Hey BigWind, OH citizens have the right to HEAR!

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Isn’t our government supposed to be BY and FOR the people? Then why is it that the people, of Ohio, have a government board, the OPSB (Say Yes to BigWind Board) which is allowed to APPROVE BigWind projects Looooonnnnng before Ohio citizens know anything about it? Case in point is below. Land was leased 10 years ago, for a BigWind project, yet the first public informational meeting was not held until 2018!?! This is outrageous. Ohio citizens have the right to have the light shown on these deceptive, unethical practices of BigWind…..

The project slated for Erie and Huron counties impacts the following townships: Groton, Oxford, Lyme, Ridgefield, Sherman, Norwich and Richmond. Townships were an ideal choice for this project’s location because, absent a referendum, the residents have no direct voice in the matter.

Most residents want a referendum, and the time for one is critical. I agree that a referendum should not be held after a project receives certification from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). The time for both a referendum and a public meeting is when leases are offered to landowners. Although land for the Emerson Creek Wind Project was leased as long ago as 2009, the first public information meeting required by the OPSB was nine years later in November 2018….

Information about the cost and financial backing of this project is not available. When I asked the Power Siting Board about that, public spokesman Matt Butler replied, “It is not uncommon for an applicant to request confidential treatment of financial data, as APEX has done in this case.” A number of published sources state that without tax benefits and outright subsidies, no company would be involved in building a wind project.

The issues are serious. These turbines are 655 tall…

Anne Southworth

Monroeville

Ohiocitizensneedtohear

Will (Ohio) property values be ‘Gone w the Wind’?

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As BigWind pushes Northern Ohio, one resident sees through the smoke and mirrors…

The Big Wind industry will use studies and carefully massaged statistics to send a message to communities hosting “wind farms that there is no real loss of property value. Well, as wind leases continue to be signed throughout Seneca, Sandusky, Huron and Erie counties, let’s take a closer look before we get blown away.

Important to note that all the studies in this article were based on industrial wind turbines that were a maximum of 477 feet tall. Industrial wind turbines proposed for the Seneca, Sandusky, Huron and Erie counties will reach heights of up to 652 feet and possibly much higher than that in future phases of the projects.

The setbacks (how far a turbine can be from a property) were, in some studies, much further than the 1,125-foot setback now required by Ohio law.

Current Ohio setbacks (1,125 feet) are the lowest in the four-state region and significantly lower than other European countries from non-participating properties. Most states and countries require a distance of 3 times the turbine length for safety reasons.

Turbine blade throws are not uncommon. The turbines in Paulding County (290 feet) have had a blade failure. The 7-year-old turbines in Van Wert (467 feet) had a blade throw this past summer that traveled over 800 feet in conditions that did not include high winds. This past spring, a turbine blade was thrown in Hardin County Hog Creek Wind LLC (367 feet). These are just Ohio blade throws.

There are 4-5 homes within a mile of the Hog Creek Wind LLC based on filings at the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Based on reports filed at the Ohio Power Siting Board, there would be about 800 homes within a half mile of the turbines in the proposed Republic Wind LLC and a similar amount within the proposed Seneca Wind LLC.

Home values decline anywhere from 8 percent to 65 percent within a 2-mile radius of the turbines in a “wind farm.”

The median home value in Seneca County is $108,381; in Huron County, it is $129,856; in Erie County, it is $125,400; and in Sandusky County, it is $123,145.

If we take the lowest median home value of $108,381 (could this be why Big Wind decided to pick on Seneca County first) and factor a modest 25-percent loss, that would be $27,095 per home….

The conservative estimated loss of property value within the Bellevue area alone could exceed $27 million!

