Has BigWind become a BULLY in Ohio?

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This week the Senate announced the members who will be serving on the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) has been appointed Chairman.  Wilson is a former bank CEO and member of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.  Vice Chair will be Sen. Rob McColley of Napoleon in Henry County who is an attorney. Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland)  is the ranking member.  Filling out the Committee are Republicans Brenner (R-Powell); Burke (R-Marysville); Dolan (R- Chagrin Falls); Eklund (R-Chardon); Hoaglund (R-Adena); M. Huffman (R-Lima); Peterson (R-Sabina); Rulli (R-Salem); Craig (D-Columbus) and O’Brien (D-Bazetta).

Several interesting issues have arisen in various forums this week.   A spokesperson for Innogy announced that they would be backing up wind developments onsite with batteries the size of semi-truck containers.  They propose to stack five of them one on top of the other to provide 5MW of back-up power to smooth out variable winds.  But their spokesperson claimed there would be no need to involve the OPSB because they would not meet the over 5MW for state regulation.  We fail to see how batteries installed at a wind facility would not be considered a part of the total project and therefore included in the total MW for the facility. And, how ‘green’ are batteries? We are told NOT to dispose of them in regular trash because of the risk of the acids.  What will they do with batteries the size of semis??

A question has arisen as to whether a tenant will be afforded adequate protection if a non-resident landowner/landlord signs a wind lease waiving setback restrictions.  Will the landlord be obligated to inform the tenant?  Does the landlord have a duty to ascertain whether the tenant family has any medical conditions? Does the tenant have any right to claims against the landowner if adverse impacts are experienced?  Setback waivers generally include agreements not to publicly complain about noise, shadow flicker and other nuisance effects.  Would the tenant be bound by such terms if they are not party to the agreement?

The Findlay Zoning Board of Appeals rejected an application for approval of two on-site wind turbines for an industrial facility.  The 400 foot turbines exceed Findlay’s height limits of 100’ for wind turbines. The existing turbines in the Findlay area at Ball and Whirlpool are in Allen Township which has no zoning.  The company seeking to erect the turbines was originally rejected by the Marion Township Zoning Board of Appeals. This led them to annex their 37-acre property into Findlay where they were met with another rejection.  The company may seek to overturn the decision in court.  Press reports indicate the turbines would be as close as 1000’ from neighboring residences.  In the Findlay, Ohio article, Jereme Kent of One Energy is quoted as saying, “We will have to evaluate our other legal recourses to resolve this”…I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a threat to those who were opposed to the turbines! City administrators assert there would be negative impacts on these properties. We hope the folks in Findlay are aware of what happened in Falmouth, MA.

The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has gone into an over-spin condition with a new poll claiming widespread support for clean energy in Ohio.  (You might even call it a “mandate”. ☹)  The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in the D.C. area.  P.O.S. states on their website: “Public Opinion Strategies is one of the nation’s leading public opinion research firms specializing in political, public affairs, public policy, and corporate positioning research. Our roots are in political campaign management. As such, our research is focused on producing data that compels decisions – to get results.”  Gee – seems like they admit their polls are designed to get whatever result the client wants. In this case, the objective is reduced setbacks measured from homes.  How noble.  

There have been several media reports covering the poll but it is unclear whether any reporter has actually seen the questions that were asked.  It appears that the attached memo was carefully crafted to “appear” as though it is presenting the questions but it is not.   Our question is when did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez join the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum?  Representatives of OCEF spent the week meeting with legislators to convince them they need to vote for renewables if they want to keep their elected office.  Meanwhile, newly elected Rep. Cross from Hardin County spoke to the Annual Indian Lake Chamber meeting and said that “quality of life is now Number 1 in attracting growth.”  Wonder if they took the survey?

A short video of an energy conversation with Bill Gates is worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1EB1zsxW0k

PILOT payments for the solar field in Hardin County were the recent subject of discussion with the County Commissioners.  No resolution was reached and there continues to be much uncertainty surrounding the PILOT program.  “County Auditor Mike Bacon had questioned if taking the productive farmland off the property tax charts would result in an increase to other taxpayers to balance the loss.  Klooster said the issue has been a major concern of Invenergy, who doesn’t want the solar field development to not result in “a penny of increase to anyone’s taxes.”  A public hearing on Phase II of the solar farm will be held on March 14 in Hardin County.

In other news:

 

  • Hardin County’s Upper Scioto Valley schools want to get rid of two turbines on their property.  One of the turbines does not work and the cost of a needed part is $100,000, which NexGen is not willing to pay unless USV extends its contract for services.   “But the board and administration questioned why it would be interested in doing that since the amount they pay per kilowatt to NexGen is double the cost paid by the district on the commercial electric grid.  “It is cheaper for me to have them not working,” said Treasurer Stacy Gratz.”….How many schools across the state know this reality?

