The Big Data (Amazon) Center ‘Deception’

As the year ended, Senator Matt Dolan’s New Year’s Resolution appears to be his commitment to re-introduce his wind turbine setback legislation as fast as he can in 2019.  Speaking to the statehouse news service, “Sen. Dolan said he plans to continue working to better inform his colleagues about the issue, describing it as an “education process.”   That would otherwise be known as a “disinformation” campaign and will require State Senators and Representatives in the NW quadrant of Ohio to be effective spokespersons skilled at countering the fake news.  By way of example, Sen. Bob Hackett of Madison County is adamant that there are no setbacks in any state bordering Ohio that are longer than Ohio’s.  Because he has been misled, Hackett intends to help Sen. Dolan in the 133rd General Assembly as a co-sponsor of a setback bill.  

The Senate will return to session to start the 133rd General Assembly on Monday, Jan. 7. The Senate’s calendar calls for members to be back in Columbus for a full session after that on January 30. The committee hearing process is set to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 5.  The House has yet to release its session schedule for the new year.

In addition to setback legislation, the Senate is likely to consider a ZEN bill which provides a Zero Emissions Nuclear energy program to bail out First Energy.  Not surprisingly, this idea is vigorously opposed by left-wing groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists who think support for nuclear energy is a way to block clean/renewable energy.   Whatever the outcome, there is no way some wind farms in NW Ohio can replace the jobs lost or devastating economic dislocation brought about by the closing of nuclear facilities. Nuclear facilities employee MANY people and provide HIGH paying jobs….UNLIKE BigWind.

One of principal arguments for wind and solar development put forward by politicians is the need to have renewable energy available for the new tech economy and, in particular, fast growing data centers. We decided to look into this a little deeper and were surprised to find that Amazon Web Services does not support that view. In fact, their much touted contract to buy the power generated by EverPower’s Scioto Ridge (aka Hardin Wind) in Hardin and parts of Logan County was quietly ripped up in 2017.

In a December 14, 2018 press report from The Information, a “senior AWS executive told colleagues inside the company that renewable energy projects are too costly and don’t help it win business.”  The article goes on to say that data center operators purchase wind for “the public relations benefits that come from being good corporate citizens and also to lock in long-term power supply contracts.  In a moment of candor, Amazon admits renewables are too costly and they have not made any wind purchases in over two years since they walked away from EverPower’s Scioto Ridge.  CONFIRMATION OF OUR MESSAGE FOR YEARS!!

Greenpeace, Sierra and other environmental activists are going after Amazon to force them into achieving 100% renewable power by 2020.  That is a tall order.  Amazon currently stands at 50%+ renewable.  It is sickening that the charade of renewable energy being able to affordably and reliably power intensive energy users is allowed to warp reasoned energy policy.  It is worse that politicians like Senator Dolan play a part in this charade.

In the meantime, earlier this month Ohio Montauk Innovations LLC, a Google data center affiliate, received a set of incentives from the State of Ohio for a $600 million data center in New Albany, a high income suburb of Columbus. The project is intended to create $2.5 million in payroll.  The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 100 percent, 15-year data center sales tax exemption, though it has the option to be renewed for up to 40 years through October 30, 2058.  That agreement would be worth $43.5 million over the life of the tax credit, which it can claim on sales and use taxes associated with data center equipment purchases at the site. 

Approximately one mile from the new Google data center, Facebook is building a $750 million data center.  A recent look at national data center development by Data Center Dynamics explains that “the American Midwest has become a region of choice for colocation and data center investments, offering a cost-effective and reliable alternative to many densely populated coastal regions. Also, being centrally located between both coasts affords an abundance of network connectivity and affordable power, it’s pretty easy to understand why this region continues to develop. “   

Given the above, we can say once again that the “emperor has no clothes”.   Data Centers aren’t waiting on reduced wind turbine setbacks or renewable energy mandates in Ohio to build.   But data centers  do need affordable energy.   If they are forced to buy Ohio renewables by environmental activists and politicians who want to look ‘green,’  that high-cost energy would need to be made cheaper by federal PTC subsidies, county Payments-in-Lieu-of Tax (PILOT), and stolen easements across non-participating properties through setbacks measured from homes.   Otherwise, data centers can buy cheaper renewables from windier states.  They could also buy nuclear energy which eco-activists oppose despite it being clean energy.   And then there is always natural gas! Or clean coal!

An important article in this issue speaks to “energy realism” as demonstrated by the United States at the recent climate conference in Poland.  “There are reasonable nations who are willing to confront the fundamental financial and technological realities of today’s energy landscape. By hosting a side panel at the climate talks focusing on how nuclear energy and technology to burn fossil fuels cleanly can contribute to achieving emissions goals, the U.S. has positioned itself firmly as the leader of the latter.”

 “The Trump administration’s willingness to shake off pressure from other developed countries to focus exclusively on renewable energy fits into the policy of energy realism which has characterized Rick Perry’s tenure at the U.S. Energy Department. Secretary Perry laid out his vision for American energy policy in March at the CERA Week energy conference in Houston, emphasizing that “we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and caring for our environment. By embracing innovation over regulation, we can benefit both.” 