Conclusion: The above estimate doesn’t take into consideration the increased insurance costs, burdened by leaseholders related to liability in the “wind farm” operation or further damage to home values in Good Neighbor Agreement-Wind Leases. Your county commissioners absolutely have the power to limit or stop these wind projects… Today, the counties of Hardin and Van Wert have rescinded their AEZ contracts and have repelled further wind project proposals for the good of all their residents.

resident of Bellevue

Letter to the Editor link

Ohio BigWind news is spinning fast

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Events are spinning fast in the world of wind.  In just one short week, much occurred in Ohio…

Seneca/Sandusky County

Apex requested the OPSB hearings on Seneca and Sandusky County’s Republic Wind be postponed while they “amend” their project.   Speculation as to the reason behind the delay and the amendment include uncertainty over the outcome of hearings on HB 114 and whether property line setbacks will be reduced.  Apex had anticipated the bill would be passed last spring, but setback changes remain unresolved.  That being the case, it is believed Apex does not have the necessary Good Neighbor Agreements to move forward with their original plan.  There is also talk of Apex moving the location of some turbines out of hostile townships to more welcoming townships. In the event the legislature gives township voters the right of referendum, would taking turbines out of the hostile townships ease Apex’s entry into Seneca County? 

We understand further that two of the Seneca County Commissioners sought legal representation concerning the Republic Wind Project including the existing Alternative Energy Zone designation.  Township trustees also sought legal counsel for the purpose of intervening in the case before the Ohio Power Siting Board.   The County Prosecutor’s Office believed they would be unable to simultaneously represent the opposing interests of the County and the Townships and so the County hired its own lawyer.  They hired Michael Settineri of the Vorys law firm who represents almost all of the wind developers in the state. WOW! 

Apparently, Commissioner Mike Kerschner, who has been sympathetic to people of Seneca County never had a chance to object or participate in discussion about this move.  Something is definitely rotten Seneca County.  Radio ads are also being broadcast in NW Ohio against Kerschner by the ‘Economic Prosperity Project’.  Readers may recall last March when this group sent out a mailer urging that “Republican legislators need to STAND UP to Bill Seitz” because “He is using his influence to prevent $4.2 billion from being invested in Ohio wind energy.”   The address associated with the Economic Prosperity Project was registered to Innovation Ohio, a liberal think tank run by former Speaker Budish’s Democrat chief of staff, Keary McCarthy, and former top Strickland administration policy chief Jeannetta King. The “Economic Prosperity Project” is a new corporation registered to a former Strickland administration operative, too.

While these political shenanigans are playing out in Seneca County, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray is making the rounds in support of wind.   Cordray visited One Energy in Findlay where he expressed his support for wind. Next week he will be joined on the campaign trail by former President Obama.   It is noted also that Cordray appears to be currying favor with farmers who oppose stricter controls on manure disposal in order to clean up Lake Erie.

Huron County

In Huron County, the Greenwich Windpark project has been sold to a company called Swift Current Energy.  A group of mostly Ivy League investment bankers looking to make a bunch of money.  A series of articles below tracks a bit of history surrounding Swift Current.  Readers may recall last year General Motors announced that it would purchase wind from two projects. One project was Northwest Ohio Wind in Paulding County and the other was HillTopper in Logan County, Illinois.   The HillTopper project was a controversial project in Illinois where the original developer agreed to make payments to nonparticipating landowners on an annual basis and to establish a property value insurance program that would be managed through the Logan County tax assessor’s office to compensate homeowners should they experience a loss in the value of their property after the wind farm becomes operational.  

The project never moved forward until recently when Swift Current purchased it and since late 2016 worked to redevelop the HillTopper project, including adding new project participants; redesigning and re-permitting the project; contracting the energy on a long-term basis; and raising financing for the construction and operations of the project. Enel Green Power is managing construction for the project and will be the long-term owner and operator of the wind farm.  The HillTopper project has not been without some local controversy.  We wonder if Swift Current will also seek to sell Greenwich energy output to GM.   It is interesting to see that they were not deterred in buying a troubled Illinois project and getting it up and running by re-engineering the whole project.

In Ohio’s 13th Senate District, Rep. Manning is seeking to swap his seat in the House with his mother who is term limited in the Senate.  This appears distasteful on its face.  Neither Rep. Manning nor his mother, Senator Manning, have seemed interested in or sympathetic to the wind setback concerns of their constituents in Huron and Lorain Counties.   We were interested to read about Rep. Manning’s opponent in the Senate race, Sharon Sweda.   Ms. Sweda has served as president of the Lorain County Association of Realtors, chairman of the board for the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors and district vice president for the Ohio Association of Realtors.  How would she respond to a question about the property value of a home where a neighboring 600’ wind turbine’s nuisance effects trespassed onto the homeowner’s property while also sitting within the strike zone for flying blade fragments?  Someone should ask her on the record! She has nothing to lose by siding with the folks in the Greenwich Windpark footprint.

