Rep Seitz ‘fights’ for Ohioans against BigWind

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There has been ongoing work behind the scenes in the Ohio General Assembly with regards to BigWind.  There had been speculation last year that HB 114 (repealing renewable mandates) and SB 238 (shortening setbacks) might be combined into a substitute Senate bill.   We believe the “McColley Compromise” (BigWind is being promoted by Sen Balderson and Beagle, too) is included in these discussions.   Speculation is that focused effort will resume after the Easter break…

The flurry of recent attacks on Rep. Seitz and current property line setbacks is not letting up.  This may be an indicator of panic on the part of the wind industry eager to get relief from protective setbacks while the Production Tax Credit is still available.  Recently, Rep. Seitz circulated a peer reviewed study of the distances ice or blade fragments could be thrown from a wind turbine.   In his email, Seitz noted “The study demonstrates that blade shear fragments can travel 700 meters to 2 kilometers, and ice throw distances range from 100-600 meters. Also of interest is table 1, showing setback distances around the world, the vast majority of which exceed current Ohio law and vastly exceed those proposed by SB 238. I highly recommend that OPSB staff undergo a careful review of this study as their history demonstrates scant attention to these objects of wind farm development.”

In response to Rep. Seitz’s effort to educate his colleagues, environmental activist/journalist,  Kathiann M. Kowalski, wrote a rebuttal of sorts attempting to discredit or marginalize the ice/fragment throw study by claiming that just because it is possiblefor a fragment to be thrown a certain distance, does not mean it is probable.   Wind News readers should be wary of any attempt by the wind industry to assert safety protections based on probabilities.   It is customary to evaluate safety on a basis of a “deterministic” study not a “probability” study.   We include in today’s issue an article by Lisa Linowes from a 2014 in Master Resource that speaks to this distinction:

 

“In assessing risk to the public, the wind industry typically assumes a probabilistic perspective where they examine the probability of failure and the chances of an individual being present at the time of the event. If the probabilistic assessment assumes that people are infrequently present when a blade might be thrown, for example, then it’s not surprising that the industry reports a low risk of harm even at close range.

 

According to William Palmer, a utility reliability engineer responsible for analyzing the impact on public safety at a nuclear facility in Ontario Canada, deterministic risk assessments provide a more accurate understanding of risk and necessary mitigation measures. Deterministic risk assessments require analysts to assume that a person is permanently standing at the limit of risk (edge of the safety zone), and are considered to be there during the accident. If people are nearby all the time, their risk of being hurt is high.”

 

Also, important to note this week are the publication of proposed rules for wind issued by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB).   They will be scheduled for review by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).  Given the above discussion, it is important to see how the OPSB deals with safety in the proposed rules:

 

“(3) In addition to the use of the safety measures enumerated in paragraph (E)(2) of this rule, the potential impact from ice throw shall be presumptively deemed to satisfy safety considerations if the probability of one kilogram of ice landing beyond the statutory property line setback for each turbine location is less than one per cent per year.” 

 

Ohio’s current minimum fixed setback distance (1,125 feet) is often less than the minimum safe distance specification contained in safety manuals issued by manufacturers of wind turbines.  In the Greenwich Windpark case from Huron County, a safety manual for the GE 2.3-116 model was filed with the OPSB during the certificate application process.   The safety manual states:

 

11.1 Approaching and Entering Frosted Turbine Generator Systems

 

Before parking near the turbine, stop approx. 350 m [1,148 feet] from the turbine and check the rotor blades for ice by means of binoculars and the sound of the rotation of the blades.  If the turbine is running and ice is present, call for a remote stop.

 

Leave the immediate vicinity of the WTG after completing your work.  Watch out for falling ice.  Get into your vehicle.  Do not call for a remote re-activation of the yaw drive and restart of the turbine until you are approximately 350 m [1,148 feet] away from the WTG.