 Elsewhere:

 

sPower has opened an office in downtown Tiffin to promote its Seneca Wind project.    A Seneca County resident pens an excellent Letter to the Editor on why wind developments do not belong in Seneca County.

In Lancaster County, Nebraska, local zoning for noise was changed at the request of NextEra.  The newly approved rules set a 50-decibel upper limit around the clock for participating property owners. There is no change in the county noise rules for nonparticipating landowners.  It was noted that most of the participating landowners do not live in the project area and will be unaffected by the change.  

In Pennsylvania, a township zoning board denied an application by Atlantic Wind to build a wind facility. “The decision was met with applause and cheers from township residents, whom religiously attended zoning hearings to make their opposition to the project clear. Among their primary concerns were water quality, noise and sight disturbances form the turbines, its close proximity to the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the potential harm the turbines could inflict on birds and bats.”

 Apex sold its second project in Illinois to Liberty Power, a unit of Canadian Algonquin Power.  Upon completion, the Sugar Creek project will then be sold to Atlantica Yield.  It’s all about the money!  It appears that the Apex model is to sell projects, raise money and develop more.  They may not be a long term partner in any community.   In South Dakota, Apex sold the 151MW Dakota Range III wind project to French independent power producer Engie. 

BP has also sold three wind developments.  “The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, underscores the churn taking place in the US wind market as the reduction of the federal wind tax credit and growing cost-competitiveness of wind energy brings in new types of investors, including many deep-pocketed asset managers and pension funds.  It also highlights the move to repower or upgrade projects across the 90GW US wind fleet, as projects built in the market’s early years begin to show their age.”  Vestas will fulfill the orders for the upgrade.  A Vestas executive remarked that “With the exponential advancements in wind technology over the last decade, the turbines of today barely resemble the turbines of yesterday,” says Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the US and Canada.”   This makes the case for full OPSB review of any amendments to projects that were previously approved.

CleanTechnica, a left-wing renewable advocate raves about the momentum in wind development as though it will replace coal. They also tout its (albeit subsidized) price competitiveness.

Finally, Ohio has moved into the top five for recoverable shale natural gas reserves in the United States.  Data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the state saw a 24.5 percent increase in proved shale gas reserves from 2016 to 2017, bringing it to 25.6 trillion cubic feet. That moves Ohio past Oklahoma and behind only Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Louisiana.  We say – if you’ve got it, flaunt it!…

Monday, December 24, 2018

Senate Sponsor Vows to Continue Efforts to Revise Wind Setbacks in Next General Assembly

 

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said he hasn’t given up on revising Ohio’s wind turbine setback laws despite legislative inaction this session.

 

Although the House and Senate are expected to return to wrap up final business this week, Sen. Dolan’s attempts to gain caucus support for his proposal to loosen setbacks (SB 239) seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

 

Sen. Dolan says he doesn’t expect any last-minute amendment to accomplish his goal during lame duck. The setbacks were controversially increased in 2014 when the House amended a separate bill (HB483, 130th General Assembly) hours before its passage, increasing restrictions in a way wind supporters say stifled the industry.

 

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t even get hearings on the bill in practically the last year,” Sen. Dolan said in an interview. “I’ll bring it right back up.”

 

His proposal would have increased the setback to 1.2 times the blade’s length – up from the current 1.1 times – while at the same time requiring the minimum distance from the nearest blade to be measured from the nearest residential structure rather than the nearest property line. The net impact of those changes would shorten the required setback.

 

Sen. Dolan said the crux of the proposal will likely remain the same when he reintroduces it next year.

 

“I drove up to northwest Ohio and met with a lot of folks up there so there are some minor changes I could make as to the process and we could monkey a little with the distance too but it’s the same concept,” he said.

Democrats too are likely to renew their own efforts on setbacks. Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Sen. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) also authored measures to revise setbacks this year, although with a Republican supermajority in both chambers it was Sen. Dolan’s bill – and its predecessor from former Sen. Cliff Hite – that received the most consideration.

 

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) continues to say that a “significant portion” of his caucus believes the current setbacks are too restrictive.

 

But the House, which inserted the original amendment, has been more reluctant and fought hard against Senate-proposed revisions during the last budget. They’ve argued lowering the threshold would place homeowners at risk of being hit by ice or blades in the case of a failure.

 

Sen. Dolan said he plans to continue working to better inform his colleagues about the issue, describing it as an “education process.”

 

“On a macro level we need to make sure when we say we’re an all the above energy state we truly are so that on a micro level those that wish to invest in alternative energy know Ohio’s a safe place to invest, that those who want to purchase their power from alternative energy know Ohio will produce it for them,” Sen. Dolan said.

 

“So, it’s a bill that looks toward tomorrow more than anything,” he continued. “What worries me is if we dig our heels in in allowing new development – not only energy – it sends a message to other industries too that anything new, anything cutting edge, anything a little bit controversial Ohio’s going to shrink from? No. Ohio’s got to work to make sure we’re welcoming that type of innovation. That’s why it’s so important to me.”