Lake Erie – Icebreaker

LeedCo and their Enviro buddies are making waves in Lake Erie over the Icebreaker project.  Over the objections of many wildlife advocates who protested the placement of wind turbines in the middle of one of the world’s most important migratory flyways, the OPSB staff recommended approval of the project with conditions.  In response, the backers of the Lake Erie wind farm and environmental and trade groups have agreed to proposed stipulations for the project in an Agreement.  In addition to Icebreaker, parties signing onto the prospective plan include the Ohio Environmental Council, the Sierra Club, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and the Business Network for Offshore Wind.  Now, in an effort to get the OPSB to back off the recommended stipulations, LEEDCo. Vice President of Operations David Karpinski says the stipulations  “make the project un-financeable and therefore are fatal conditions.” 

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Litigation

We hope the OPSB stands its ground and we also hope that they are aware of what is happening in other states with respect to the protection of migratory birds.   The battle over the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has expanded again, with eight states including New York and California filing a new lawsuit challenging the Interior Department’s scaled-back interpretation of the law’s reach.  In the suit filed this week, the states’ attorneys general assert Interior’s action endangers birds and “harms the states’ sovereign, ecological, and economic interests in robust federal protections of migratory birds from industrial and other human activities,” among other problems. Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey, Maryland and Oregon also joined in the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The lawsuit, as part of an effort to demonstrate that the states have the requisite legal standing, further asserts that “scientific, recreational, and birdwatching opportunities and aesthetic benefits … directly or indirectly generate economic activity and tax revenue for the states.”  

 Maybe Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, who is seeking to become our next Governor ought to join the other 8 states in protecting Ohio’s greatest natural resource.  How about it?  No doubt the AG’s staff are currently advising OPSB on how to address the pushback on the recommended stipulations which Icebreaker finds objectionable.  We think this is a BIG DEAL….

**and finally, if you are new to our site and haven’t heard, please read through our past few blogs. On August 26th, a Van Wert, Ohio turbine blade exploded. A 10 foot piece was launched at least 800 feet away….legislative decisions could impact YOU someday!**

 

How Big will the turbines be, planted next to you, in Ohio? Bigger than you think…

 

No sooner had we written about the prospects for the Clean Power Plan, Justice Scalia died and now there is much speculation about his successor and whether the U.S. Senate will hold hearings on any nomination that might be made by President Obama. We cannot speculate on what will happen but thought you should know the constitutionality of the Clean Power Plan hangs in the balance. In some states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, the Governor has ordered that no further work on the CPP be undertaken while in Kansas and Missouri, the legislatures are working to halt activity. Ohio waits to hear what happens next.

In advance of a major Wind Operations and Maintenance conference coming up in Texas, a report has been issued reviewing issues that are arising as the fleet of wind turbines deployed across America age. The numbers are sobering and should give any community thinking about approving a wind facility second thought. Principal findings include:

• Bearing failure/ repair & maintenance focus set to double by 2017

• Original Equipment Manufacturers could lose 15% share of the O&M market by 2020

• Condition Monitoring Systems & Analytics investment to increase 1/3 by 2017

• Optimization of power generation, not cost cutting the real driver of investment (63/37%)

This means among other things, the noise from turbines is going to get a lot louder as the turbines age and are in need of gearbox repair. Also, repowering existing turbines with longer blades will increase. Moreover, those turbines that cannot be viably repowered will be decommissioned (or left to rust in the fields). Finding Q13 “What is the single biggest focus for you over the next 12 months?” was decommissioning.

What does “optimization of power generation” mean? It means taller turbines and longer blades and it should mean longer setbacks. We think the giants are coming to Ohio. The FAA reviews all potential structures that exceed 200 feet in height for possible air traffic obstruction. Recently, they have reviewed a wind development planned for Bellevue for turbines listed at 660 feet! Bellevue straddles Erie, Huron and Sandusky Counties. We include an article about this sort of monster below with a link to the monster movie showing its construction.

