BigWind is about to cause damage to Ohioans

Screen Shot 2020-08-24 at 8.45.01 AM

The debate over repeal of HB 6 continues with some speculating the Ohio Senate will repeal the law before the election.  No word on what the House might do.  It is clear to us that whatever happens, the citizens of NW Ohio will wind up as some sort of collateral damage.  There are powerful lobbyists on all sides including the so-called “environmentalists”.  They all have a great deal of money swimming through this swamp. Notwithstanding, the people of NW Ohio are continuing with vigor to protect their homes and surrounding habitat on a very lop-sided playing field.   Nothing can protect the people and bring equity to the fight except giving the vote to the people through the referendum.  The greens in Cleveland who want their renewable mandates, the wind lobby that wants reduced setbacks, the media which is all in for a New Green Deal could care less about the consequences of their ambitions. 

Six utility solar projects are in the pre-application stage at the Ohio Power Siting Board along with one new wind factory, the 150 MW Grover Hill in Paulding County. Grover Hill has a presentation available at https://groverhillwind.us/presentation where they note the project will host up to 38 turbines depending on the site and setbacks.  This implies turbines in the 3.5 MW range.  The grid operator PJM has determined the project will have a 19.5 MW capacity value. This project is being developed by Starwood Energy Group, an affiliate of the Starwood investment banking group based in Greenwich, CT.  They developed an earlier project in Paulding called Northwest Ohio Wind Project which was sold to CMS Energy, headquartered in Jackson, MI.  GM will purchase the power under a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement. According to Starwood, Paulding County government officials contacted them and encouraged the developer to undertake further expansion in Paulding County.

There are 8 industrial solar projects in the full application phase at OPSB along with the Republic Wind and Emerson Creek Wind projects.  A public hearing was held this past week via electronic means and many people testified both in support of and opposed to Emerson Creek (aka Firelands)  The local opponents did a good job expressing their concerns for wildlife, safety and property values.  

The hearing can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbj9R5vo89A&feature=youtu.be&t=1507.  OPSB Chairman Randazzo participated in the hearing and asked a number of questions on both sides.

TURBINES STILL GROWING:  According to G.E., the 3MW and above platform market largely centers on Texas, midwestern states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, and the Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Projects in California and New Mexico are also using them.  It is unthinkable that any developer would compare NW Ohio with these other more sparsely populated states.

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY:  The final hearing on the County’s proposed Comprehensive Land Use Plan has been scheduled for Thursday, September 24, 2020 at 10:30AM in the Auditorium of the Community Center.   It is important that as many Champaign Countians as possible attend this hearing to express support for the Plan.   Listed below are the vision statements, none of which indicate a priority or vision for industrial wind or solar energy.  In fact, we believe converting farmland to solar arrays is contrary to the Plan.   When the OPSB reviews energy projects going forward, they will consider whether applications are consistent with the local Comprehensive Plan.   Please put this meeting on your calendar.  

The broad vision statements included in this plan are:

• Preservation of farmland resources, promotion of agriculture through public education and tourism events, protection of water quality, and an economic environment supportive of diversified crops. 

• To stimulate economic growth throughout Champaign County, Ohio by strengthening the County’s competitive position and facilitating investments that build capacity with existing businesses, create jobs, generate economic opportunity, and improve the quality of life. 

• Encouragement of efficient housing policies that repurpose, redevelop, and reoccupy areas of the County with services. In this instance, efficiency refers to proximity to existing public services.

• Advocate for land use decisions supportive of existing areas of development and industries, and preservation and protection of the County’s natural resources, rural character, and small-town atmosphere through careful decision-making. 

• Build on successful recreational initiatives, implement new amenities, increase connectivity between facilities, improve the physical and mental wellness of the citizens, and preserve natural, historical, and cuturally important resources.

• View transportation activities through the lens of transportation safety; network connectivity, reliability, and efficiency; improve and expand multi-modal access; support eonomic vitality; and being good stewards of the transportation network.

• To see the preservation of the County’s rural character and development of the majority of residential, commercial, and industrial in areas where public services are already available or nearby.