 

Is there a double standard for employees versus residents living nearby?   WHO, exactly, is the OPSB protecting with THEIR rules??? What assumptions are made in the OPSB “probability model”?  Do they even have their own model? In other cases, the OPSB has indicated they do not have the expertise to make such calculations and they rely upon the wind developer.  We recall a dissenting opinion from Justice Stratton in the Ohio Supreme Court where she opined that, the OPSB simply required the developer to provide OPSB staff, and no one else, with the “formula” used to calculate the distance a blade could be thrown. “Since this same staff had lacked the competence to even attempt such a calculation in the first place, it is open to question what good providing such a formula would do.” And the OPSB did not require the developer or staff to share the formula with other parties, to file it in the public record, or otherwise to resubmit the issue for review, so no one else would ever be entitled to scrutinize the developer’s calculations.    This should be troubling to lawmakers and communities, alike….

 

 

Seitz letter

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BigWind ice throw damages truck, yet Ohio proposes shorter setbacks

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Here is the latest news coming out of Columbus.  Senator McColley and Representative Riedel and working hard on crafting language to add as an amendment to the wind setback bill (SB 238) proposed by Senator Dolan.  This bill as stated would change the turbine setback from 1,125′ to a property line to 1,225′ to the “nearest habitable structure”.  The property line setback would be a multiplier of the height of the turbine.  The language in the bill is 1.2X the height.  Apex is proposing 660′ turbines so that would force them to build 792′ off our property lines.  That means they could still extend roughly 800′ of unsafe space onto our ground without paying us for the loss of amenities in a worst case scenario.  Read the article below and you wonder why any legislator would put Ohioans at risk?  BigWind continues to tell us that these incidents are ‘exceedingly rare’, but we certainly seem to find a lot of fires, blade breaks etc.  Someone will be killed someday.  Will it happen in Ohio b/c Amazon is pushing for BigWind setback changes??????…..

Wind turbines at a Freeborn County wind farm were shut down this week, due to safety concerns.  A longtime American Experiment source got wind of an incident on Thursday involving a livestock truck that was struck by “ice throw” that may have come from a wind turbine at Bent Tree Wind Farm.

I got a call that a semi-truck had been damaged by ice throw from a wind turbine on Highway 13, south of Hartland.  Law enforcement was on the scene. The truck was southbound and the ice hit the driver’s side, so I guess that means it had to come from a turbine on the east side of the road.  The person who told me said there are turbines really close to the road there.

……

The incident clearly raises public safety concerns over wind turbines located within range of roads and houses, given the potential danger of being hit by ice projectiles. Our source notes the turbines were allegedly coated with ice for several days leading up to the incident.

It sounds like a slight change in timing or trajectory could have resulted in serious injury or even fatality for the truck driver.  What if this had been a small car rather than a semi-truck?

via MN Wind Turbines Shut Down Over Safety Concerns From Ice [UPDATED] – American Experiment

OPSB issues draft BigWind siting rules- the joke is on us

This past week the Ohio Power Siting Board released its industrial wind facility “Draft Rules” for comment. The OPSB release states:

The public is invited to submit comments on these rules. In an entry dated September 22, 2016, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) issued proposed rules applicable to wind‑powered electric generation facilities in amended Ohio Administrative Code 4906‑4‑08 and newly proposed 4906‑4‑09. The OPSB requests that interested persons submit formal written comments on the proposed rules by October 24, 2016 and reply comments by November 8, 2016. The entry and proposed rules are available in the online record for case number 16-1109-GE-BRO. (We have also attached the proposed rules below.)

Stakeholders may submit comments in case number 16-1109-GE-BRO via electronic filing or in hard copy to: PUCO Docketing Division, 11th Floor, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Following the conclusion of the comment and reply comment period, the OPSB will later issue final rules to be reviewed by the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review before taking effect.

Questions regarding the rulemaking may be directed to contactopsb@puco.ohio.gov.

****

Having only given the draft rules a cursory look, we cannot provide you with our detailed assessment at this time BUT we can say they appear to be a complete farce and that they fail to provide any real enforceable protection for residents and property owners. For instance, the draft rule at page 28 addresses noise at adjacent non-participating property. Everyone knows that sound from wind turbines can propagate across miles and varies depending on topography. This alone is an indicator that the rules are designed to facilitate the construction of industrial wind and nothing else. In order to make the industrial power plants seem benign, the rule actually changes the word wind “facility” to wind “farm”. Gee – will fracking sites become oil and gas farms? Anyone up for a nuclear farm?

