OPSB issues draft BigWind siting rules- the joke is on us

This past week the Ohio Power Siting Board released its industrial wind facility “Draft Rules” for comment. The OPSB release states:

The public is invited to submit comments on these rules. In an entry dated September 22, 2016, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) issued proposed rules applicable to wind‑powered electric generation facilities in amended Ohio Administrative Code 4906‑4‑08 and newly proposed 4906‑4‑09. The OPSB requests that interested persons submit formal written comments on the proposed rules by October 24, 2016 and reply comments by November 8, 2016. The entry and proposed rules are available in the online record for case number 16-1109-GE-BRO. (We have also attached the proposed rules below.)

Stakeholders may submit comments in case number 16-1109-GE-BRO via electronic filing or in hard copy to: PUCO Docketing Division, 11th Floor, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Following the conclusion of the comment and reply comment period, the OPSB will later issue final rules to be reviewed by the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review before taking effect.

Questions regarding the rulemaking may be directed to contactopsb@puco.ohio.gov.

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Having only given the draft rules a cursory look, we cannot provide you with our detailed assessment at this time BUT we can say they appear to be a complete farce and that they fail to provide any real enforceable protection for residents and property owners. For instance, the draft rule at page 28 addresses noise at adjacent non-participating property. Everyone knows that sound from wind turbines can propagate across miles and varies depending on topography. This alone is an indicator that the rules are designed to facilitate the construction of industrial wind and nothing else. In order to make the industrial power plants seem benign, the rule actually changes the word wind “facility” to wind “farm”. Gee – will fracking sites become oil and gas farms? Anyone up for a nuclear farm?

We all remember the blade failure in Paulding County which occurred as a result of human error when an employee in some remote control center restarted a turbine that had been automatically shut down. Not to worry going forward! The new rules outlaw human error! “Bypass or override of wind turbine safety features or equipment is prohibited.” Feel better now? Not only that, the rules now require the developer to give their best guess on “probabilities” of bad things happening. If the developer doesn’t think that there is a real good chance that high winds could be dangerous, or ice throws could smash through your car window while you are driving down a road, or hit your children while playing in their yards, then Hakuna Matata! No worries!

The rules include the following provisions:

(6) High winds. The applicant shall provide an analysis of the prospects of high winds for the area, including the probability of occurrences and likely consequences of various wind velocities, and describe plans to mitigate any likely adverse consequences.

(1) The ice throw analysis shall, at a minimum, include the probability of ice throw impacts at the nearest property boundary and public road.

(3) In addition to the use of the safety measures enumerated in paragraph (E)(2) of this rule, the potential impact from ice throw shall be presumptively deemed to satisfy safety considerations if the probability of one kilogram of ice landing beyond the statutory property line setback for each turbine location is less than one per cent per year.

We invite you to consider the proposed rule on Noise below which is followed by Union Neighbors United’s January 18th noise comments filed with the OPSB. UNU’s comments were more fully described by its expert noise advisor again on June 9, 2016. Those written comments are attached. The only thing one can say about these “rules” is that once again the OPSB is attempting to provide wind developers with an “unregulated” environment under the guise of “regulation.” Regulation that protects no one is hardly regulation.

OPSB Draft Noise Rule

(2) The facility shall be operated so that the facility noise contribution does not result in noise levels at the adjacent non-participating property that exceed the project area ambient nighttime average sound level (Leq) by five A-weighted decibels (dBA). Non-participating property, for the purpose of this rule, refers to properties not under lease or agreement with the applicant regarding any components of the facility or project. During daytime operation only {seven a.m. to ten p.m.), the facility may operate at the greater of: the project area ambient nighttime Leq plus five dBA; or the validly measured ambient Leq plus five dBA at the location of the adjacent non-participating property. After commencement of commercial operation, the applicant shall conduct further review of the impact and possible mitigation of all project-related noise complaints through its complaint resolution process.

UNU Comment January 18, 2016

(a) Noise:

(i) To prevent annoyance and sleep deprivation from inherently intrusive wind turbine noise, operational noise levels of wind energy facilities should not exceed five dBA above the background sound level at nonparticipating properties. UNU Brief at 22-25. Since this proposed standard applies to nonparticipating properties, the rule should require all background noise measurements to be taken on location at nonparticipating properties wherever possible.2 For purposes of determining compliance with this standard, background noise assessments must be based on the L90 statistical standard, as universally acknowledged in the acoustical engineering profession. Id. at 30. The L90, known as the residual sound level, is the sound level exceeded during 90% of the measurement period. The L90 measures the quietest 10% of a time interval in order to identify the amount of background sound that is normally available to mask turbine noise that otherwise would awaken a person. By measuring the quietest 10% interval, the L90 statistic filters out the sporadic noise from noise events of short duration, such as passing cars.