 

  • “American Electric Power (AEP) is paying $551m in cash to acquire full or partial interests in 724MW of US wind projects from Sempra Energy, continuing an aggressive drive to add capacity since the spectacular collapse last year of its 2GW Wind Catcher project. The deal, expected to close next quarter, includes Sempra’s 100% stake in the 100MW Apple Blossom wind project in Michigan and 78MW Black Oak Getty facility in Minnesota.  The remaining 546MW comprises projects that Sempra jointly owns with BP Wind Energy: Auwahi Wind in Hawaii, Ridge 2 Wind in Kansas, Mehoopany Wind in Pennsylvania, Cedar Creek 2 Wind in Colorado and Fowler Ridge 2 Wind in Indiana.”

 

  • Supporters and opponents of the Lake Erie Icebreaker project are sounding off about whether the benefits outweigh the risks of putting wind turbines in the lake. “Final approval could come soon for Icebreaker, a six-turbine wind installation in Lake Erie, eight miles off Cleveland’s shoreline. Lake Erie Foundation board member John Lipaj noted it’s actually a pilot project for a massive, 1,500 wind turbine installation throughout the lake. The developer has said each turbine holds about 400 gallons of industrial lubricants, and Lipaj said that’s just not worth the risk. “Lake Erie, which is the source of drinking water for 11 million people, isn’t the place to be building an industrial wind facility,” Lipaj said. “Build the wind turbines onshore; build them where farmers need that extra income. It just makes so much more sense and it’s better for the lake.”   The Ohio Power Siting Board could decide on the project at a hearing February 21.

 

  • The United States Senate has voted to approve a large measure protecting public lands.  One provision of the bill is a bird measure sponsored by Ohio Senator Rob Portman that will provide $6.5 million each year through 2024 on conservation. Portman said hundreds of bird species migrate through Ohio each year, making Lake Erie a popular bird watching destination. The Senate approved the bill in a 92 to 8 vote. The House of Representatives has not yet taken it up. “Protecting and conserving these bird populations is critically important and I am pleased the Senate approved this bipartisan legislation,” said a statement from Portman. “I’m looking forward to this legislation being signed very soon.”    It remains to be seen whether the OPSB will consider this federal legislation when deciding the Icebreaker project.

 

  • In Tippecanoe County, Indiana has decided that industrial wind development will no longer be allowed. “Wind turbines are not appropriate for our county,” said Julie Peretin. Speaking on behalf of several Tippecanoe County residents who share the same concern Peretin said,  “We are too densely populated and we have some of the best farm ground in the state.”   “Wind farms are a great economic opportunity for rural areas and areas with declining populations,” said Murtaugh.  “Our population is constantly growing, our economic development activities are escalating, to tie up that type of ground for up to 50 years is way premature,” said Murtaugh.  “A commercial developer who just kind of sweeps in, the potential to cause harm to a community cannot be understated,” she said.

 

  • The aggressive left-wing group “Checks & Balances” had a complete meltdown over the citizens in NW Ohio (aka “fossil fuel operatives”) who are effectively using social media to speak out against industrial wind.  You can read C&B’s incomprehensible screed at https://checksandbalancesproject.org/van-wert-wind-development/.  We find it interesting that they blame citizen groups, such as our own, for Apex pulling out of NW Ohio, yet Apex said NOTHING like this when they left.  Read the Apex article here
  • Why did Apex leave VW Ohio?

 

  • Google re-confirms its data center investment in New Albany as well as an opioid addiction program in Dayton.

 

  • An Illinois School Superintendent challenges Apex on a misleading marketing campaign concerning a wind development’s  “windfall” for local schools. “I feel the school district should only be taking a stance on any issue that has a direct impact on the schools. The other political issues people are having when it comes to the environmental impact, etc., I as Superintendent of the school district should not be making any statements on those issues. So we are absolutely neutral on this issues and we will just see how it plays out, but I just felt that I needed to clarify any perception people in the community might have that this would be viewed as a windfall for the school district,” says Ptacek.

 

  • The authors of a 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day.   Building the level of renewable generation and storage necessary to reach California’s goals would drive up costs exponentially, from $49 per megawatt-hour of generation at 50 percent to $1,612 at 100 percent. And that’s assuming lithium-ion batteries will cost roughly a third what they do now.  These forces would dramatically increase electricity costs for consumers.  “You have to pause and ask yourself: ‘Is there any way the public would stand for that?’”   The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum would say “YES!” 

 

Findlay vs OneEnergy

Polls

Yet another poll

Cleveland poll

Kenton questions $ behind renewable

AEP

Lake Erie questions arise

Indiana BAN on BigWind

Battery problems w renewables

USV school

 

 

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You didn’t know BigWind will be building beside YOU in Ohio? See FAA approvals

Could BigWind be planning a move next to you?  Visit the link, below, which is the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.  Pending applications for approval of wind turbines are listed here.  The FAA has three categories: 1) Proposed; 2) Interim and 3) Determined.  As of today, there are seven cases involving 22 industrial wind turbines under review by the FAA.  These may include cases not currently under review by the Ohio Power Siting Board because they may fall below the size threshold which triggers OPSB review.  For instance, there is one turbine proposed for a rural area near Celina in Mercer County. It appears that the turbine may be intended to support a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation).  Notwithstanding, there are smaller homes in the area that are very close to the proposed turbine.  Do the neighbors know?  What protects them?

