Supreme Court rules AGAINST the (Say Yes to BigWind Board) in Ohio

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A bit of good news!  On Thursday, the Ohio Supreme Court filed its decision in the Black Fork Wind case.  In a 5-2 decision, the OSC ruled in favor of the local citizens who have been fighting this battle since 2009.  A copy of the decision is attached.

As we reported last August:

This project has a long and tangled history including an application filed in June, 2014 to amend the project with bigger turbines. This amendment was filed only days before the “new” revised setbacks measuring from property lines became law.   We think the timing of that filing was purposeful and was intended to dodge the new setback requirements. Since that time, the developer has requested other amendments to their certificate,  including additional extensions of time.  But after the 2014 setback law became effective, requiring amended projects to lose their grandfathered status and adhere to the revised property line setbacks, the developer and the Ohio Power Siting Board chose instead to consider these changes by way of “motions” not “amendments”.  

 The Ohio Supreme Court case challenged the OPSB’s use of motions when amendments are required by law.  The decision in favor of the local citizens was written by Justice DeGenaro and joined by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, French and DeWine.  Justice Fisher wrote a dissenting opinion in favor of the Power Siting Board and he was joined by Justice O’Donnell, father of wind lobbyist and attorney, Terrence O’Donnell.   Justice Kennedy separately wrote an opinion on why the Fischer/O’Donnell dissent was wrong and Justice DeWine agreed with Kennedy.    Sadly, Justice DeGenaro was defeated in the recent election.   Justice O’Donnell has been forced to retire due to age limits.  Both DeGenaro and O’Donnell will be replaced in the New Year by Cleveland Democrats, Melody Stewart and Michael Donnelly.

The Black Fork case will now be sent back to the Ohio Power Siting Board.   We think the project should be considered “dead” because the certificate has expired.  Black Fork, which is owned by Capital Power of Alberta, Canada should be required to start from scratch.  The Court’s decision acknowledges that the OPSB could declare the Black Fork certificate to be expired. It remains to be seen what OPSB will do.

Unanswered is the question of whether the Ohio Power Siting Board will require the developer to abide by property line setbacks.  On page 12-13 of the decision, the Court states:

“Because this case can be resolved on the issue whether the board properly extended Black Fork’s certificate by granting its motion and because the board did not fully address the setback issues in the orders on appeal, we decline to decide in this appeal the applicability and constitutionality of the setback provisions in R.C. 4906.20(B)(2) and 4906.201. Resolution of those questions must await a case in which the issues are squarely before us.”

 The wind developer wanted to submit an additional document which challenged the constitutionality of the setback provisions but the Court denied their request.   The issue of whether the setbacks are constitutional was raised in a lawsuit filed last November in Paulding County by four leaseholders and MAREC (Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition) whose attorney is Terrence O’Donnell.   See  for more information….


Board Must Reconsider Change to Wind Farm Construction Plan

photo of wind turbinesAmended plans for a proposed wind farm must return to the Ohio Power Siting Board and go through the board’s amendment process. (Image: Thinkstock/mj0007).

Altering a wind farm’s construction timeline is an “amendment,” and a proposal for a 91-turbine farm must return to state regulators for an extension, potentially subjecting the facility to stricter state rules, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled today.

The Supreme Court voted 5-2 that the Ohio Power Siting Board improperly approved a request by developers of the Black Fork Wind Energy Project to extend the date to begin construction from January 2017 until January 2019. …

Justice Kennedy also wrote a concurring opinion, which both supported the majority’s reasoning and raised objections to Justice Fischer’s dissent. She wrote that the law applies to more than a change in a facility, noting that “the legislature did not hide substantive limitations on the amendment of a certificate in a provision that specifically addresses when ‘the board shall hold a hearing.’ ” Rather than limit the types of changes that constitute an amendment, she explained, the hearing provision “simply distinguishes a category of applications to amend a certificate—those proposing a change in the facility—in which a hearing similar to the one required to be held upon an initial application may not be required.”


Neighbors say NO, so BigWind goes UNDERground in Ohio, literally

If you can’t work with them (the public, community, neighbors), then just go under them. BigWind is frustrated, so they want to do something that has never been done – bury their transmission lines underground, through a public right of way, to force their way into a community. Is anywhere safe???????