 

Business leaders have also increasingly pressed lawmakers to act on the issue. Most recently, a coalition of Ohio corporations urged policymakers to adopt a more consistent approach to energy policy, including revising the setbacks.

 

Meanwhile, a group of Paulding County farmers last month filed a lawsuit in common pleas court against the state alleging the 2014 amendment violated the single-subject provisions of the Ohio Constitution.

 

It’s been a great week for BigWind in Ohio

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It has been a crazy week at the Statehouse.  The picture is becoming just a little clearer to us and it seems that the bill which Sen. Beagle drafted as Sub. HB 114 was NOT what had been expected.  Many were surprised that there was any setback language in the bill at all.  Equally surprising was the restoration of mandates even though the mandated amounts were reduced.  The House had worked hard to change the mandates to goals.  The Senate undid their good work.  All is up in the air.  

In the meantime, HB 604 was referred to the Public Utilities Committee for Sponsor testimony this coming Tuesday afternoon.  HB 604 changes the property line setbacks and it makes the PILOT program for tax abatement permanent.  It is not known whether there will actually be hearings on the bill after Rep. Strahorn (D-Dayton) gives his remarks next week.  One gossip sheet report we saw this week said:

“John Kasich, Ryan Smith, and their allies have fervently embraced well financed left coast, left wing organizations that are pushing solar and wind for Ohio.  At the same time, they are fervently opposed to both coal and nuclear power. As far as they are concerned every coal and nuclear plant in Ohio can close and consumers, investors, and taxpayers can be damned. Householder and his allies believe in more of an all of the above approach versus an either-or approach on energy issues.  They know that energy demand in Ohio and across the nation is increasing swiftly and we need coal, gas, hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind to meet the demand inexpensively.  They believe that Ohio remaining a low-cost energy producer is absolutely crucial to growing our economic base.” 

Tuesday morning, Conservatives for Clean Energy is holding a press conference at the Statehouse presumably to stage a theatrical act to convince Republican lawmakers to move swiftly on Sub. HB 114 or even SB 238 before summer recess.  An  article from earlier this year from the Washington Examiner lambasting the Conservatives for Clean Energy: “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, which appears to be little more than a front group for purveyors of wind and solar power, who will stop at nothing to keep their industry from having to stand on its own two feet. And that includes presenting themselves as conservative when, in fact, they are garden-variety hustlers looking for a handout.”

Apex has weighed in on Sub HB 114 saying, “The bill includes local engagement requirements, such as public meetings and letters to all adjacent landowners, and preserves ‘local control’ through county government consideration of property tax treatment for wind facilities,” Mr. Goodwin said. “We encourage the legislature and Governor Kasich to approve this measure before the summer recess to allow billions of dollars of investment from utility-scale wind development in Ohio to proceed.”   Ridiculous!  Every community facing the threat of wind knows that unwitting leaseholders are signed up long before the projects become public.  A requirement that public notice be given 60 days before filing with OPSB is laughable.  Public information meetings are also currently required and anyone who has ever been to one knows they are worthless and project maps on display show no roads or boundaries.  Finally, the notion that the County Commissioner’s authority to abate taxes has NOTHING to do with local input on setbacks or the ability of a community to determine if a project is a net benefit or a net harm.

Finally, we thought we would refresh your memories on what Senator Dolan said about his bill last winter when interviewed: “The setbacks were moved to a distance that really made it nearly impossible for wind farms to develop economically,” Dolan said”  Dolan may be telling the truth here.  Projects could be built if wind developers were willing to pay neighboring landowners enough money to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement.   Would it cost them a little more? Probably.  But taking it on an uncompensated basis by the action of the legislature would be more “economical”.  We guess that it really is just another handout to prop up the business.

In other news, just when BigWind convinces you that Ohio setbacks restrict their business

  • When Amazon, recently, announced a new facility in Madison County that will employ 1,500 people, Rep. Bill Seitz was quick to point out to his colleagues that “One of the most easily debunked arguments made by advocates of reduced wind turbine setbacks and for the retention of renewable mandates is that such is needed to attract companies like Amazon”.

 

  • Likewise, a solar company announced plans to open an office in Central Ohio despite no special mandates or handouts.  “A growing North Carolina business specializing in solar energy and roofing is planning a new office in Worthington.  Power Home Solar…as it looks to establish a market in Central Ohio. It says it ultimately looks to employ 65 to 70 in its local roofing operations. It’s looking to hire a mix of back-office staff, salespeople and installers. Founded in 2015 in Mooresville, North Carolina, the company has been listed on the Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing private companies.”

solar news

setback changes

look out!

 

 

‘The’ Weather Channel attacks conservative Ohio citizens

It was quite a week.  “Head spinning” – to use a wind term.   One thing is clear, Apex is under attack in many communities (across America) and it is interesting to see the different ways they are dealing with the communities who are challenging them.

