Why do some in Ohio fight against BigWind?

Senate President Larry Obhof surprised the Ohio caucus by naming Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) as Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Media reports noted “I look forward to Steve’s leadership of this committee,” said Obhof. “He has proven himself a hard-working, thoughtful, solution-oriented leader, and he understands the importance of developing a long-term energy policy that provides affordable options for Ohioans and protects our natural resources.”   Wilson was appointed to the Ohio Senate in 2017 and was elected to his first term in 2018. He currently serves on the Education; Finance; Insurance and Financial Institutions; Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs; and Ways and Means committees.  Sen. Wilson, a retired banker,  has not previously served as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee . He  is a co-sponsor of Sen. Dolan’s stand alone bill SB 238 to roll back property line setbacks.

With a new chairman installed, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources resumes its committee work this week.  It should be noted that HB 114 is not on the agenda.  Sen. Matt Huffman, attending a breakfast in Urbana on Saturday,  expressed his belief that there was just not enough time left in year to deal with HB 114.  Senator Huffman gave a brief speech while in town in which he said that there are significant manufacturing expansions occurring or planned throughout his District.  He is very concerned about these employers being able to attract employees. He said that if communities cannot supply a workforce, companies will begin to turn away from NW Ohio.  This begs the question, why would anyone want to live in the middle of an industrial power plant?  How inviting would it be to attract a workforce to an area that had become uninhabitable due to the proliferation of industrial wind turbines? 

As Lordstown, Ohio struggles to accept the loss of the GM plant there.  We should not forget it was only last May that the people of Paulding County destroyed a bit more of their environment and provided taxpayer subsidy (PILOT) to GM to “power” the Lordstown plant with wind. Guess wind and solar aren’t such great economic development/retention tools after all. Wonder how the folks in Paulding are feeling about now?

Out of curiosity, we visited the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to see if we could find more incorporations for Apex wind projects.  While it is not possible to determine where these projects might be, it was instructive to see how many limited liability companies have been created – some of them within the past couple of years. Here are eleven:

Apex                     Ashtabula Wind

Apex                     Buck Springs Wind LLC

Apex                     Emerson Creek Wind LLC

Apex                     Emerson Creek West

Apex                     Firelands Wind LLC

Apex                     Grant Ridge Wind LLC

Apex                     High Springs Wind LLC

Apex                     Honey Creek Wind LLC

Apex                     Long Prairie Wind I         

Apex                      Long Prairie Wind II

Apex                     Sugar Grove Wind LLC

The list, above, should remind all of us WHY it is important to persevere in this fight for property rights. This is a many year long battle, that must continue until our tax dollars no longer subsidize this inefficient energy……

There are many reasons why rural communities are fighting back against wind development. This isn’t some crusade against a cleaner source of energy, that would be silly to think that people against living in a wind turbine project want dirty air and water. What this boils down to is property rights guaranteed by the constitution, and the safety, health, and welfare of all citizens in the rural community.

First on the property rights issue. The rural communities are zoned agricultural/residential. Nothing about industrial wind turbines are either of those. The fact is, wind turbines are industrial electric generators. It is an oxymoron to call them wind “farms.” That is a fancy spin that pushes the idea of it being agricultural. And why do they push that? Because the wind industry expects a special land use exception to site wind turbines like they are agricultural.

I ask a simple question to the readers. Can anyone name one example of zoning regulation that measures someone’s industrial structure to the foundation of another person’s house? You can try to find it but it doesn’t exist. This is largely the language in wind ordinances that wind developers look for when attacking a rural community in the cloak of darkness. They want the public to think this is a farming operation so they can justify measuring these things to a house and not a property line. They want this to look like a confined feeding operation like that of a hog barn which can be measured to a house. Then you get into the argument that “I would rather have a wind turbine than a hog barn.”

Which leads to another question: When you build or choose to live in the rural community that is zoned for agriculture is it unreasonable to think you may experience agricultural nuisances? You know that comes with living rurally. A follow up to that, when you build or choose to live in the rural community that is zoned agricultural is it unreasonable to think you will be dealing with something industrial? Yes, that is unreasonable. It goes against the very essence of why people choose to live in the rural community.

Turbine manufacturers have recommended safety distances in their operations manual that is mainly established by Gcube insurance, the main insurer for liability of industrial wind turbines. The setbacks in these manuals are largely kept from the public for proprietary reasons. Shouldn’t the public have a right to know just how dangerous the wind industry’s own insurers define as what is safe? Setbacks all over the Midwest can easily be proven inadequate by many resources. If you want some specific information about proper setbacks please read some of the following links. Here is a study that proves that a 300′ turbine can sling debris over 1700′ from a physicist. Other recommendations based on safe setbacks can be found in many other places too (1, 2, and 3). As a final follow up to this section, ask any wind developer to produce a scientific, peer-reviewed, independent study that proves the setbacks they advocate for and claim are safe. They will duck and dodge. A developer recently turned that question around on me and I produced the study listed above along with two others studies. Then all I heard was silence.

