BigWind blowing lots of hot air in Ohio (and Indiana)

 

Speaking up and speaking out are important – we are reminded of the phrase “you create your own future.” At the risk of seeming over confident, we think those who are speaking out in Ohio and in Indiana are truly creating a better future for themselves and their communities.

First things first. One Van Wert County Commissioner has stepped forward to publicly express what he thinks and we blogged about this last week. Todd Wolfrum was first elected County Commissioner in 2013. He is a practicing attorney who also writes a weekly column for the local newspaper pertaining to estate planning and other legal matters of interest to the public. Commissioner Wolfrum also sits on the local hospital board, the Community Investment Corporation and he is President of the Regional Planning Commission. His main interests are promoting advanced education and the generation of business opportunities in the Van Wert area. In winning his current seat on the Board of County Commissioners, Wolfrum defeated the Superintendent of Vantage Career Center in a landslide – garnering 65% of the vote. Why is this important? Because the Vantage Superintendent is an outspoken supporter of industrial wind who has testified on behalf of wind. Vantage operates the wind technician training programs for local developers. Wolfrum’s credentials speak to the fact that he is not some crazy anti-wind nut to be ignored.

On July 2nd, Commissioner Wolfrum used his newspaper column to express his thoughts on wind. He questions what would happen if Sub HB 190 were to pass (which it won’t) giving local commissioners more authority over siting and setbacks. He states that after giving Iberdrola a 70-80% tax reduction through PILOT because Van Wert County had chosen to be designated as an Alternative Energy Zone, the Commissioners realized they had made a mistake and they rescinded their AEZ designation going forward. Now, they speculate that if a developer wanted to get a tax break, they would have to come up with a proposal and put it up for a vote – but who would be eligible to vote? Everyone in the County? “It does not seem appropriate that areas that stand only to benefit from a taxing scheme be allowed to vote to burden another area.”….” I don’t know a definition of fair that would allow Van Wert City voters, an overwhelming majority of the school district, to determine this issue for Liberty Township.”…”But, imagine if we started giving tax breaks to incentivize a hog farm to locate next door to you?”…” If you are in the pro crowd, I would advise against trying to pressure us to force windmills on a population that, as of now, does not want them.” …” And perhaps there is no way to win support. But if a majority of people in a zone for a proposed wind farm cannot be convinced to accept a tax plan, then someone will need to explain why it should be forced on them over their objection, because that is really the only thing that has been proposed to date.”

This is something to think about as the legislature continues to grapple with how to deal with the renewable mandate. Before December 31, 2016, the General Assembly (Ohio) must do one of three things: eliminate the mandates, continue the “temporary freeze” or resume the mandates. Governor Kasich has said he will not accept the elimination of the mandates. But, resumption of the mandates will put pressure on communities where developers want to build. Almost every community with the exception of Hardin County and perhaps Seneca will, like Logan County and now Van Wert, object to the burden of hosting an industrial wind facility or granting tax incentives for doing so. Why mandate a source of power generation that requires tax incentives that most are unwilling to support in their community? The reality of Ohio is that we rank 7th nationally in population density and we are not a suitable place for the development of industrial wind. Perhaps, Commissioner Wolfrum has made that point a little clearer for our legislators.

In Indiana, the story is the same. Multiple counties are pushing back hard and “A wind-farm aversion is driving a handful of other rural counties – including some that already have turbines – to put moratoriums on any future development as local debate unfolds. “They’re losing favor all over the state,” said Campbell, who’s now working with like-minded opposition in other communities. Ben Kenney, of the Indiana Office of Energy Development is reported to have pledged that “the state won’t push for wind-energy projects where they’re not welcome. “ via:  http://www.batesvilleheraldtribune.com/news/local_news/wind-farms-whipping-up-opposition-across-rural-indiana/article_c0e2464e-b771-50a9-a4ac-14cd84f738d2.html  

How about it in Ohio? We think the Ohio Public Utilities Commission and the Ohio Power Siting Board has one of the worst records of facilitating wind development over the objections of Ohio communities who do not want them. And now comes the appointment of Vorys attorney Howard Petricoff to the Public Utilities Commission. Word on the street is that Mr. Petricoff has demonstrated a poor record of acting in the public interest during his career representing wind developers and others in the electricity business. In fact, the Statehouse news reports are that “The top Democrat on that Senate panel, Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), likewise wants hearings on whether Gov. John Kasich’s nominee is the best fit for the office…. As the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Williams said in an interview she is “not impressed” with the governor’s selection.” Petricoff’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:00 in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. 

Tuesday is a double header of sorts in that oral arguments will be heard in the Ohio Supreme Court on Champaign County’s appeal of the OPSB approval of Amendments to the Buckeye Wind project. The Court will convene at 9:00 a.m. sharp and anyone who is able to attend is encouraged to do so. A show of support for Champaign County and the Townships would be appreciated.  The County and Townships assert two points in their appeal:

A. The Board’s approval of Applicant’s amendments in its Order of February 18, 2014 and its Order of May 19, 2014, without holding a required hearing was unreasonable and unlawful, as such amendments would result in a material increase in the environmental impact of the facility or a substantial change in the location of all or a portion of such facility.