The wind industry is pulling out all stops in what appears to be a last ditch effort to hold onto renewable energy mandates and to repeal property line setbacks in Ohio.   The phase out of the federal Production Tax Credits is looming and the risks that a number of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan projects might not meet deadlines or be derailed because of stricter local zoning ordinances is probably driving much of this.  Wind has a lot to lose and we are seeing their aggression in full force.

The Ohio Power Siting Board was directed to go back to the drawing board and redraft their rules on setback waivers which Rep. Bill Seitz challenged as being inconsistent with the law. At issue is how many nonparticipating property owners must sign a waiver in order for the current 1,125 foot setback to be suspended.  It is anticipated OPSB will refile their rule at the end of the month.

The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum released a questionable state-wide poll of “conservative Ohio voters”  finding that 85 percent would pay something extra in their monthly bills for power generated by renewable technologies such as wind and solar. “Nearly half of those polled said they would be willing to pay between $10 and $20 extra every month for green power. The release of the polling results by the Ohio CEF comes as state lawmakers begin hearings on legislation mandating renewable energy, minimum property setback rules for wind turbines, as well as new subsidies for old coal and nuclear power plants.”  The poll results are being used to lobby for increased mandates and reduced wind turbine setbacks.   

In response to the Conservative Energy Forum “poll,”  Rep. Bill Seitz (who has been working tirelessly to pass HB 114 repealing mandates) unleashed one of his signature diatribes against the CEF.  In an open letter to members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, Seitz takes on the CEF point by point.  THIS IS A MUST READ!   Seitz makes the point that if Ohioans are so supportive of wind, there should be no opposition to giving local township voters a say in the matter.  “If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).”

Attacks from the wind lobby and the radical left were aided by extremist publication Inside Climate News who with the Weather Channel prepared a 13 minute video documentary called Killing Clean pummeling Rep. Seitz and any Ohio lawmaker who would oppose renewable mandates and other pro-wind policies.   This is a vicious production full of inaccurate reporting – but it also features our own Van Wert warrior, Jeremy Kitson.  We regard these polls and attacks as a sign of desperation and a call for all wind warriors to fight back by staying in constant touch with your local elected officials to prove that the wind lobby is spreading falsehoods.

On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held its first hearing on SB 238 to repeal property line setbacks.  Bill sponsor Sen. Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls provided testimony and offered an amendment to the bill specifically stating county engineers’ responsibility to make sure wind developers restore damaged roads or infrastructure to their condition prior to development. It also states police and fire personnel must be trained for emergencies stemming from wind farms.   Dolan asserted that while these provisions were already in the law, he was clarifying them as part of demonstrating that local control of wind development already exists.  Good grief.   There are no further hearings scheduled at this time.

In Huron County, local wind warriors provided information to the County Commissioners in opposition to their possible consideration of designating the county as an Alternative Energy Zone (“AEZ”).   An AEZ makes PILOT automatic anywhere in the County. This designation is being pushed by Apex who threatens that they will not proceed with the Emerson Creek project unless they receive tax abatement through the PILOT program.   In addition, Sam Randazzo wrote an opinion piece for the local Norwalk paper further describing the negative consequences of PILOT.  THIS IS MUST READ.   Among Randazzo’s points is “For example, the commissioners indicated that the state (and more specifically the Ohio Power Siting Board) would make sure that any Apex wind farm would not negatively affect the environment. Most of the local property owners who have been active in Ohio Power Siting Board proceedings know that the Ohio Power Siting Board is either unwilling or unable to protect the public interest.   For example, as I explained in the attached prepared statement, the Ohio Power Siting Board lacks technical expertise to evaluate proposed wind farms and has typically used a method of evaluating wind turbine noise output that is unacceptable for use in rural areas. The Ohio Power Siting Board also has ignored minimum safe distance warnings of wind turbine manufacturers with regard to ice throw and fire risks.”

 Bowling Green is touting its reputation as the “Greenest City in Ohio” drawing 41 percent of total power usage from sustainable energy sources, providing a home to Ohio’s largest solar field and the state’s first utility-sized wind farm.  Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green is a co-sponsor of SB 238 to reduce setbacks.   We note, however, that while  the local wind farm located on a landfill outside of town was the first in the state, it was also the last for Bowling Green which has turned to solar and hydro.  But hey – why not let the good green people of Bowling “Green” have all the turbines and reduced setbacks they want?  Why don’t they start with declaring Wood an Alternative Energy Zone?

At the Ohio Public Utilities Commission a hearing took place to reconsider whether a November ruling should be changed.  The PUCO ruling reduced the amount that private owners of wind turbines and solar panels can receive for selling excess power back to the utility.   PUCO’s concern was that as more and more consumers and businesses generate their own power, others who rely on their utility will have to shoulder a higher cost of maintaining the grid.  ONE Energy of Findlay which supplies wind turbines to Ohio manufacturers was among those criticizing the November ruling.