This is about conflicting land uses and equitable zoning over all else. The language in leasing agreements plainly states there is a “no build” zone that extends out from a turbine. Measuring a turbine to someone’s house can deny them the right to develop their land as they see fit in the future. That is theft, it is referred to as trespass zoning. If developers want to site wind turbines, the zoning must be to a neighboring landowners property line unless they sign a “good neighbor agreement” also known as a setback waiver.

This is perfectly legal right now. But wind developers do not want to negotiate the property rights of all landowners in a footprint. They expect zoning law to allow them to steal uncompensated easements from all non-participating landowners as a part of their robbery scheme. That is unconstitutional. This is the source of the main opposition for people in the rural community.

Next, it is a quality of life issue. Wind developers constantly say there is no scientific evidence that wind turbines affect people’s health. Which poses another question. If that is true, then why does every leasing agreement offered admit all the health effects they so adamantly discredit actually do exist? I have copies of lease agreements and all the health effects are in every contract. And here is the bigger point, when you sign an agreement, you have been essentially “gagged” into speaking negatively about wind turbines to the public. There is a gag order in the agreement. Why are those terms necessary if the wind industry is so right about discrediting the health effects? Independent studies show wind turbines do affect people’s health and you can read that in many places (1, 2, and 3).

Thirdly, wind developers insist wind turbines do not have an adverse effect on home values. That can also be soundly refuted. They constantly cite a study done by the Lawrence Berkley Laboratory. That study is flawed. The Berkley study can be refuted in multiple sources (1 and 2). There is plenty of evidence that says wind turbines absolutely affect home values. Information about property value depreciation can be easily found (1, 2, 3, and 4.). If these reports are so wrong about property values and the wind industry is so right, then why do wind developers fight against offering the citizens a property value guarantee? Doesn’t that seem appropriate given the lengths they go to try to prove that wind turbines do not result in property depreciation?

Finally, some specific refutations of the pro-wind crowd from Van Wert County that was interviewed in your recent series. The Chamber of Commerce president said that the Blue Creek Project is the “number one tourist attraction” in Van Wert County. Where is the proof of that? I and many other residents have not once heard people visiting our community for the wind turbines. That is pure speculation and opinion. Secondly, she calls the turbine money a “game changer” for our schools. The two school districts that receive wind money have been on sound financial footing for multiple decades because their taxpayers have routinely supported ballot issues. It has nothing to do with wind payments. The annual payments are fractions of the annual operating expenses of these districts. School funding can easily be found online to prove it.

The only district in the county that doesn’t receive wind payments has far more academic opportunities than the other districts that do. The Van Wert City School district has fully implemented project-based learning through the New Tech Network, have two programs in the PTLW (project lead the way) methodology in Biomedical Science and Engineering, have a fully functional mass media television production studio on campus, a state respected robotics club, and a more diverse offering of courses. All of these without the addition of wind payments. So it’s a false narrative that wind payments are “game changers”; the truth is they help schools at a fraction of what is claimed.

It is also necessary to disclose some information regarding the pro-wind farmer interviewed in your piece. This farmer, admittedly, is compensated by hosting wind turbines. At a tune of $20,000 or so per year, this farmer has already received over $100,000 in payments and will garner over $400,000 by the end of the terms of the contract. Would that not be enough to say a wind turbine’s noise is “minimal?” Would that allow one to make no distinction between industrial wind turbines and a highway a mile away? If one believes so much in the cause, why would they not just donate their property for the cause? This comes down to money. Money for a minority of landowners at all of their neighbor’s expense.

In conclusion, folks fighting for their quality of life are not against better means to serve our complicated energy needs. We are fighting for our property rights, our health, our guaranteed safety, and energy policy that makes sense. I haven’t even touched on the false narrative perpetuated by the wind industry and how it’s saving the Earth. I have plenty of science that proves that is plainly false.

I also haven’t touched on the complicated economic picture that proves this technology firmly relies on tax and ratepayer support to produce a highly expensive, low-value product that negatively impacts all our bank accounts. Those are arguments that simply do not resonate with the average citizen. The complexities and dynamics are very difficult to comprehend. Lastly, the large amount of people who support wind technologies will never live near any wind installation, thus making it easy to push it on the rest of us.

— Jeremy Kitson, Citizens for Clear Skies, from Van Wert County, Ohio (Thank you to the News Sentinel of Ft. Wayne, for printing this letter!!!)