B. The Board’s approval of the amendments in its Order of February 18, 2014 and its Order of May 19, 2014, without hearing was unreasonable and unlawful, as it denied Appellants County and Townships the only opportunity to be heard.

If the Court finds in favor of Champaign County and the amendments are sent back to the OPSB for a hearing, it is presumed that property line setbacks would be applied to the EverPower Project. A separate pending appeal from Union Neighbors United in connection with the extension of the certificate for Buckeye I has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Recent maddening news is that the wind lobby (aka Big Wind) is ramping up their $$green$$ machine to go after more of everything: more “purchased” politicians to deliver more federal tax credits and more local tax incentives; more lenient conservation rules; more renewable mandates; more biased news reports; blah blah blah. American Wind Action (“AWA”) has been born. “AWA, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) advocacy group, can engage in political campaign activities as long as those efforts are not its primary activity. At its launch, it claimed an “initial seven-figure budget.” Enfield declined to specify just how much AWA has raised so far or where it will target its funding. But he indicated the main focus will be states where pro-wind-energy policies such as tax breaks and minimum requirements for renewable energy appear to be at risk.” Look for AWA recruits in your neighborhood or under a rock at your area career center and defend against them because, as we said at the outset, “You create your own future.”….

The U.S. wind energy industry is the fastest-growing new source of electricity in the country. But it’s not resting on its laurels, especially in an election year.

Hence the launch of American Wind Action, a group that will promote the benefits of wind energy to the public…

“We will be working to identify and activate supporters of wind energy to encourage action from their elected officials, and we will educate the public about the actions and positions those officials take on wind energy…

Source: Turbine industry aims to keep tailwind blowing

States that pay the most for power FORCE you to BUY BIGWIND

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(note California, the leader in BigWind) video here: Foxbusinessnews

In the video with Stu Varney, with energy expert Robert Bryce, he details the insane cost of attempting to power economies with sunshine and breezes; and does what policy makers have failed or refused to do: he connects the bitter consequences, born by the many, with the follies of the feckless few.New study finds states that offered greater support for green energy, pay more for electricity. Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Robert Bryce with more….(stopthesethings.com)

Why don’t our Ohio Representatives understand this simple truth? Instead, they are being persuaded by the sales teams who advocate for BigWind, like Iberdrola, Everpower, Apex and now Amazon. Remember, Amazon wants to purchase the wind energy, but NOT build their facilities withIN a wind energy blueprint…hmmmmm…..

Source: States that pay the most for power

NW Ohio, eyed for ‘wind corridor’, may now change map

Due to the POOR wind in Ohio, per the National Renewable Energy Lab, Representative Brown must surely be including OTHER STATES in his ‘wind corridor’?! All the Ohio turbines produce energy a mere 30% of the time, and we know from our previous post, this intermittent energy is EXPENSIVE and not necessary.  Is someone padding the pockets of these legislators? Why would they want to INcrease our electricity rates? Why would they want to HURT our businesses and, eventually, our job security? Why would they want to take away our property rights???????

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would create an Ohio Wind Corridor encompassing much of the northwestern portion of the state that could be spared from property setback restrictions the industry contends make new large-scale wind farms impractical.

“This is the area that has the most consistent wind patterns to allow [the wind industry] to make investment with a reasonable return,” said Rep. Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green), who is sponsoring House Bill 190 with Rep. Tony Burkley (R., Payne).

Mr. Brown said he’s open to adding other geographic territory to the corridor.

The language was inserted in House Bill 190 last week as a possible way for the region to get around restrictions enacted in 2014 that require newly installed wind turbines to be located at least 1,300 feet from the nearest property line. Prior law required the extended tip of a turbine to be at least 1,125 from the nearest home….

The bill would allow the Ohio Power Siting Board to develop alternative minimum setback restrictions within the northwest wind corridor that, Mr. Brown said, could be geographic or project specific. As introduced, the bill would have given counties the option of imposing the old setback requirement instead of the more restrictive one…
The bill is pending before the House Public Utilities Committee but is not expected to move before lawmakers recess as early as next week for the summer…

In testimony submitted last week, Julia F. Johnston of Urbana told the committee that the impact of wind farms, particularly in mechanical accidents, can stretch well into neighbors’ property.

“Not every location is a good place for wind development,” she said. “Most wind developers are not in the energy business but are private equity investors looking for a handsome return subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers.

“H.B. 190 would now add Ohio families living in the Wind Corridor as subsidy providers where they would be forced to donate their land if setbacks are not measured from property lines,” Ms. Johnston said. “We call this ‘trespass zoning.’…”
Source: NW Ohio eyed for creation of ‘wind corridor’

Legislators push for an ‘Ohio Wind Corridor’ !!?!!

