measuring setbacks from the property line be upheld.
- On Thursday, Seneca Wind, LLC and the OPSB staff filed a joint motion to suspend the hearing schedule to allow additional time for Seneca Wind to provide information required for the staff to complete its report of investigation. The OPSB will establish a new hearing schedule at a later date. It is unclear what the information requested is. It could be military aviation interference as well as other aviation issues including aerial spraying for cover crops to comply with the state’s efforts to clean up Lake Erie, the number of karst areas and underground water flow concerns, and so forth. The list could be long. We note that sPower is represented by a very high-powered PR firm in Columbus, Paul Werth & Associates.
- The Editors of Seneca County’s Advertiser Tribune wrote an Editorial favoring taking a time out on granting PILOT for wind projects. Seneca recently rescinded its Alternative Energy Zone designation but two previously approved projects will receive the tax abatement if they go forward as planned. “As for other potential projects — and other parts of the county are ripe for wind development — county commissioners and residents should take a wait-and-see approach to allowing energy-zone benefits. Wait until current projects are built, and see whether we want more of them.”
- In Lordstown, Ohio (home to the closing GM plant) two smaller turbines are coming down. They are not operating but continue to spin in the wind. One local citizen said. “It sounds like a helicopter is landing.” When the turbines were installed in 2011, the village was told to expect them to generate enough electricity to reduce the electric bill for the village hall by $300 to $500 per month. Hill said the actual amount of savings was “about $550 per year.” “They didn’t pan out,” Hill said. “We said just get rid of ‘em and get them out of there.”
- President Trump took off after wind energy in several public forums recently, even going so far as to claim that the noise from turbines causes cancer. U.S. Senator Grassley, who is wind’s chief proponent in the Senate, called Trump’s remarks “idiotic” while the New York Times spun a bit of its own fake news and magical thinking to rebut Trumps claims.
- One reason for wind developers to avoid bat habitat is that mitigation of bat fatality requires curtailment of the wind turbines during certain periods. This results in reduced production and less revenue. Now a new bat avoidance technology is being developed and tested in Illinois. “Results from trials at EDF Renewables’ 175MW Pilot Hill development in Illinois, where a spread of 15 ultrasonic acoustic systems were installed on turbines last year, showed an overall improvement in AEP of almost 2% and a reduction in bat fatalities of an average of 67%. Testing of NRG’s system — which generates ultrasonic waves out to the blade-tips that “jams” the bats echolocation frequency and so prompts them to forage in airspace outside the wind farm site — was conducted at the 103-turbine development over three months, with a five-metre per second cut-in speed applied at the deterrent-equipped turbines.”
- Democrats in the Congress are urging the House Ways and Means Committee to reinstate and extend the Production Tax Credit for wind and solar. Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is among the signers of a letter of support.
- In Illinois, the legislature has passed a bill that provides that only a county may enact zoning regulations for wind farms in the rural parts of a county, outside the zoning jurisdiction of incorporated cities, even in counties that don’t have countywide zoning regulations. The bill is aimed at Douglas County, where a Houston-based company, EDP Renewables North America LLC, plans build a 200-megawatt wind farm, known as the Harvest Ridge Wind Farm. Townships with their own stricter zoning could be overruled by the new law. Local officials lobbied against the bill, arguing that it would strip them of local control, but that argument largely fell on deaf ears. This is not a good sign!
- Wall Street Journal “Many environmentalists have changed their minds about nuclear energy over the past decade. While the share of energy produced by solar and wind has grown rapidly, nuclear remains America’s largest source of clean, zero-emissions electricity. Anyone seriously interested in preventing dangerous levels of global warming should be advocating nuclear power.”
- Wisconsin Public Radio: Setting aside the ambitious Green New Deal and its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, Congressional Democrats are sectioning off portions of that resolution to deliver more moderate measures that might find greater support. But largely missing from these proposals and the Green New Deal itself is nuclear power. Paul Wilson, a University of Wisconsin-Madison nuclear engineering professor, disagrees, saying nuclear can play a role in the reduction of carbon so long as the U.S.’s current fleet of about 100 nuclear power plants is maintained and innovation in the field — such as building smaller reactors that are less expensive — is supported. Including nuclear power in a national energy policy also would help give the industry a sense of direction, Wilson said’’’
- Energy Central: A major step forward in congressional support for the next generation of nuclear reactor technology took place this past week with the introduction in the Senate of the bipartisan Nuclear Energy Leadership Act (NELA), It is seen by an across- the-board coalition of nine nuclear industry organizations as an important step in creating a comprehensive blueprint to bring these designs to fruition. A key voice is Bill Gates who tweeted “I can’t overstate how important this is.”
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Former PA Governor Tom Ridge writes “Nuclear is the nation’s and the commonwealth’s most abundant source of clean energy. Nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. They provide “baseload” power, which means they reliably run 24/7 — and for 18 months to 24 months without refueling. Nuclear is a critical component of a resilient electricity grid, which is essential to national security. Our security depends on energy sources that are stable and diverse to consistently meet demands from critical customers such as military bases and government facilities.” By taking the commonsense approach of amending the AEPS statute to include nuclear energy, we can blend Pennsylvania’s competitive market structure with environmental protection, provide thousands of family-sustaining jobs and contribute to our national security.”
- Also under development in Washington by Sen. Mo Udall (D-New Mexico) is a bill to establish a federal renewable or clean energy mandate. We do not know if it will include nuclear….
Statehouse News Monday, April 1, 2019 Paulding, Seneca residents At Odds in Wind Setback Lawsuit
Trump steps up attack on ‘cancer-causing’ wind power-US president also asserts wind turbines destroy property values and are a ‘graveyard’ for birds By Richard Kessler in Fort Worth 03 April 2019Updated 04 April 2019
RECHARGE US bat deterrent trials show rise in energy output –Annual energy production from wind farms in bat-infested regions could be upped 2% and turbine-strikes reduced an average 67%. by Darius Snieckus 03 April 2019Updated 03 April 2019