Jeremy’s printed letter

letter reprinted in entirety w permission from author

Advertisements

Ohio BigWind is on a leash-for now

Screen Shot 2018-06-28 at 7.52.33 AM

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met but announced there would be no vote taken on H.B. 114 to reduce wind turbine setbacks.   Wind power to the people!   Chairman Balderson announced in the Committee that they had received new information and language which they needed to seriously consider.  They will take the next several weeks to study the issues raised and it is likely they will come back in July to see if the bill can be voted out of Committee and go to the floor of the Senate.

Rep. Reineke also responded to the good work of his Seneca County constituents and issued a statement in support of keeping the law as it is, unchanged at 1,125’ from the property line.  Rep. Reineke’s statement is copied below.  You will note that he does not support putting the property rights of citizens up to a vote…please THANK HIM!

Sen. Dolan and wind lobbyist Terrence O’Donnell were huddling after the hearing, planning their next steps.  Know that a new wave will be coming our way!!

 

 

A statement from Rep. Reineke from Seneca County.

Bill Reineke — Ohio State Representative for District 88 — at Ohio Statehouse.

Over the past several months, I have taken time to conduct due diligence in understanding both sides of the wind setback debate and specifically how the 88th House District feels on the topic. From the beginning, it has been my sincere hope that a fair compromise could be reached between those in support of wind energy development and those with concerns. I have taken the time to listen, engage, and evaluate how my constituents view reducing the wind turbine setback requirements.

Based on my continued engagement with the constituents I was elected to represent, I have come to the conclusion that no changes should be made to Ohio’s current wind turbine setbacks. Under current law, the setbacks can be reduced if “good neighbor” waivers are reached with affected landowners in the project footprint. Property rights are key and landowners on both sides of this issue have valid arguments. In pursuit of a compromise, it is unfair for one set of landowners to completely win this debate, and property rights should never be subject to a vote.

Current law provides sufficient protection for the health, safety, and welfare of the district but also allows for the free market to work. If a wind developer and an affected neighboring landowner can come to an agreement, which results in a waiver being signed, then that is all that should be required.

I have appreciated the immense outreach and engagement from all of my constituents, both those who are for and those against reductions in the wind turbine setback requirements. This has been a contentious issue that I have personally wrestled with during these past several months, as valid arguments have been presented by both sides.

It is my sincere hope that our community can maintain a sense of civility in our discourse with each other. This issue has been divisive and pitted neighbors against each other. While it is alright to disagree, we must remember to be respectful of others’ opinions when engaging in public discourse.

As your State Representative, I will continue to monitor and advocate for the district on this important issue. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 614-466-1374 or email me at Rep88@ohiohouse.gov.

 

The relationship between Ohio and BigWind is now unknown

As more information is made public about the predatory practices of former Ohio Senator Cliff Hite there is talk of possible of criminal charges.   We have no idea what the outcome will be but think that Cliff Hite is now safely in the rearview mirror of Northwestern Ohioans.  So the question becomes NOW WHAT?  Will SB 188 remain viable? Who will succeed Hite?   Who will take up the crusade to destroy the northwestern quadrant of the state?

Hearings on SB 188 have been suspended for the moment.   Let us remember and share with our friends, that  “Setbacks are a ZONING issue.”

By modifying setback measurement to habitable structures rather than property lines, the adverse effects of shadow flicker and noise are allowed to burden the neighboring property of the non-participating landowner.  The consequence of this trespass is an uncompensated easement for nuisance.   No other industry in the entire State of Ohio enjoys such a right of easement.  Only industrial wind energy.   Eminent domain would be a more fair action because at least the neighbor would be compensated.  This point can be reinforced by showing that wind developers, like Invenergy, call their Good Neighbor Agreement a “Wind Farm Easement Agreement”:

Invenergy contract language states:

“1.          Grant of Effects, Sound and Shadow Easements. Owner hereby grants and convey to Developer an exclusive easement on, over, under and across all of the Owner’s Property to permit Generating Units or other wind energy conversions systems on adjacent property or elsewhere to cast shadows or flicker onto the Owner’s Property; impact view or visual effects from the Owner’s Property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference. “

Developer project maps defining the reach of turbine effects readily illustrate cases where an absentee landlord with a Good Neighbor Agreement is compensated for effects which will never be felt while the neighboring property owner who does live on his land would experience the effects but receive no compensation if setbacks are measured from the home.   Senator Balderson found these materials to provide credible support for our position and encouraged us to make this case with members of his committee.  We intend to follow up over the coming weeks.

At this juncture, we believe the law as currently in effect should remain untouched.   The only circumstance in which we could see a modification of the current law would be if the residents of an impacted township voted affirmatively to make a modification.