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Tomorrow morning a Substitute House Bill 190 will be introduced in the House Public Utilities Committee to establish a designated geographic area or “Wind Corridor” where turbine setbacks could be dramatically changed. The substitute bill seems to remove local elected officials from the decision-making and empower the OPSB to destroy any county within the corridor. Sub HB 190 would also create a new classification of “”Large wind farm”: an electric generating plant that consists of wind turbines and associated facilities with a single interconnection to the electrical grid that is designed for, or capable of, operation at an aggregate capacity of 50 MW or more.

While we have not had an opportunity to fully understand what the bill intends, it appears that any project which has been approved by the OPSB can now be amended without requiring the current property line setbacks to be used. Language in the bill also seems to indicate that if a wind developer has paid a fee to the grid operator to commence the study of grid interconnection, even though a filing with the OPSB may not have occurred, the following setback would apply:

(B) The minimum setback for a wind turbine described in division (A) of this section shall be equal to a horizontal distance, from the turbine’s base to the property line of the wind farm property, equal to one and one-tenth times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its base to the tip of its highest blade and be at least one thousand one hundred twenty-five feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine’s nearest blade at ninety degrees to the exterior of the nearest, habitable, residential structure, if any, located on adjacent property at the time of the certification application.

Ohio and federal Bigwind lobbyists belong in a circus

The three ring circus may need additional rings as the activity ramps up.  The wind lobby is frantic and stories from across the nation attest to it.   In Ohio, HB 190 to give the County Commissioners power to repeal the current property line setbacks has been referred to the House Public Utilities Committee.   No hearings have been scheduled yet and we will keep you advised of any activity.  Tom Stacy described the legislation as like giving the County Commissioners the power of eminent domain without the obligation to compensate the property owner.  Well said!    

At the federal level, a group of Democrats introduced a new bill to require electric utilities to deliver 30 percent of their supply from renewable sources by 2030. The renewable energy standard (RES) bill introduced yesterday updates a policy proposal that clean energy advocates have pushed for years. It would impose at the federal level the same type of mandate that currently exists in dozens of states.  (And remains frozen in Ohio for now.)   Perhaps the increasing number of states repealing their mandates has caused the wind lobby to move to the federal level to combat the states.

Here in Champaign County, after months of silence, the Editorial Board of the Urbana Daily Citizen wrote an opinion piece.  While not coming out in direct opposition to the EverPower Buckeye Wind project, we discern a bit more hesitancy on their part as they wonder what kind of corporate citizen a new owner would be?  They acknowledge that local officials have concerns about problems that could arise during and after construction.  While it is a mild Editorial, it is at least a recognition that there are two sides to the issue….

The latest buzzword to enter the wind turbine saga is “yieldco,” and this new wrinkle adds a dimension to the potential construction of Buckeye/Champaign wind farms.

Partially because of a more nimble type of investment model called a yieldco that is apparently well-suited to progressive energy development such as wind, EverPower (the parent company of two utility-scale wind farms proposed for Champaign County) may now be worth as much as $1.5 billion…

If EverPower is acquired by investors who are structurally better able to finance the farms, their construction is more viable financially. On the flip side, if it is so easy for the wind farms to change owners, how do their prospective neighbors know for certain the farms will be good citizens once constructed?

We don’t know if the potential sale of EverPower to an owner with more financial prowess will equate to the locally-sited farms being constructed. There are still too many other variables….

If a Republican wins the White House and Republicans maintain their majorities in Congress in 2016, we can’t help but think EverPower faces an uphill battle constructing the proposed wind farms here. In addition, Ohio lawmakers have required more distance between homes and the turbines (also known as setbacks) for future projects…

Complicating the process further, EverPower faces deadlines for starting construction on each project, according to state law. While such deadlines are sometimes flexible based on other factors, EverPower also continues to face persistent legal opposition from Union Neighbors United and a handful of well-heeled residents who live near the proposed projects. In addition, some county agencies and townships have begun to express concerns about problems the farms could cause during and after construction.

One of the biggest hurdles EverPower will face is its application for “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) status from Champaign County Commissioners. This process involves so many monetary variables that the county auditor struggles to pin down the differences in how much local entities would draw in taxes versus the lesser but more predictable payments in lieu of taxes.

When and if EverPower does apply for PILOT, there will be a renewed push from proponents and opponents to win the hearts and minds of county commissioners and the citizens who elect them…

The proposed wind projects began rather stealthily with the company signing up private landowners to leases that will allow the turbines and their system’s infrastructure to be installed. This is not a public utility, but it is under the authority of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and it is heavily reliant on the public sector incentives supplied by our tax money for its birth and survival….

Where are the wind turbines? – Urbana Citizen – urbanacitizen.com.