The proposed Black Fork Wind Farm in the northern reaches of both Crawford and Richland counties is stuck in a ditch after a Wednesday meeting of the Crawford County Commissioners.

Actually, it’s stuck trying to get into the ditch.

Representatives of Capital Power, the company developing the project, have asked commissioners for permission to bury power lines in nearly six miles of ditches along roads in both Vernon and Auburn Townships.

Doug Weisenauer, president of the commissioners, said permission is needed because Capital Power has not been given approval to run power lines through private farms to each of the 91 planned turbines. Since the ditches are public land, Weisenauer said the company hopes commissioners will be more lenient than some of the county’s farmers….

“I don’t think they should be running their power line in our right-of-way,” said Commissioner Jenny Vermillion. “It’s a private company; it’s not a public utility and our people don’t benefit from it.”

Crawford County Engineer Mark Baker brought copies of decisions made after similar requests in Kansas, Michigan and Minnesota. The commissioners — along with Vernon Township Trustee Ted Muntis and Auburn Township Trustee Tim Marcum — looked over the paperwork to see how it might apply to the Capital Power request….

A concern of those in attendance was that public right-of-ways are designed for public projects, and historically have only been crossed briefly by private projects. Vermillion noted that allowing one company to fully use the right-of-way would set a precedent letting all companies use the right-of-way.Source: Ditches leave hole in wind farm plans

BigWind finally admits ‘Wind resource is limited in Ohio’

Finally, a large industrial wind turbine company, NextEra, admits that Ohio is a terrible place for wind turbines. Tell your friends this truth!! Go to the HOME page of our website and you will see just how bad. BigWind has only been here for the free ride on our tax dollars, and now that SB310 is indefinitely ‘frozen’, times are tougher for parasites. On the positive side, read our blog from yesterday, highlighting the announcement of 2 new natural gas plants in Ohio, that will produce hundreds of good jobs and clean, reliable power!! This is encouraging news for other counties struggling with similar plights…

One of two large wind energy projects proposed for the northern reaches of Crawford County is no longer going forward.

The Honey Creek Wind Farm, which had been in the preliminary stages of development since 2011, would have consisted of about 115 wind turbines spread across 14,000 acres of leased land in Crawford County’s Lykens and Chatfield townships, as well as Bloomville, Bloom and Venice townships in Seneca County.

However, the developer behind the project, NextEra Energy Honey Creek Wind LLC, is pulling out….

“Wind resource is extremely limited in Ohio; there are not many project sites with the wind resource necessary to support a utility-scale project. The convergence of sufficient wind resources, sufficient transmission capacity and interested landowners willing to lease their land — all are needed for a viable wind energy project,” NextEra said in a motion before the Ohio Power Siting Board in 2011….


Source: Proposed wind farm in county halted

Ohio Renewable Energy committee has SIGNIFICANT farm bureau connections

Yesterday, the Ohio Senate members of the General Assembly’s
Renewable Energy Study Committee were announced.  We will be curious to see if Senator Cliff Hite will be as aggressive as he has been in the past in supporting the wind industry.  Hite represents much of the area targeted for wind development including all or part of Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams Counties.  We have provided portions of their biographies (at bottom) of all Committee members and note there are significant Farm Bureau connections.

We also provide information on one of the Vorys firm’s other client’s –
Blackfork Wind being developed by Element Power, another UK based entity
which is owned by a private equity firm, Hudson Clean Energy Partners.
Hudson has offices in New Jersey and China.  A Hudson issued a press release
this week about its success in raising $91 million. One third of these funds
will support Element’s wind developments in Northern Europe.  Reading the
company’s profile, we note their commitment to “risk mitigated”
opportunities.  Risk mitigation seems to be provided by U.S. Treasury
through the PTC, local PILOT and state mandates.  We hope that the Study
Committee clearly comprehends that it is the taxpayer and the ratepayer who enhance the return on investment for these private equity players and their limited liability subsidiaries….