Without their champion, former Senator Hite, the industry is going to the know-nothing/adoring media to hammer away at the renewable mandates and the property line setbacks.  InsideClimate News, a left-wing enviro publication wrote a scathing article which was also published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Pointing a finger at legislators, like Bill Seitz, as being a tool of fossil fuels and they accuse any organization critical of wind as being biased, untruthful and funded by rich anti-wind groups.  Sounds like the mirror image of AWEA, Sierra, EDF, NRDC, League of Conservation Voters, Greenpeace and the developers.   An excerpt from  InsideClimate News states:

“Seitz despises wind turbines, and his dedication to rolling back Ohio’s energy standards stems in part from his passionate opposition to wind power. In fact, the only reason he voted for the standards back in 2008, he said, was a promise by the Senate president that he could write the language on turbines. Over time, Seitz has been behind restrictions that have wiped out any large new projects. “There will be no wind farms!” he said, with satisfaction.

 Turbines, Seitz said, take up too much room, don’t work when the wind doesn’t blow, and are not a good fit for his district, in the far corner of the state where it borders Indiana and Kentucky. His neighbors love spending time in their yards and don’t want any turbines wrecking their “view sheds,” or chopping up bats and birds, he said. And it doesn’t help matters that “it seems to be a cabal of urban millennials who love wind [power] and want to inflict the damage on rural landscapes—stick it out there in the country where all the bumpkins can’t do anything about it. That’s not very nice. So I’m not a big fan of wind.”

 Commenting on the story, Ned Ford, activist and perennial witness on behalf of renewables, wrote:

Seitz has harmed Ohio’s renewables not by his attacks on the standards, but by his promotion of the 2014 change to the wind siting rules.  The original rules were fine, but the 2014 rules make it nearly impossible to find a large enough property in Ohio to build wind.  Ohio’s wind setback rule is by far the most restrictive in the nation.  (Fake News!)…When we defeat the Republicans and Ohio has all the wind it wants Representative Seitz won’t need to look at a wind turbine ever, because his district is an urban one, and there won’t be any need for wind generation in urban areas to keep Ohio’s cities powered with clean and cheap electricity.  Farmers who lease land to wind turbines double their revenue per acre and lose only 5% of the useful land.  (More Fake News)

Additional articles speak to HB 114 which continues to be heard in the House Public Utilities Committee chaired by former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bob Cupp.  HB 114 would do away with renewable mandates.  In that regard, Governor Kasich who harbors thoughts of another Presidential run, seems to be more aggressively in favor of wind and solar which is, in the opinion of many, intellectually dishonest. One business journal writes:

“Ohio’s wind energy setback restrictions are also hindering the ability of businesses to access cost-effective renewable energy. Lifting this barrier to wind energy development through proposals such as Senate Bill 188 will make Ohio more attractive to new investments and help the state capture new jobs and tax revenues.  …   Gov. John Kasich understands that keeping the state open to renewable energy development is critical to drawing businesses to Ohio. The governor recently said, “it is critical that we continue developing the renewables, because, believe me, at the end of the day, if the Facebooks and the Googles and the PayPals and the Amazons think that we are not committed to renewable energy, they will not come here. Period, end of story.”

The above statements are absolutely false.  Ohio is a choice state and anyone who wants renewable energy can obtain it.  Moreover, we note that no industrial plant like Honda, Whirlpool or Ball has been prevented from building on-site wind turbines.   It is distressing that Governor Kasich is willing to perpetuate an untruth presumably to make millennials think he is pro-environment.

But it seems society and the media is corrupt from every point.   In Indiana, Apex is trying to convince elected officials that a 60 decibel noise limit is scientifically proven to be acceptable.  Included is an enjoyable article about the Mars Candy company and their extensive peer-reviewed research.  It sounds just like the wind developers when speaking of their “peer-reviewed” science on noise or cleaning carbon from the environment.  We leave you with this thought thanks to Mars:

“[Funding cocoa science] is quite clearly a sales thing to sell more chocolate because [the studies] suggest it’s not all that bad for you,” Coe said. “Chocolate companies can say they have scientifically proven that chocolate will lower your blood pressure, keep you from heart attacks.” …But Big Chocolate’s foray into nutrition research is a great case study in how industry can steer the scientific agenda — and some of the best minds in academia — toward studies that will ultimately benefit their bottom line, and not necessarily public health….Since then, mainly through the company’s scientific arm Mars Symbioscience, established in 2005, it has flooded journals with more than 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers….

 

With scare studies, policy drafts and political donations, industry groups turned Ohio lawmakers against policies they once overwhelmingly supported….

Source: InsideClimate News: How Fossil Fuel Allies Are Tearing Apart Ohio’s Embrace of Clean Energy