We all remember the blade failure in Paulding County which occurred as a result of human error when an employee in some remote control center restarted a turbine that had been automatically shut down. Not to worry going forward! The new rules outlaw human error! “Bypass or override of wind turbine safety features or equipment is prohibited.” Feel better now? Not only that, the rules now require the developer to give their best guess on “probabilities” of bad things happening. If the developer doesn’t think that there is a real good chance that high winds could be dangerous, or ice throws could smash through your car window while you are driving down a road, or hit your children while playing in their yards, then Hakuna Matata! No worries!

The rules include the following provisions:

(6) High winds. The applicant shall provide an analysis of the prospects of high winds for the area, including the probability of occurrences and likely consequences of various wind velocities, and describe plans to mitigate any likely adverse consequences.

(1) The ice throw analysis shall, at a minimum, include the probability of ice throw impacts at the nearest property boundary and public road.

(3) In addition to the use of the safety measures enumerated in paragraph (E)(2) of this rule, the potential impact from ice throw shall be presumptively deemed to satisfy safety considerations if the probability of one kilogram of ice landing beyond the statutory property line setback for each turbine location is less than one per cent per year.

We invite you to consider the proposed rule on Noise below which is followed by Union Neighbors United’s January 18th noise comments filed with the OPSB. UNU’s comments were more fully described by its expert noise advisor again on June 9, 2016. Those written comments are attached. The only thing one can say about these “rules” is that once again the OPSB is attempting to provide wind developers with an “unregulated” environment under the guise of “regulation.” Regulation that protects no one is hardly regulation.

OPSB Draft Noise Rule

(2) The facility shall be operated so that the facility noise contribution does not result in noise levels at the adjacent non-participating property that exceed the project area ambient nighttime average sound level (Leq) by five A-weighted decibels (dBA). Non-participating property, for the purpose of this rule, refers to properties not under lease or agreement with the applicant regarding any components of the facility or project. During daytime operation only {seven a.m. to ten p.m.), the facility may operate at the greater of: the project area ambient nighttime Leq plus five dBA; or the validly measured ambient Leq plus five dBA at the location of the adjacent non-participating property. After commencement of commercial operation, the applicant shall conduct further review of the impact and possible mitigation of all project-related noise complaints through its complaint resolution process.

UNU Comment January 18, 2016

(a) Noise:

(i) To prevent annoyance and sleep deprivation from inherently intrusive wind turbine noise, operational noise levels of wind energy facilities should not exceed five dBA above the background sound level at nonparticipating properties. UNU Brief at 22-25. Since this proposed standard applies to nonparticipating properties, the rule should require all background noise measurements to be taken on location at nonparticipating properties wherever possible.2 For purposes of determining compliance with this standard, background noise assessments must be based on the L90 statistical standard, as universally acknowledged in the acoustical engineering profession. Id. at 30. The L90, known as the residual sound level, is the sound level exceeded during 90% of the measurement period. The L90 measures the quietest 10% of a time interval in order to identify the amount of background sound that is normally available to mask turbine noise that otherwise would awaken a person. By measuring the quietest 10% interval, the L90 statistic filters out the sporadic noise from noise events of short duration, such as passing cars.

By removing brief noise spikes, the L90 metric eliminates short-term noise spikes that serve no purpose for masking the sound of a new noise source. Id. (ii) No nonparticipating resident or landowner should be exposed to noise levels greater than 35 dBA and 50 dBC at any time. UNU Brief at 35-40, 44. (iii) The above standards should apply at the property lines of nonparticipating properties, not merely at neighboring residences. Id. at 44-45. (iv) Proposed subsection 4906-4-08(C)(3)(B) requires that the application address “cumulative operational noise levels at the property boundary for each non-participating property adjacent to or within the project area, under both day and nighttime conditions.” As the Board is well aware, wind energy developers often plan their facilities in phases, while in other cases, one developer’s facility is proposed in or near the location of another developer’s facility. In order to assess the cumulative impact of multiple facilities, it is critical that such assessment take into account impacts from other existing, proposed, or planned wind power facilities in addition to impacts from the facility that is the subject of the application. This comment applies not only to assessment of cumulative noise impacts, but also to visual impacts, shadow flicker, and othercumulative facility impacts.