The PUCO has ordered the state’s utilities to prepare to lower rates it has been charging customers to “recover” federal taxes, as allowed by state law. The commission reasons that the lower tax bills utilities will now enjoy because of the cut in federal corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent should go to customers. Under state law, the regulated utilities can pass along tax burdens to customers.   The PUCO also agreed to give Amazon a discount on the rate it will pay for electricity….. If electricity rates rise, in the future, do you think Amazon (EXTREMELY PRO WIND) or Ohio ratepayers will pay for the increase??

COMMUNICATION TO ALL HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS & GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FROM REP. BILL SEITZ     January 12, 2018

 

The wind lobby is ramping up its minions to tout a new “statewide poll” commissioned by the (astroturf) Ohio Conservative Energy Forum purporting to show that conservatives “overwhelmingly support clean energy policies.” They even went so far as to draft “social media posts that we’d appreciate your help in amplifying the message and results.”

 

I’m here to do my part to “amplify the message” with some inconvenient truths. Here goes.

 

CLAIM:

“76% of conservative voters SUPPORT changing setback limits to allow more wind energy development”

 

RESPONSE:

If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).

 

CLAIM:

“85% of conservative voters voiced willingness to personally pay more for their electricity if sourced from renewable energy sources”

 

RESPONSE:

That’s great news, because all Ohioans can make that choice now! As Representative Roegner has amply demonstrated, there are electric suppliers on the PUCO website from whom anyone can buy 100% renewable power if they are indeed willing “to personally pay more.” With that kind of support, mandates are simply unnecessary. All that needs to happen is for those “85% of conservative voters” to put their money where their polling mouth is! A better question, neither asked nor answered by the poll, is: so why aren’t these “conservative voters” taking advantage of the options they currently have to buy energy sourced from renewables? (An inconvenient truth: very few are doing so).

 

CLAIM:

“Conservative voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies”

 

RESPONSE:

You bet they do. But mandates are not a conservative’s way of getting there. True conservatives use their own money to further policies in which they believe. I needed no “mandate” to install rooftop solar on my house last year. Legislation that we have supported promotes customers choosing to opt-in or opt-out of renewable and energy efficiency mandates; expands the definition of efficiency to include more means of becoming efficient; expands the definition of renewables to include additional kinds of renewable energy; and promotes property assessed clean energy as a financing tool to fund energy efficiency projects that businesses and homeowners voluntarily choose to undertake (inconvenient truth: supporting clean energy policies does not mean exporting some people’s policy preferences by having other people pay for those choices).

 

CLAIM:

“Ohio conservatives are ready to allow the farmers the opportunity to decide what’s best for their business and property.”

 

RESPONSE:

Conservatives also believe that farmers’ private property rights don’t extend to stealing their neighbors’ land to satisfy the required setbacks of wind turbines from neighbors’ property lines. Farmers and their neighbors should be allowed to waive required setbacks (current law allows this), and they should be able to enjoy a local vote on whether setbacks should be reduced to promote wind farms. And when those farmers are deciding what’s best, maybe they need to know the inconvenient truth: according to the world’s leading renewable energy insurance underwriter, every year on average there are 3,800 incidents of blade failure, 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure, and 50 turbine fires—each with an average claims cost of $4.5 million. See attached May 23, 2017 article.

 

CLAIM:

“Conservatives realize that if Ohio wants to attract businesses such as Amazon and Facebook, renewable energy is key”

 

RESPONSE:

And both under current Ohio law and HB 114, Amazon and Facebook are free to buy as much renewable energy as they want. They just want YOUR constituents to pay the premium! Not very conservative. The inconvenient truth: if “renewable energy is key” to Amazon’s business location, then why did Amazon spend over $1 billion to locate in Kentucky—a state with NO MANDATES and NO WIND FARMS?

 

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to give me a call. Even if the poll is correct, it only proves that the path we are taking is consistent with what true conservative energy voters want.

 

Sincerely,

 

William J. Seitz

The BigWind ‘Everpower’ful bully in Ohio

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How many of you use Amazon to purchase your Christmas items? Amazon has put up a smokescreen by agreeing to purchase the power from this new industrial wind site. They can not operate their data centers on wind energy, alone, and they refuse to build an industrial wind energy site on their own property.  Instead, like cowards, they connect electrical lines to an upgraded station, near their new data site, and then agree to purchase intermittent power that is produced hundreds of miles away….

On Facebook, Fight the Wind
Yesterday at 2:32pm ·
A trusted source had a meeting with Jason Dagger recently and reported the following:
EverPower still may build between 1-9 turbines in Logan County, WITHOUT a PILOT. If you recall, EverPower said they would not build in Logan County without a PILOT because it didn’t make financial sense. Jason is now stating that the state has given them better clarification on the taxing structure and it looks like they will be OK to build in LC. (EverPower is still permitted to build up to 19 turbines in Logan County.)
• If you also recall, EverPower has stated all along they want to be a ‘good neighbor’. Logan County and its residents clearly did not and do not want turbines in Logan County as evidenced by the denial of the PILOT. How can EverPower be a good neighbor and still build? Jason’s response was: ‘It’s about the money; all the power in Hardin County has been sold, the turbines in Logan County would be for profit.’
• When asked if EverPower would be alerting non-participating neighboring residents whether they would be notified of the possibility of turbine construction, Jason’s response was: ‘Why would we do that?’
Jason is also stating they no longer need a Road Use Maintenance Agreement in Logan County since they are now only coming off of state routes.
And the kicker….after years of EverPower touting the local jobs this project would create, Jason said they had narrowed down two general contractors for the job. Who are they? White Construction from Indiana and Mortenson Construction out of Denver, Colorado. How is that for local?…

 

What does the election mean for BigWind in Ohio?

