Ohio BigWind doesn’t have ‘their ducks in a row’

The Dayton and Springfield papers report on HB 190 to give County Commissioners the opportunity to reduce the setbacks currently provided in the law. UNU notes that only the opportunity to reduce – not lengthen – setbacks is proposed. If current setbacks are the MINIMUM, we can only conclude that to reduce them would put families in harm’s way. We encourage everyone to watch the video shot earlier this month when a wind turbine failed in Germany and a 176 lb “fragment” was thrown 1, 670 feet. This short video gives an excellent overview of the debris field. We are reminded of the blade failure in 2012 at the Timber Road II wind farm in Paulding County. Blade Throw

A Windlab representative and the attorney for Greenwich Neighbors United appeared at a recent Township Trustee meeting to address the fact that 62% of the turbines in the Greenwich Wind project do not meet minimum setbacks and waivers have not been secured. The OPSB has approved the project despite Windlab’s failure to obtain setback waivers. GNU will appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. So, is Ohio ‘out of step’ with the rest of the country/world with our current setbacks?

In Boone County, Illinois an ordinance was passed that all wind turbines must be placed at a minimum of 2640 feet from a PROPERTY LINE. Waivers are allowed, which can reduce the turbine setback down to 1,500 feet from a residence ONLY if the host or neighbor agrees to the wind energy company’s waiver. 1,500 feet from a residence is the minimum distance allowed. The waivers would be negotiated with individual neighbors and land owners. Setbacks from roads or easement are now set at twice the turbine height. “Mainstream Renewables was attempting to develop a wind farm in Boone County, but tonight’s vote by well-informed county board members effectively rejected the wind industry’s claims that industrial wind turbines were merely “annoying” and not necessarily “harmful” at distances less than 0.5 miles from property lines. Mainstream Renewable’s attorney, James Griffin, tried to make claims that the setback waiver would be “unconstitutional,” but the Boone County State’s attorney did not support his argument.”   Boone County setback

In Falmouth, MA where the wind turbines have been a source of ongoing headaches for local government and residents, it now comes to light that the City government was advised by Vestas that the noise ratings of the turbines would be substantially higher under certain conditions and that the manufacturer had concerns about safety from ice throw. The 2010 letter which has just come to light states “The manufacturer also needs confirmation that the Town of Falmouth understands they are fully responsible for the site selection of the turbine and bear all responsibilities to address any mitigation needs of the neighbors.” It is hard to fathom why it took five years for this letter to be made public.

We provide information on the wind turbine siting rules for Freedom, Maine where “To protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Freedom, Turbines shall be set back from the property line of any non-participating land owner a distance of no less than 13 times the turbine height.” That would be about 4,000 feet for a 300’ turbine. The noise measurements are standard 5 decibels over background and shadow flicker is limited to 10 hours a year.  Maine setback ……

A developer of wind energy said Tuesday she’s excited to begin construction of a wind turbine park in rural Greenwich and looks forward to the project generating money for the community.

But Jensen is way ahead of herself, according to an attorney for a group of rural Greenwich residents opposed to the project.

“They don’t have all their ducks in a row,” said the attorney, Sam Randazzo of the Columbus-area firm McNees Wallace & Nurick. He represents the group of residents calling themselves Greenwich Neighbors United.

The lawyer, who specializes in energy and Jensen were in the same room following a Greenwich Township Trustees meeting on Tuesday. After the township officials met, Randazzo explained to a roomful of residents who oppose the project that Jensen has work to do before construction can begin.

Jensen listened to Randazzo without expressing noticeable outward signs of disapproval.

Randazzo has said out of the project’s 25 turbines, 62 percent violate the minimum setback requirements, amounting to “at least 100 (affected) property owners.”…

Source: ‘They don’t have all their ducks in a row’

Are Ohio’s farmers beginning to say NO to BigWind, but YES to solar?

