BigWind blows hot air in Ohio

The Energy Generation Subcommittee continued its hearings on April 24th with more calls for reducing wind setbacks and more protests from wind and solar advocates who do not want to compete with more reliable and available clean energy sources.  The hearings can be seen on the Ohio Channel at .   We encourage you to go to the link at look at Part One at about 43 minutes to watch Michael Shellenberger’s testimony in favor of the bill.  Shellenberger has written prolifically Forbes magazine against wind’s gigantic footprint which destroys the landscape, habitat and the environment generally.     In Part Three at 1hr 45.36 Susan Munroe of Chambers for Innovation spews a bunch of nonsense about Blue Creek in Van Wert County and misrepresents the impacts of safe setbacks.  She claims on behalf of Paulding County that they want all the wind they can get.  

A revised Clean Energy bill will be introduced next week and hearings will resume before the full House Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

On  Tuesday, the Ohio Power Siting Board conducted a “workshop” to determine whether rules should be established for blade shear.  The workshop can be viewed at:

Julie Johnson testified against a setback reduction and argued that the failure of OPSB to require incident reporting, independent investigation and public access to incident reports results in the inability of landowners and persons who sign Good Neighbor Agreements to give “informed consent” to the waiver of setbacks.  They can unwittingly impose risk upon others who may live on, work on or visit properties within the range of a debris field if a turbine fails.   Terry Rittenhouse pointed out in his testimony that while the wind companies claim that blade failure is an extremely rare event, Ohio has experienced a 100% failure rate with incidents occurring at Hog Creek in Hardin County, Blue Creek in Van Wert County and Timber Road in Paulding County.   In two incidents, fragments traveled further than the current setbacks.

Gary Biglin also spoke on behalf of those residing in Richland County near the Blackfork Wind project.  Dennis Schriener, a nuclear engineer who specializes in safety, spoke as well. Schreiner resides near the proposed Apex project called Emerson Creek in Huron County.   He described his efforts to find safety standard information and said it was not publicly available in the United States and that he had to secure information when he was out of the country in Brazil.  The information he obtained specified a safety setback of 1,640 feet.  We have seen this specification in Nordex materials.  

The workshop was disappointing in that  there was no give and take discussion.  It was similar to a public hearing where the Administrative Law Judge sits in silence and listens.  After the citizen testimony, no wind developer (if any were present) spoke.  Michael Settineri, the Vorys attorney who represents many wind developers, popped up and said he could not let the moment pass and encouraged the OPSB not to promulgate a rule because it might undermine investor confidence.  He suggested that any incident reporting be made a part of a certificate condition and remain a matter between the OPSB and the wind operator.   It was a foolish comment given the testimony.  The OPSB will now take the information provided to them and draft a rule.  The proposed rule will be subject to public comment before adoption.  This is a good step forward by the new leadership of the OPSB which has prior to now, ignored public safety.

Ohio House Democrats O’Brien and Skindell have introduced HB 223 to repeal existing property line setbacks.  Perhaps it is their intention to have the language folded into the Clean Energy bill since so many witnesses demanded it.  To date, Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, has rejected requests to consider setbacks in the Clean Energy bill.    A sampling of news stories related to the Clean Energy bill are included below….

In other news:

  • AEP is taking bids to set up energy purchase agreements for solar or wind facilities that are operational or coming online soon within the 13-state footprint of PJM. It will seek 10-year agreements for wind and solar projects online now as well as 15-year solar and 12-year wind agreements, for facilities that begin operation between 2020 and 2023, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  
  • PV magazine says “As we’ve noted before, Ohio is not the first state that most people think of when they think solar. At the end of last year the state had only 202 MWdc installed, placing it in the bottom half of installed capacity nationally, and SEIA’s project database did not show any larger than 20 MW. Despite this humble start, Wood Mackenzie ranks Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, and a look at the status of some of the leading projects explains why.”  “Six projects totaling over 1 GWac that have siting board approval, interconnection agreements and/or PPAs, suggesting that large-scale solar development is about to take off in a big way.”
  • Filings on the OPSB website show Republic Wind LLC and OPSB staff Friday requested a 90-day extension to allow the company more time to submit information for the staff investigation report.  Perhaps Republic is waiting to see if legislation to repeal property line setbacks is sneaked into the budget by Sen. Dolan, slips into the Clean Energy Bill or is passed as standalone legislation.
  • The FAA has awarded the state with a certificate of authorization allowing it test defense-related drone technology without reliance on a visual observer or chase aircraft. Typically, drones can only fly within the uninterrupted line of sight of the person operating the UAS, but the special waiver allows AFRL and the Ohio UAS Center, which is part of the Ohio Department of Transportation’s DriveOhio Initiative, to use SkyVision to test drones beyond the visual line of sight within a 200 square-mile parcel of unrestricted airspace near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.   We wonder if this program would prevent turbine development in the area?