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By the time the next edition of Wind News is published, the election will be over and everyone will be sorting through the results to derive meaning. Election Day is the due date for Reply Comments to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s draft rules. The General Assembly will swing into its year-end session and tackle the mandate freeze while developers will press to revise property line setbacks. On the national level, wind developers will be racing to secure full access to the federal Production Tax Credit before December 31st. One thing feels certain with the election of Clinton…wind turbines could spread like a wildfire across our great lands.

One of the races we will be watching is in Vermont where Iberdrola is trying to buy an election by promising to pay residents of two towns where the Stiles Brook Wind Project is proposed to be built. “ Iberdrola has said such benefits are common at its energy projects. But Stiles Brook opponents cried foul, equating the partnership payments to a bribe.” The Vermont Secretary of State, Jim Condos, asserts “In a democracy, a ballot item should pass or fail on its own merits and not because of cash incentives.” He worries that payment offers “could conceivably invite a bidding war between competing ‘partnerships’ on every controversial ballot item.” “There is what’s legal and there is what’s right, and those are not always the same thing,” Condos wrote.”

In other campaign news, we were amused by the Midwest Energy News story – Midwest is published by RE-AMP whose members include The League of Conservation Voters and Ohio Environmental Council. The article whines about the campaign spending by fossil fuel groups as opposed to the penniless greenies who just want a better world (albeit one presumably without heat or light). When the LCV announced earlier this year that it would coordinate efforts in Ohio with the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters said, “Our environment should not be a partisan issue, and preserving it should not be controversial.” We juxtapose this story with one from Energy and Environment News headlined: Green groups spend over $100M; LCV hits record level. “In a separate announcement, the Sierra Club revealed today that major environmental organizations — including itself, LCV, NextGen Climate Action, EDF Action, the NRDC Action Fund and Environment America — expect to spend more than $100 million on the 2016 cycle.” We suspect a vast left-wing conspiracy. 

Following the money, there has been recent press accounts of Amazon’s purchase of the Scioto Ridge project in Hardin County developed by EverPower. We thought it might be good to reflect on this for a moment as we think about where Governor Kasich stands with respect to the renewable mandate. We know that Amazon’s cloud computing operations use an enormous amount of power and they seek to comfort the green crowd by offsetting their power use with renewables, and specifically wind. What was Amazon’s price for locating in Ohio? Many claim Amazon insists on access to renewable power and perhaps Kasich promised to support the mandate so that Amazon could appease the green lobby. What would Kasich get in return? According to press reports in 2015, Amazon’s location in Ohio would cause all Ohioans to be subject to sales tax on any purchases made through Amazon.com. “Amazon said it estimates it will collect between $150 million and $300 million annually in Ohio sales taxes that are currently the responsibility of consumers to keep track of and pay.” Given that Ohio sales tax revenue has been lagging, that is probably a big deal to the Gov. Ohio also provided $81 million in incentives to Amazon. Too bad the folks in Hardin County had to subsidize Amazon’s electric bill, too.

A million here, a million there and pretty soon you are talking about money. “AEP American Electric Power Company Inc. plans to spend $1 billion on the renewable energy business, in part with funds from the sale of some Ohio power plants. The Columbus-based electric utility is dipping its toe in the sector, as it expects a capital outlay of $17.3 billion from 2017 to 2019, AEP said Tuesday.” “It has formed two related subsidiaries, one that focuses on smaller-scale wind and solar projects and the other focused on larger projects. AEP Onsite Partners is a “behind-the-meter” company, contracting with, for example, a grocery story that wants solar panels on its roof. Customers include schools, hospitals and businesses.” “AEP Renewables is in charge of what AEP CEO Nick Akins describes as “utility-scale” projects. These are the wind and solar farms whose power output is sold via long-term power purchase agreements to other utilities, cities and corporations that demand their businesses run on clean energy.” We’ll take solar, please.

But our favorite for the week is the idiotic letter to the Dispatch Editor from the Ohio Christian Coalition in support of renewable energy and “reworking wind-turbine setback limits.” Perhaps we could introduce these Christians to Moses and the Ten Commandments. We are thinking specifically of the 10th Commandment: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.” If nothing else, wind developers covet the homes, yards, fields and skies of non-participating landowners, known in their own Agreements as “Good Neighbors”….

Thursday November 3, 2016 5:00 AM

Conservative leadership from Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly has produced a business-friendly, job-creating environment in Ohio. I was encouraged to read the Oct. 24 Dispatch.com article, “Report: State support of clean energy could add jobs, cut consumer costs.” The article outlined the economic benefits that clean energy will provide to the Ohio economy.