The Huron County Greenwich Windpark project is in the spotlight this week as citizens continue to battle what they believe has been an unfair and legally questionable process before the Ohio Power Siting Board.  We imagine many Ohio communities feel empathy for the Greenwich residents.   One issue that is in dispute concerns the OPSB’s interpretation of the law concerning when consent must be given by neighboring landowners when a setback waiver is requested.   It appears that OPSB does not quite know, or perhaps is not willing to say at this juncture, how it applies the law.   We are not aware of the OPSB having ruled in this area previously and so we were puzzled by the comment of the wind developer’s attorney, Sally Bloomfield.    “Bloomfield said that if GNU’s interpretation were adopted, it would be a marked departure from prior law and practice. In the past, the Siting Board has consistently interpreted the law to say that any waiver “has to be granted by the people who were affected” by it, she explained.” 

We know of no previous rulings on the issue of waiver consent and no prior interpretations of the law.  Notwithstanding,  the law appears to provide the prerequisite for all abutting property owners to give consent when waivers are granted.   Bloomfield seems to be adding her own interpretation and introducing language that is neither in the law or the rule.   The OPSB is continuing to mull over this conundrum and we have no idea when they might issue any clarifications.  We do know that every wind-affected community will be watching closely.    And from the story below, it looks as though Senator Seitz will be watching too.

Meanwhile, next door in Indiana,  wind developers are happily working away expanding existing sites and looking for new ones on which to erect up to 2,000 new wind turbines.   This would triple the number they have now.   Indiana is touted as having suitable lands and strong winds along wiith a good geographic position to serve demand centers like Chicago and Indianapolis.  One cloud on Indiana’s turbine filled horizon is the ultimate rules for the government’s Clean Power Plan.   

“One particularly sticky issue: EPA’s proposed “clean power plan” rules don’t give a utility any credit, under the CO2-lowering mandates, for using green energy in its generation portfolio if it buys wind power from outside its home state. If that proviso stands, Indiana’s wind industry could be hurt because it currently sells the bulk of its power to non-Indiana utilities. They would be newly motivated to drop their Indiana contracts and buy their green energy from wind farms in their own states. Utilities and other interests are lobbying the EPA to drop the rule giving credit only to home-state-bought green energy. The final EPA rules are expected out this summer. States also will have a say in the matter, so they’ll have to be lobbied, too.”

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the proposed rule on home-state-bought green energy is removed.   This is a very important issue especially for states that may lack reliable and affordable resources within their own borders.

While Ohio’s wind woes continue unabated, we were somewhat amused by the new embrace of solar energy by farmers in Ohio’s NW counties.  The Mansfield News Journal reports: “It’s solar energy, however, that’s making real inroads into the farming communities of the region today, and as far as Rick Niese is concerned, the reason is simple. “Actually, we forget that we have them. I thought we would see a glare from the road. There is no glare. They’re not reflecting, they’re absorbing. No muss, no fuss,” he said. “My dad and I were talking about this the other day. We wish you could go around and do this and actually forget about the windmills, because you don’t even know it. The windmills, you’ve got them out there in everybody’s face, everybody sees them. We really like the idea of solar versus wind.”   

So do we, Mr. Niese. So do we…..

An effort by opponents to stop a proposed Ohio wind farm, which includes a legally questionable maneuver to prevent property owners from granting variances, has the support of the state legislature’s most outspoken critic of renewable energy.

Greenwich Windpark, one of the few wind energy projects moving forward in Ohio, was approved by the state Power Siting Board in August. However, opponents, along with state Sen. William Seitz, have requested a rehearing and want to apply stricter rules than those that were in effect when the Siting Board ruled last summer.

Earlier this month, Seitz provided Midwest Energy News with materials from Greenwich Neighbors United (GNU) in Huron County as an example of “the efforts of local folks…to fight ‘Big Green Wind.’”…

Meanwhile, in a pending rulemaking proceeding, GNU is urging the Siting Board to change its rules so that any adjacent property owner could prevent a waiver by another property owner, even if the waiver would not affect the person objecting to it.