By removing brief noise spikes, the L90 metric eliminates short-term noise spikes that serve no purpose for masking the sound of a new noise source. Id. (ii) No nonparticipating resident or landowner should be exposed to noise levels greater than 35 dBA and 50 dBC at any time. UNU Brief at 35-40, 44. (iii) The above standards should apply at the property lines of nonparticipating properties, not merely at neighboring residences. Id. at 44-45. (iv) Proposed subsection 4906-4-08(C)(3)(B) requires that the application address “cumulative operational noise levels at the property boundary for each non-participating property adjacent to or within the project area, under both day and nighttime conditions.” As the Board is well aware, wind energy developers often plan their facilities in phases, while in other cases, one developer’s facility is proposed in or near the location of another developer’s facility. In order to assess the cumulative impact of multiple facilities, it is critical that such assessment take into account impacts from other existing, proposed, or planned wind power facilities in addition to impacts from the facility that is the subject of the application. This comment applies not only to assessment of cumulative noise impacts, but also to visual impacts, shadow flicker, and othercumulative facility impacts.

Last June when the OPSB presented an earlier draft of wind rules, UNU asserted the proposed rules conflicted with the intent of legislation to protect the public and that they lacked enforceable standards. We have reprinted a portion of the news report from the Hannah Statehouse News Service from last June wherein” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Notwithstanding we recall that Senator Troy Balderson pointed out to the OPSB’s Legal Director, Angela Hawkins, that there were, in fact, deficiencies in the rules and he expects those deficiencies to be fixed in the upcoming new rulemaking process.

We will report further on these draft rules after we study them a bit more. In the meantime, be thinking about having your local elected officials join you in commenting on the rules when they are due one month from today on October 24th. For now, we think anyone who signs a wind lease, a “good neighbor agreement,” or a waiver should question whether their family, neighbors or community will ever truly be protected by OPSB rules….

The Hannah Statehouse News Service Reported the hearing as follows (emphasis added by Wind News):

Wind Farm Certification Rules Clear JCARR despite Opposition

A new rule revising the content and substance of certificate applications for electric generation facilities, including wind farms, cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on Monday.

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) rule addresses new wind turbine setback requirements set in 130-HB483…

Lawyer Christopher Walker, representing Union Neighbors United (UNU), testified in opposition to the rule saying it violates the third JCARR prong — conflicting with legislative intent.

“Today’s rule purports to contain the board’s regulations governing health and safety, land use, and ecological impacts of wind energy projects. However, this rule lacks the standards explicitly required by the General Assembly to protect the public health and public interest from the impacts of wind farm operations,” Walker said.

“Neither Rule 4906-4-08 nor the remainder of the board’s rules establish any requirements governing the reconstruction or enlargement of wind turbines, protection of recreational lands or wildlife,” Walker continued. “Furthermore, the rules contain no enforceable standards for wind facility decommissioning or for protection of the public from ice throw, wind turbine noise, blade shear, or shadow flicker. Instead, this rule, which purports to address health and safety impacts of wind energy facilities, is merely a laundry list of various information that a wind energy facility developer must submit to the board and its staff in its application.”

Walker said he was particularly concerned that the rule does not set specific standards for blade and ice throw, noting turbines can fling fragments 1,640 feet. He said the rule is “silent” on this issue.

Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) pointed out the rule requires applicants to evaluate and describe the potential impact from blade shear and ice throw at the nearest property boundary and public road and include plans to mitigate the potential effects and instruct workers of potential hazards. Walker responded by saying he meant the rule does not include enforceable standards on these issues.

Walker said several times that HB562 required “reasonable regulations” “for the protection of the public.” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Walker acknowledged the latter phrase was not included in the law….

 

Country of Poland proves that Ohio’s wind turbines setbacks are weak

 

The BigWind companies in Ohio are, chronically and constantly, arguing that our setbacks from property lines are entirely too restrictive. So restrictive, in fact, that it hampers THEIR success in our state. But, what about OUR residents?  We recently blogged about an individual in Van Wert county who has struggled (and still is) with excessive NOISE from a nearby turbine. Noise that interferes with normal life at home…and she is not alone, there are more. Who will protect our citizens against these industrial giants? Particularly, as they age, maintenance/noise/problems can plague them. BigWind IS lobbying, HARD, to convince our legislators to REDUCE the distance from turbines to our property lines. Below, is the NIH from the country of Poland, who believes that BigWind setbacks should be much GREATER than they are at this time. Ohio has been fortunate, so far, that BigWind has predominantly ‘planted’ itself in very sparsley occupied areas. If this changes, more people WILL have problems….

The National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene is of the opinion that wind farms situated too close to buildings intended for permanent human occupation may have a negative impact on the well-being and health of the people living in their proximity.