Going back to the Operations and Maintenance issues, our colleague, Tom Stacy, advises us to think about them in the context of annually increasing renewable energy mandates. Tom says, “Consider the implications of annually ratcheting energy market share mandates with a total schedule term longer than the lifespans of wind turbines. The deployment rate must increase markedly in later years of the program when new turbines are required to meet both replacement of old machines as well to meet annual benchmarks. And all this to produce randomly timed energy without firm capacity – dictating redundant infrastructure that includes necessarily underutilized conventional power plant assets. “

With respect to the setbacks defined in law, the notion of having the minimum be defined as a formula like 3xtower height plus blade length would be more desirable than a fixed number like 1,250 feet from a property line. In the case of the 660’ turbines, the minimum would then be 1,980’. That is a significant difference.

If you haven’t read the blog from, yesterday, please see that Kevon Martis, Director of Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, has teamed up with Senator Seitz to challenge those who would seek to override the property line setback law through HB 190. They coined the phrase “trespass zoning” and have written a terrific opinion piece for the Ohio media. They conclude by saying: “Good neighbors don’t trespass. If Big Wind wants to be a good neighbor in rural Ohio, it needs to abandon its demand for trespass zoning.” The Lima News has printed the article and we hope the papers in Van Wert, Bellefontaine, Urbana and Springfield follow suit. We believe it was distributed to all of them.

Notwithstanding all of the above, on February 18th, Trishe Wind filed an Amendment to the next phase of the Blue Creek project in Paulding County proposing larger turbines and seeking to be considered under old rules that measure setbacks from homes even though Amendments to previously approved projects are supposed to be subject to the revised setbacks.  Looks like that ole “optimization of power generation”! Attention! Trespass Zoning coming to Paulding County…again!

  Enercon E126 – The Most Powerful Wind Turbine in the World

 

 

Ohio Windustry lobbying for opportunity to bribe our county commissioners

This week we saw some media coverage on HB 190 which seeks to effectively undo the increased setbacks enacted last summer for industrial wind turbines.    We have also received word of the wind industry’s relentless lobbying of  County Commissioners and the County Commissioners Association.  We would like to implement a counter campaign with billboards in the districts of the sponsors, Rep. Burkley and Rep. Brown.  

big story this past week comes from the U.K. where the Conservatives won what was to some, a surprising victory with the election of David Cameron and other Conservatives.  This is great news.  The report below notes: “Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat who served as energy secretary in the previous coalition government, lost his seat as his party suffered a rout that will leave the Conservatives to govern alone. While the Liberals were sympathetic to renewables, Conservatives have stressed security of energy supply and local people’s right to halt wind farms that some consider eyesores. “  Cameron has pledged to halt all further onshore wind development.

And looking at the growing field of Republican Presidential challengers, we should not forget Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who has been very out front on the issue of industrial wind siting.   In 2011, Walker proposed setbacks of 1,800 feet from a property line.   Subsequently, the Brown County Health Department designated wind turbines as a health hazard due to low frequency noise at the Shirley Wind Farm.  The legislature in Wisconsin did not extend setbacks further than their current 1,250 feet from a dwelling.  The Wisconsin Realtors Association has sued and the courts should decide the matter later this year.  In the meantime, Governor Walker has included $250,000 in his budget to study the health impacts of industrial wind. 

And up north in Huron County, Michigan, the local fight is on as new projects are on hold until siting revisions can be made at the County level.   The proposed changes to existing regulations have elicited the same kind of howls from wind developers that we too often hear in Ohio.  Funny, but if you only listened to the Ohio Industry, you would think that our setbacks and restrictions are the only ones in the world. Read below and you learn a different story.  Among the proposed changes to Huron County industrial wind zoning are:

 

• Turbines three miles from shoreline. Previously, not regulated

 

• Shadow flicker: max 10 hours/year for non-participating residences; 30 hours/year at participating. Previously, not regulated.

 

• Property setbacks: 1,640 feet from non-participating residences; 1,320 from property line. Previously, 1,320 feet…

 

A new bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives seeks to change wind turbine setback regulations which would enable wind energy companies to work within Ohio counties to license new wind farms. The legislation, House Bill 190, is co-sponsored by local representative Rep. Tony Burkley along with Representative Tim W. Brown (R – Bowling Green)….

via Burkley sponsors bill to allow wind turbine setback changes – Times Bulletin.