“I believe it says all adjacent property owners to that wind farm have to sign waivers” for a setback or any other variance, maintained Ledet. “I think that’s something that’s going to have to be battled out in court.”

“We want to make sure the Ohio Power Siting Board is doing what the Ohio Power Siting Board should be doing for the citizens of Ohio,” Ledet also said. “Are they concerned about our safety and our welfare and our property rights?”…

Ledet said GNU is also trying to reach out to other communities “to help other people that are going to be facing the same onslaught” from wind farms.

For the time being, though, SB 310 and HB 483 have apparently put the brakes on most in-state wind development….

State lawmaker part of effort to stop Ohio wind project | Midwest Energy News.

BigWind creates ‘Chaos’ at the Ohio Power Siting Board

This week several filings have been made with the Ohio Power Siting Board.  Union Neighbors United has requested a rehearing on the OPSB’s approval of Everpower’s motion to extend the certificate expiration date in Phase I of Buckeye Wind.  Ohio law requires that extensions be granted only after applications to amend a certificate are investigated, subjected to hearing and appeal and some due process accorded to the public.  UNU asserts Everpower is seeking to avoid due process because any delay in obtaining the extension would subject them to the new setback rules which require measurement from property lines.  The UNU application for rehearing makes the case that Everpower is simply attempting to avoid these new requirements. Moreover, UNU points to the Blackfork Wind and the Paulding County Timber Road III projects (also represented by the Vorys law firm) that filed similar extension requests in order to get around the new law that seeks to protect the property rights of landowners in and around the footprint of a wind project.

 It is important to note, again, that the OPSB has failed to properly adopt its revised rules because they were not submitted to the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. This means that the whole issue of what rules even apply to any wind development are up in the air. The ones who lose in the chaos are citizens who are trying to protect themselves and their communities. The OPSB has heaped insult on top of injury by not only leaving in question what the rules are, but also unlawfully suspending the rules for project extensions in order to accommodate the wind developers who are trying to duck the laws.  What a mess.

The Greenwich Wind project in Huron County is yet another example of the regulatory chaos.   The Omega Corporation, one of the entities impacted by the Greenwich Wind project, filed to extend the time period for the community to intervene in this project. They were denied.  We have also attached their application for a rehearing of the Board’s denial.  This is another indictment the OPSB and its failure to faithfully and fairly implement the laws regarding wind development.   Further information on this and all other wind cases pending before the OPSB can be found on the OPSB website at http://www.opsb.ohio.gov/opsb/index.cfm/Cases/ .  If you think you live in a ‘SAFE’ place away from BigWind, you will rethink your theory….

We will keep you abreast of what happens next in this drama.  It is complicated but very much worth taking the time to understand because the future of a number of Ohio wind developments hangs in the balance….

It may not be too late to stop development of the Greenwich Windpark, attorney Sam Randazzo told about 75 township residents and visitors at a Greenwich Neighbors United informational meeting Tuesday…

via Greenwich residents request wind farm rehearing – Times-Gazette | Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio.

906 Homes IN OHIO are less than a mile from a turbine…. | Welcome to Greenwich Neighbors United

This is Huron county, Ohio, where a developer has proposed another project for Ohio. Do you have friends/family that live there? Call them and ask them to get involved! Don’t think this couldn’t be YOU next….

Take a look, what we now call home, Greenwich, Ohio an historical rural farming community will become a Wind-Powered Electric Generation Facility unless “We the People” let our governor, state and federal representatives, the Ohio Power Siting Board [always include case no. 13-0990-EL-BGN when communicating with them] on down know of your displeasure! Get moving Greenwich, click on the menu buttons to the left, you will be taken to the page where you may email them. Oh, and by the way, our township trustees are still also very much a part of this, so don’t forget to become involved at both the township & county levels see schedule below!…

via 906 Homes are less than a mile from a turbine…. | Welcome to Greenwich Neighbors United.