There are two new FAA applications in the Findlay area each for 2 turbines.  In Darke County near Greenville two rows of three turbines are proposed.  Nowhere has this project surfaced previously.  The turbines are 410 feet tall and presumably they would be more than 1 MW each thus crossing the threshold required for OPSB consideration but there is nothing pending at OPSB for Darke County.   Why not? Other projects include Leipsic (2 turbines), McComb (2 turbines) and more.   All readers should visit the FAA website for additional information.

 The FAA follows federal regulations in determining whether a hazard to navigation may be present.   Portions of the regulations are provided below to introduce readers to aspects of the FAA evaluation process.  More information may be obtained by following the link below or googling “FAA obstruction”.

Also of interest, the U.S. Department of Energy reports Ohio ranks in the top ten for distributed wind energy.   If the FAA reports discussed about is any indicator, it looks like Ohio will move up in the rankings with more manufacturers building on-site wind.  But we were disturbed by the quotes from Patrick Gilman, a program manager with the Wind Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy.    Gilman said wind energy is expected to keep growing in Ohio and across the nation despite legislative obstacles and opposition from certain sects of the population.  He also repeated the bad info about Ohio’s setbacks being more restrictive than other states.  Does AWEA have a D.O.E. employee on the payroll?

Source: Obstruction Evaluation / Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA)

BigWind builds in Findlay, Ohio and laughs at Ohio Power Siting Board

What a special time for the people of Findlay, Ohio – home of Marathon, Ball Corp., Whirlpool and State Senator Cliff Hite.  In an amazing feat, wind developer One Energy is developing a facility with five 1.5 MW industrial wind turbines which will have no regulatory oversight from the State of Ohio.  The State regulates “economically significant” wind facilities and defines them as “a wind-powered electric generation facility, including wind turbines and associated facilities, with a single interconnection to the electrical grid and designed for, or capable of, operation at an aggregate capacity of five megawatts or more but less than fifty megawatts.”  

Three turbines will provide power to the Ball Corporation while the other two will supply Whirlpool.   One Energy manager, Jereme Kent, explains that the turbines (which will be the same models built at the same time in  the same place) are two distinct projects that fall beneath the 5 MW regulatory threshold of the Ohio Power Siting Board.    As such, the developer does not intend to follow the State of Ohio’s minimum setbacks designed to limit noise emissions, shadow flicker or other adverse project effects.   OPSB seems okay with that despite more than 100 families living within ½ mile of the facilitly.  We wonder, what does Senator Cliff Hite think of One Energy skirting Ohio law? Was he aware of the project before it was announced? Was someone hoodwinked?

Three of the nation’s foremost experts on turbine-caused acoustical problems were contacted by The Courier.  One of the experts, Dr. Steven Ambrose spoke with the paper for three hours.  They also spoke with Dr. Alec Salt who heads up the Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.  and Rick James who provided expert witness testimony in UNU’s case against EverPower.   One Energy’s “Kent dismissed the three men’s criticisms. “There are a host of studies out there that are crap studies”!    Kent claims that there are studies that prove there are no health problems.    Perhaps Mr. Kent should be invited to produce these “studies”.   There aren’t any.   There are no studies that either prove or disprove that wind turbines cause health problems.  There is documentation – proof – that inaudible infra sound from wind turbines is perceived by the human body.   This has been affirmed by George Hessler of Hessler & Associates, EverPower’s noise consulting firm. No wind developer will cooperate with the next phase of research to study health impacts, .  That is why, as we reported previously, Virginia Tech will be pursuing further research in cooperation with the Institute of Acoustics in Chile where a wind tunnel can simulate the noise emissions. 

We continue to be puzzled by the absolute certainty of the environmental left with respect to alleged harms to health from fracking and demands that all fracking stop until studies can be undertaken.  But if the contaminator is industrial wind, the screams call for full speed ahead until medical studies are produced.  The unwillingness of the industry to cooperate in studies insures that they can operate unimpeded in places like Findlay. 

It is disappointing to see that the Ohio Power Siting Board is taking a hands off position.  Do they think this makes them look intelligent? Hardly, it makes them look foolish and useless. Perhaps things will begin to change there as Andre Porter takes over as the newly appointed chairman of the Public Utilities Commission.  Porter is a utilities attorney with experience.  Outgoing Chair, Tom Johnson, will remain on the PUCO board until his term concludes in 2019.  In the meantime, we hope that Senator Cliff Hite will be quick to assist his constituents when and if problems arise….

Construction of five wind turbines, each nearly twice as tall as the Hancock County Courthouse, will begin this spring just outside Findlay, but not everyone thinks they will supply electrical energy as harmlessly and quietly as promised here and elsewhere.
The 262-foot towers, costing about $18 million, will stand near the Whirlpool Corp. and Ball Corp. plants south of Allen Township 215 and north of Hancock County 99 in Allen Township.
One Energy, a Findlay company, plans to sell all of the energy from three turbines to Ball, supplying about 20 percent of the factory’s needs for 20 years. Whirlpool will buy all the energy from two turbines, which will supply about 22 percent of its power needs….

But wind turbines elsewhere have faced criticism on a number of counts….

The Courier » Are wind turbines good neighbors?.