The full draft plan can be viewed at https://2614136b-fd50-499b-9466-da7a47425c09.filesusr.com/ugd/540e57_a15383ded7e74e4b946fefda81969623.pdf

SOLAR TOXIC WASTE – By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects that up to 78 million metric tons of solar panels will have reached the end of their life, and that the world will be generating about 6 million metric tons of new solar e-waste annually. While the latter number is a small fraction of the total e-waste humanity produces each year, standard electronics recycling methods don’t cut it for solar panels. …“If we don’t mandate recycling, many of the modules will go to landfill,” said Arizona State University solar researcher Meng Tao, who recently authored a review paper on recycling silicon solar panels, which comprise 95  percent of the solar market…. When these panels enter landfills, valuable resources go to waste. And because solar panels contain toxic materials like lead that can leach out as they break down, landfilling also creates new environmental hazards.  ….Most solar manufacturers claim their panels will last for about 25 years, and the world didn’t start deploying solar widely until the early 2000s. As a result, a fairly small number of solar panels are being decommissioned today. PV CYCLE, a nonprofit dedicated to solar panel takeback and recycling, collects several thousand tons of solar e-waste across the European Union each year, according to director Jan Clyncke. That figure includes solar panels that have reached the end of their life, but also those that were decommissioned early because they were damaged during a storm, had some sort of manufacturer defect, or got replaced with a newer, more efficient model.  According to the article below, Washington is the only state with laws to regulate solar waste.  We are also not aware of any Ohio regulations concerning decommissioning solar facilities.   County government should have their eyes wide open when industrial solar fields are proposed for their area.

FIRE RISK REAL FOR WIND AND SOLAR – Of all the renewable technologies, wind power presents the highest risk when it comes to fires. According to a recent report, the average wind farm can expect two significant fire incidents in a turbine’s lifecycle. Given that turbine fires cost $4.5 million in damages on average, that’s cause for concern.   … Solar panels present a much lower risk of fire than wind turbines, but could still pose a threat. Since solar power is so popular, hazards are more of a concern because of the sheer number of installations. In the U.S. alone, there are nearly 2 millions solar installations, and that number keeps growing. Germany, a world leader in solar power, reports that less than half of fires involving solar panels result from the systems themselves. As a result, it seems that a substantial portion of PV fires come from factors like design flaws, while most are from outside elements. Given the price of solar panels, though, any flames could cause substantial losses. Solar panels can get remarkably hot, which poses a risk if any flammable materials are nearby. Rushed or faulty installation could also lead to problems with electrical arcs igniting fires. 

The Complete Guide to Wind Turbine Fire Protection includes practical advice and recommendations for investment into fire suppression systems based on turbine size and cost. Even after accounting for the likelihood of a fire, once a turbine’s capacity exceeds 3MW, the cost of fire suppression to protect all three risk areas is outweighed by the cost of replacing that turbine. 

EDF’s portfolio continues to shift toward solar

Long one of the country’s leading renewables developers, EDF Renewables North America is planning to complete 2 gigawatts of capacity in the U.S. this year, more than it ever has, CEO Tristan Grimbert told GTM.  “It’s also likely the most difficult year in terms of bringing all that [capacity] to market,” Grimbert added, referring to coronavirus-related delays and other challenges.  He said the company is benefiting from having had an unusually advanced construction program in 2020, to make sure its projects were finished well before the end-of-year deadline for federal wind-energy tax credits. “That’s given us the ability to slide a little bit,” Grimbert said. 2020 and 2021 will be peak years for U.S. renewables construction due to the tax credit deadlines, but EDF believes the market will recover quickly as the technology mix evolves. “In the past, our portfolio was 85 percent wind,” Grimbert said. “If you look into the future, we’re like 70 percent solar.”   

It is notable that in one of the U.S. renewable energy market’s biggest deals in a challenging year, Masdar is set to acquire a 50 percent stake in a 1.6-gigawatt portfolio of advanced wind, solar and energy storage projects from EDF Renewables North America.  The deal, expected to close later this year, represents a new front in the global renewables collaboration between EDF and Masdar, which to date has largely focused on the Middle East and North Africa.  State-owned Masdar, part of the United Arab Emirates’ Mubadala Investment Corp.

EDF has proposed building a solar facility in Shelby County near Anna.  Information on a meeting held in Anna last year is provided below.

ICEBREAKER – The request for reconsideration of the conditions on the Lake Erie LEEDCo Icebreaker project will not be heard this coming week at the OPSB.  The matter may be scheduled for September.  In the meantime, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory has issued a Call to Action for the community to send letters to the OPSB in support of keeping the protective condition which requires feathering the blades during the migratory period.

PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT – Lisa  Linowes of Wind Action and a founder of the Wildlife, Energy & Community Coalition has published a three-part overview of the Production Tax Credit on MasterResource.  We have compiled the three parts below for your review.  This is an excellent resource! Find it at Wind-Watch.org

Toledo Blade article