A striking statistic included the claim that Ohio stands to add enough clean energy jobs to fill Ohio Stadium by 2030 should the General Assembly do the responsible thing and come to a common-sense, “all-of-the-above” energy solution for Ohio.

Conservatives should always be in favor of creating jobs and cutting costs, and that is exactly what a conservative approach to clean-energy reform can provide for millions of Ohioans.

So what does conservative clean energy reform look like? The Ohio Christian Coalition is joining conservatives from around Ohio to advocate for increasing the use of renewable energy by 5 percent in the next five years and reworking wind-turbine setback limits.

Common-sense, conservative energy reform is a winning issue for conservatives across Ohio.

Tyler Duvelius
State director
Ohio Christian Coalition
Columbus

BigWind befriends Amazon to attack Ohioans’ property rights

Ohio wind warrior, Julie Johnson, represents more than just Ohioans who live in Champaign county…safe setbacks protect our citizens, our property rights, our property tax base, and our peace of mind!  Will Amazon build a distribution center in the middle of one of these industrial wind turbine sites? Nope.  Will Amazon actually power one of their sites, entirely, with wind energy? Nope, not from Ohio, because our winds ‘suck’.  Will the Amazon leaders live in the middle of an industrial wind site? Nope. Enough said. Hypocritical?….

The massive online retailer Amazon has weighed in on a proposal aimed at aimed at making it easier to locate and run wind farms in parts of Ohio, saying the state’s current restrictions make it unattractive to build turbines in the state….
But the current, tougher standards are important to protect property owners living near the turbines, testified Julia Johnson of Champaign County. Johnson is a member of Union Neighbors United, a group of residents opposed to the Champaign County wind farm.
“I am here to express the opposition and anger of my community and the hundreds of voters across Northwest Ohio who have worked so hard to protect our property and families with reasonable setbacks from industrial wind turbines,” Johnson testified….
Amazon is working with EDP Renewables to develop a 100 megawatt wind farm in Paulding County under the state’s older, looser rules.

But Ohio’s current restrictions are chilling future investment, said John Stephenson, manager of U.S. public policy for Amazon in testimony on Ohio House Bill 190.

“Unfortunately, Ohio’s wind turbine setback standards enacted a little more than two years ago have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio,” Stephenson said. “In fact, the current setbacks have acted as a moratorium of sorts on new wind development.”
Amazon is bulking up its presence in Ohio, where it has previously announced plans to build two new distribution centers and create as many as 2,000 jobs. The company is also developing data centers in central Ohio.
“Amazon believes the substitute version of HB 190 strikes a balance that would allow wind development in areas of Ohio where it makes the most economic and operational sense and will help bring Ohio more high-tech operations that increasingly depend on renewable energy,” Stephenson testified….

But reducing the distance turbines must be set back from property lines would create safety and noise concerns for residents living in a wind farm’s footprint, Johnson said. She described the proposed bill as a gimmick to repeal the previously established setbacks.
Johnson testified that there are good reasons for the stricter setbacks. She cited nuisances like noise, moving shadows from the turbine blades, and also argued the turbines can affect property values.
“People ask why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have generated so much support in the campaign for president,” Johnson testified. “It is because people are angry and this bill is the kind of legislation that fuels that anger.”

Source: Wind rules debated, Champaign residents oppose changing standards

Will BigWind move closer to its Ohio neighbors?

Yesterday, the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee met to hear proponent testimony on a new version of a bill that would give County Commissioners the authority to reduce statutory setbacks for a “wind farm”. The minimum setback “shall be both” 1.1 times the total height of the turbine (including to tip of blade) to the property line of the “wind farm property” and at least 1,125 feet to the exterior of the nearest habitable residential structure located on adjacent property at the time the application is filed. Before adopting a resolution, the Board of County Commissioners may “consult with the Ohio Power Siting Board.” If a resolution passed in a county is revoked after a wind developer files a notice of intent to build a “wind farm,” the developer will be able to build according to the revoked standards but future projects will be subject current OPSB setbacks of 1,125 feet from the property line. The OPSB may increase the setback for any specific turbine in order to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the neighboring property owner. 

The same old people from Van Wert and Paulding Counties were trotted out to say wind was an economic miracle for their communities, the leaseholders, the schools and so on. Due to other hearings that morning, the hearing was poorly attended. The revised proposal was offered by Alliance Republican Kristina Hagan. Highlights of the day included the question asked to Susan Munroe of the Van Wert Chamber on why County Commissioners were in a better position to make decisions on setbacks than the property owners. She replied that County Commissioners needed to defend the property rights of the leaseholders. Munroe also alleged that P&G and Owens Corning wanted to buy their wind from Ohio and were forced to buy out of state because of the setbacks. We might remind Ms. Munroe that there are at least 7 previously certified projects such as EverPower which have not been built because there is no buyer for their output.