The human health risk factors that the Institute has taken into consideration in its position are as follows:

the emitted noise level and its dependence on the technical specifications of turbines, wind speed as well as the topography and land use around the wind farm,
aerodynamic noise level including infrasound emissions and low-frequency noise components,
the nature of the noise emitted, taking into account its modulation/impulsive/tonal characteristics and the possibility of interference of waves emitted from multiple turbines,
the risk of ice being flung from rotors,
the risk of turbine failure with a rotor blade or its part falling,
the shadow flicker effect…

the probability of sleep disruptions and noise propagation at night,
the level of nuisance and probability of stress and depression symptoms occurring (in consequence of long exposure), related both to noise emissions and to non-acceptance of the noise source.
In the Institute’s opinion, the laws and regulations currently in force in Poland (regarding risk factors which, in practice, include only the noise level) are not only inadequate to facilities such noise source as wind turbines, but they also fail to guarantee a sufficient degree of public health protection. The methodology currently used for environmental impact assessment of wind farms (including human health) is not applicable to wind speeds exceeding 5 m/s. In addition, it does not take into account the full frequency range (in particular, low frequency) and the nuisance level….

Having regard to the above, until a comprehensive methodology is developed for the assessment of the impact of industrial wind farms on human health, the Institute recommends 2 km as the minimum distance of wind farms from buildings. The recommended value results from a critical assessment of research results published in reviewed scientific periodicals with regard to all potential risk factors for average distance usually specified within the following limits:

0.5-0.7 km, often obtained as a result of calculations, where the noise level (dBA) meets the currently acceptable values (without taking into account adjustments for the impulse/tonal/modulation features of the nose emitted),
1.5-3.0 km, resulting from the noise level, taking into account modulation, low frequencies and infrasound levels,
0.5-1.4 km, related to the risk of turbine failure with a broken rotor blade or its part falling (depending on the size of the piece and its flight profile, rotor speed and turbine type),
0.5-0.8 km, where there is a risk of ice being flung from rotors (depending on the shape and mass of ice, rotor speed and turbine type),
1.0-1.6 km, taking into account the noise nuisance level (between 4% and 35% of the population at 30-45 dBA) for people living in the vicinity of wind farms,
the distance of 1.4-2.5 km, related to the probability of sleep disruptions (on average, between 4% and 5% of the population at 30-45 dBA),
2,0 km, related to the occurrence of potential psychological effects resulting from substantial landscape changes (based on the case where the wind turbine is a dominant landscape feature and the rotor movement is clearly visible and noticeable to people from any location),
1.2-2.1 km, for the shadow flicker effect (for the average wind turbine height in Poland, including the rotor from 120 to 210 m).
In its opinions. the Institute has also considered the recommended distances of wind farms from buildings, as specified by experts, scientists, as well as central and local government bodies around the world (in most cases recommended from 1.0 to 5.0 km)….

BigWind graveyard or birthplace? Van Wert, Ohio

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On Hoaglin Center Rd in Van Wert, Ohio this BigWind graveyard and birthplace exists. Some believe it is a graveyard because damaged blades seem to appear, regularly, as if they are being changed out at night. This is also a birthplace, as the replacement blades regularly move in/out of this lot (via train).  The Van Wert industrial turbine site is a mere 5 years old, to have this problem. Although the gear box is an achilles heel of this industry, it appears as though blades are a problem, too.  This seems mighty expensive, doesn’t it, for regular maintenance??????? Unfortunately, for the resident who posted the ‘noisy turbine’ in Van Wert, these blades have not gone to fix her backyard problem….

Bearings and $ losses causing BigWind holiday headaches

We have blogged, before, that an achilles heal of this industry in the bearings. Siemens now reports a $279 million charge to earnings in the third quarter due to blade repairs caused by faulty bearings and the effects of harsh weather conditions.  Blade failures and degradation lead to excessive noise emissions as well as accidents.  In hearing after hearing before Ohio regulators and legislators, the wind industry has claimed any such deficiencies were minimal and chance of blade failures remote.   The Siemens charge to earnings is real, repair costs are real and no one should accept what the industry claims on its face without documentation….

The massive charges Siemens incurred for inspecting and replacing main bearings in onshore wind turbines during its financial fourth quarter were due to an early degradation of the bearings in certain machines, Siemens Energy chief Lisa Davis said at a press conference.

“These issues appear to be related to recent batches of bearings and we’re in close discussions with the supplier that we have for these bearings,” Davis said, without disclosing the supplier’s name….

The second reason for the charges that added up to €223m ($279m) during the quarter were costs incurred for blade repairs caused by “harsh weather conditions” both onshore and offshore, Davis explained….