Element Power has requested an additional two years to build its 200MW Black Fork wind farm in the US state of Ohio, citing project delays and the prospect of a better market for wind power in a few years. Element, which is backed by Hudson Clean Energy Partners, the renewables-focused private-equity firm, received its construction permits for the 91-turbine Black Fork project in 2012.

But Black Fork, Element’s only project in Ohio, engendered significant local
opposition, ultimately landing the project in the Ohio Supreme Court. Last
December the court upheld Element’s right to build Black Fork, located in
north central Ohio.

Element’s existing construction certificate runs to January 2017, but the
developer has requested an extension to January 2019…

via Element wants Black Fork extension -Recharge News.

Ohio Renewable Energy Study Committee

1. Senator Troy Balderson (R) is currently serving his second General Assembly
in the Ohio Senate, representing the 20th District, which encompasses all of
Fairfield, Guernsey, Hocking, Morgan, and Muskingum Counties, as well as
portions of Athens and Pickaway Counties. He is currently the Chairman of
the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources. Tapping his vast knowledge on energy issues, Senator Balderson has been
appointed to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy &
Natural Resources…
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In addition to his committee leadership responsibilities, Senator Balderson
serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture
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Prior to joining the Ohio Senate, Balderson served in the Ohio House of
Representatives, where he was named to the powerful House Finance Committee and also presided as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture and Natural Resources….
As part of his effort to best serve the district, Senator Balderson stays
very active in the community including being a member of the Genesis Health
Care Advisory Board, the Cattleman’s Association, the Muskingum County Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association….

2.As a farmer, business owner and former county official, Bob Peterson ® has devoted much of his time and attention to solving the challenges facing our communities. He now brings that same attitude and drive to the Ohio Senate as he works to improve all of Ohio. Bob represents the 17th Ohio Senate District, which encompasses Clinton, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson,Pike and Ross counties as well as portions of Lawrence, Pickaway and Vinton counties.

A farmer by trade, Senator Peterson and his family are the eighth generation
of Petersons to farm in the U.S. Peterson raises corn, soybeans, wheat and
livestock on his family’s farm. He also has been active in the Farm Bureau
in a variety of leadership positions, culminating to his position as Ohio
Farm Bureau President for nearly five years He also served as a member of the budget-writing Finance Committee, the Agriculture Committee, the Energy & Natural Resources Committee and the Insurance & Financial Institutions
Committee….Peterson received his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, and is also a graduate of its LEAD Program, an intense two-year agriculture leadership program that features extensive experience in economics, environmental issues and state and national political processes….

3. Bill Seitz (We know he is a friend of the consumer, ratepayer,resident, so info was not added)

4.Senator Cliff Hite is currently serving in his second General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate, representing the 1st Senate District, which encompasses an 11 county region of Northwest Ohio including all or part of Auglaize, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Logan, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert, and Williams Counties. Prior to his appointment to the Senate, Hite served two terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. For the second time during his tenure in the Senate, Hite has been tapped to preside as the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture….

5.Senator Shirley A. Smith (D) was elected to the 21st Senate District of the Ohio Senate in November 2006 after serving eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives as the State Representative for the 10th House District in Cleveland.  Senate District 21 encompasses Wards 2 through 12 and 14, Bratenahl, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, Garfield Heights, Newburgh Heights, and University Heights….

Smith serves as Ranking Member of the Government Oversight Committee and sits on the Finance Committee, Criminal Justice Committee, the Public
Utilities Committee, and the Agriculture Committee….

6.Capri S. Cafaro (D) has represented the 32nd Ohio Senate District since January 2007 when she was appointed to the 127th General Assembly. Cafaro’s district encompasses Ashtabula and Trumbull counties, located in Northeast Ohio. As of 2013, portions of Geauga County have been added to her district as well….She serves on the Insurance, Commerce and Labor Committee, as well as the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, and the Legislative Service Commission. In 2008 she was named a Friend of Agriculture by the Ohio Farm Bureau… In 2009, Senator Cafaro was recognized as Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Speech and Hearing Coalition, the Ohio Farmer’s Union, AMVETS Department of Ohio, and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers’ Association and the Soybean Association for her leadership and support of Ohio’s bio products industry and Ohio agriculture….