Munroe also said modification to the setbacks would enable the Dog Creek project as well as an Apex project to go forward. She asserted that Ohio was trailing other states but when asked if we were trailing from the perspective of setbacks, she said she did not know.She claimed that only when Dog Creek and the Apex projects were built would Van Wert be able to attract a high-tech company to their area. REALLY? Our observation is that a lot of the techies like urban areas – San Francisco comes to mind. Who would want to live in Van Wert among HUNDREDS of turbines?

Three area school officials testified they also felt the property rights of leaseholders should be protected. One school official from Lincolnview said enrollment in his school had increased. He later noted that the increases came from outside the district. We wonder if ‘in district’ numbers were shrinking if people were moving away from turbines? He also expressed hope that someday their tax levies would be less. Apparently, for now, the PILOT payments have not reduced local taxes…Hmm

Perhaps one of the worst witnesses was former Hardin County Commissioner Ron Wyss who said there was a connection between the need for reduced setbacks and the terror attacks in Paris. REALLY? Wyss went on to say that he had been a member of the Ohio Wind Working Group but later corrected himself and said he was an observer that attended all meetings. He testified that the siting regulations were painstakingly developed over a period or two years and were based on a scientific analysis. He said they should not have been discarded by the legislature. Rep. Cupp asked if Wyss had copies of the OWWG documents. Wyss said it was a public forum and all documentation would be a public record. We would remind Wyss that at the time of the OWWG, turbines were 1MW and much, much smaller. We might also remind him that when the industry saw that setbacks might be longer than they wanted, the OWWG was disbanded and the facilitator’s consulting contract was terminated. The Development Department staffer to the OWWG went on to be the Department’s “expert” on siting for the OPSB until he resigned in the face of ethics charges for running around with wind lobbyists on the taxpayer’s dime. UNU has all of the documents related to the OWWG. We wonder who recruited Wyss to testify about OWWG.

Iberdrola’s Dan Litchfield testified that the last change resulted in a tripling of setbacks. He said that some people did not want to sign because they did not want to tie up land for such a long time and others had multiple owners who could not agree. He asserted County Commissioners are in the best position because they decide the PILOT. He said Illinois counties administer wind zoning while Michigan and Indiana have given the authority to Township Trustees. Because the turbines are getting bigger, the payments to landowners which were typically $7,000 to $8,000 will now be getting bigger. Vice Chairman Roegner asked Litchfield to confirm Iberdrola was a Spanish Company. She said she had done her research and wondered why Ohioans were being asked to endure shorter setbacks than the countries where their companies were located. She went on to list a variety of longer setbacks in Germany, Scotland and Wales. Litchfield said the longer European setbacks were probably from houses and not property lines. He also said they do not have current complaints. We wonder if leaseholders and Good Neighbor Agreement holders waived project effects and so have no right to complain? Rep. Rogers asked how the current setbacks were developed. Litchfield said he did not know because there was no public process. He noted also that OPSB had very strict rules on noise and shadow flicker and those were the basis for original setbacks from homes. REALLY?

Litchfield also said the wind industry — at this point — cannot afford to pay the signing bonuses that other energy companies can pay. Maybe that is the crux of the problem. Economically troubled communities and wind developers who may lose their subsidies. The communities are desperate for anything they can get while the wind companies can’t build without the PTC, local tax abatement or paying landowners. A toxic combination.

Written testimony was also submitted by John Love, Putnam County Commissioners; Tony Zartman, Paulding County Commissioner; Curt Cory, Director of Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation; David Miller, Treasurer of Leipsic Local School District; Jerry Zielke Director Paulding County Economic Development, and Peggy Emerson, Executive Director Paulding Chamber of Commerce. All testimony can be found on the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee website at http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/public-utilities by clicking on November 18, 2015.

Ironically, just as setbacks are being debated again, the wind industry’s leading insurance underwriter, GCube, released a report on the incidence of fire at wind facilities. The report is entitled “Towering Inferno” and urges that more should be done to mitigate and prevent fires. That is a tall order given that lightning strikes are the second highest cause of fire. Many property owners, including and especially farmers, are concerned about fires at harvest time when land is usually pretty dry. Property line setbacks of 1,125 feet as opposed to 1.1 times turbine height can offer a bit of protection against the spread of fire…

Northwestern Ohio officials are lining up behind a legislative proposal to allow more local control of where wind farms can be built, a plan that would help to get around restrictions passed last year.

“For us, it’s all about the pursuit of economic development and economic prosperity,” said Susan Munroe, president and CEO of the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce.

She is one of 14 local elected officials and business leaders who signed a letter in support of House Bill 190, which allows for more local control. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, and Tony Burkley, R-Payne, was the subject of a hearing on Wednesday.

If it passes, the measure would represent a small shift in a system that gives state agencies most of the control over wind-farm decisions.

The bill is a response to legislation passed last year by majority Republicans that increased the required distance between wind turbines and nearby property lines. That change has been criticized by the wind-power industry because it reduces the number of turbines that can be built in a project area…

 

Source: Northwestern Ohio officials back plan for local control over wind-farm sites