Problems at bearings and blades have repeatedly haunted the wind power industry. German utility RWE Innogy earlier this year re-tendered a contract to equip the 332MW Nordsee 1 offshore wind farm in the German North Sea after a technical hitch relating to bearings was found in a handful of turbine manufacturer Senvion’s flagship 6.2MW offshore turbines. Senvion, a unit of India’s Suzlon, previously had been pre-selected to provide the turbines, which would represent a very important order for the company.

US giant GE earlier this year was hit by a manufacturing “anomaly” that caused a number of blade breakages, including two incidents at a 200.6MW Invenergy wind farm in Nebraska.

Siemens Wind pays price for bearings, blade issues -RechargeNews.

Siemens to write down wind turbines – SZ newspaper

FRANKFURT Tue Nov 4, 2014 2:19am EST

Nov 4 (Reuters) – German engineering group Siemens will take writedowns that may run into the hundreds of millions of euros at its wind-turbines business, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday….

Profit at Siemens’ wind power division plunged 60 percent in the first nine months of 2014 due to a low contribution from the high-margin offshore business, high production costs and charges for replacing defective bearings in onshore wind turbines….

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Mark Potter)

BigWind NEEDS BigOil to survive

BigWind blades, predominantly, depend upon epoxy adhesives to glue their seams etc. As the blades get longer, they will only depend on them more. Where do epoxy adhesives originate? Where are the raw materials, to make epoxy, derived from? Big Bad Oil – they are petroleum based. Does anyone else find this ironic? Those who promote renewable energy walk in-step with the anti BigOil crowd, yet BigWind is DEPENDENT on BigOil for its survival, manufacturing, transportation and installation….

Adhesives in global composites market is expected to reach an estimated value of $1,170 million by 2019. The major drivers for adhesives in composites market are growth in end user industry such as automotive, aerospace, and wind energy industry, and increasing penetration of composite materials in those industries….

Growth Opportunities for Adhesives in Global Composites Industry 2014-2019 – Lucintel.

BigWind THROWS FLAMING BLADE 100 meters

This doesn’t make our new Ohio setback of 1250 feet from a property line look too bad anymore, does it?  What if this happened in a dry field? What if this happened at a school, where our state setbacks are not mandated?  The first sentence of this article is laughable, because as BigWind is forced onto our communities, these incidents will no longer be as rare…

(Ireland) However, it is believed to be an isolated incident as this make of turbine ‘rarely malfunctions.’

A FLAMING WIND turbine blade almost sparked a forest fire in Cork after it was thrown several metres from the machine….

A flaming 28-metre-long blade from one of the turbines flew as far as 100 metres away from the machine and landed close to nearby gorse and forestry….

A spokesperson for Bantry Fire Station told TheJournal.ie their main aim was to contain this fire, to ensure it didn’t spread to forest and gorse. The turbine was completely destroyed.

They said it took ‘a couple of hours’ to bring the blaze under control due to dry conditions caused by a spell of good weather.

Similar incidents, known as “blade throws”, can often occur during very high wind speeds….

via This wind turbine caught fire and threw a flaming blade dozens of metres.

What happens to old/broken BigWind BLADES?

How many of you have heard that dead/obsolete wind turbines can be recycled? This is a common myth. If the average wind turbine lasts a mere 10-15 years (per some very good studies), then we have A LOT of blades going to landfills over the next few decades, as wind sites explode across our continent! Additionally, note what a difficult task it is to BUILD the crane on site that disassembles the machines- it takes 20 semis to carry the parts!  With such an energy intensive transport and expense, do you really believe that these companies do the appropriate maintenance on their machines? Like change the 200 gallons of oil in the nacelle every 5 years? Do you believe that our counties can afford to pay for the decommissioning when the turbines die? If you do believe this, then I have some land to sell you….

Starting June 8 and continuing over the next two months, 14 turbines will be repaired at DTE Energy’s Echo Wind Park (Michigan)….

One crane is currently in position on Crown Road between Farver and Maxwell roads in Chandler Township. Another crane will be delivered in the coming week and placed to the east of the initial crane on Crown Road between Farver and North Elkton roads.

“One will be assembling the blades, and another will be assembling a crane,” Serafin said. “The first seven will be all new blades, the second seven will be recombining all the good blades.”…

Occasionally, you’ll see the crane boom up,” he said. “Typically, they can take a rotor down, disassemble the blades and have the rotor back up within a day or two. It takes about 20 semis to move all the crane parts. It’s really not going to be that noticeable.

“If you happen to notice (the crane), you will stop because it’s pretty impressive to see the huge blades go up.” …

During Tuesday’s board of commissioners meeting, Board Chairman Clark Elftman asked Serafin of the fate of non-functioning blades….

Serafin said the blades will be destroyed, with the exception of the root, mid-section and tip of a blade to be donated to three educational institutions, per the request of the planning commission. 

via DTE to repair 14 turbines; Work set to begin in June; 19 other blades get OK – Huron Daily Tribune: Local News.