Last June when the OPSB presented an earlier draft of wind rules, UNU asserted the proposed rules conflicted with the intent of legislation to protect the public and that they lacked enforceable standards. We have reprinted a portion of the news report from the Hannah Statehouse News Service from last June wherein” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Notwithstanding we recall that Senator Troy Balderson pointed out to the OPSB’s Legal Director, Angela Hawkins, that there were, in fact, deficiencies in the rules and he expects those deficiencies to be fixed in the upcoming new rulemaking process.

We will report further on these draft rules after we study them a bit more. In the meantime, be thinking about having your local elected officials join you in commenting on the rules when they are due one month from today on October 24th. For now, we think anyone who signs a wind lease, a “good neighbor agreement,” or a waiver should question whether their family, neighbors or community will ever truly be protected by OPSB rules….

The Hannah Statehouse News Service Reported the hearing as follows (emphasis added by Wind News):

Wind Farm Certification Rules Clear JCARR despite Opposition

A new rule revising the content and substance of certificate applications for electric generation facilities, including wind farms, cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on Monday.

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) rule addresses new wind turbine setback requirements set in 130-HB483…

Lawyer Christopher Walker, representing Union Neighbors United (UNU), testified in opposition to the rule saying it violates the third JCARR prong — conflicting with legislative intent.

“Today’s rule purports to contain the board’s regulations governing health and safety, land use, and ecological impacts of wind energy projects. However, this rule lacks the standards explicitly required by the General Assembly to protect the public health and public interest from the impacts of wind farm operations,” Walker said.

“Neither Rule 4906-4-08 nor the remainder of the board’s rules establish any requirements governing the reconstruction or enlargement of wind turbines, protection of recreational lands or wildlife,” Walker continued. “Furthermore, the rules contain no enforceable standards for wind facility decommissioning or for protection of the public from ice throw, wind turbine noise, blade shear, or shadow flicker. Instead, this rule, which purports to address health and safety impacts of wind energy facilities, is merely a laundry list of various information that a wind energy facility developer must submit to the board and its staff in its application.”

Walker said he was particularly concerned that the rule does not set specific standards for blade and ice throw, noting turbines can fling fragments 1,640 feet. He said the rule is “silent” on this issue.

Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) pointed out the rule requires applicants to evaluate and describe the potential impact from blade shear and ice throw at the nearest property boundary and public road and include plans to mitigate the potential effects and instruct workers of potential hazards. Walker responded by saying he meant the rule does not include enforceable standards on these issues.

Walker said several times that HB562 required “reasonable regulations” “for the protection of the public.” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Walker acknowledged the latter phrase was not included in the law….

 

Country of Poland proves that Ohio’s wind turbines setbacks are weak

 

The BigWind companies in Ohio are, chronically and constantly, arguing that our setbacks from property lines are entirely too restrictive. So restrictive, in fact, that it hampers THEIR success in our state. But, what about OUR residents?  We recently blogged about an individual in Van Wert county who has struggled (and still is) with excessive NOISE from a nearby turbine. Noise that interferes with normal life at home…and she is not alone, there are more. Who will protect our citizens against these industrial giants? Particularly, as they age, maintenance/noise/problems can plague them. BigWind IS lobbying, HARD, to convince our legislators to REDUCE the distance from turbines to our property lines. Below, is the NIH from the country of Poland, who believes that BigWind setbacks should be much GREATER than they are at this time. Ohio has been fortunate, so far, that BigWind has predominantly ‘planted’ itself in very sparsley occupied areas. If this changes, more people WILL have problems….

The National Institute of Public Health – National Institute of Hygiene is of the opinion that wind farms situated too close to buildings intended for permanent human occupation may have a negative impact on the well-being and health of the people living in their proximity.

The human health risk factors that the Institute has taken into consideration in its position are as follows:

the emitted noise level and its dependence on the technical specifications of turbines, wind speed as well as the topography and land use around the wind farm,
aerodynamic noise level including infrasound emissions and low-frequency noise components,
the nature of the noise emitted, taking into account its modulation/impulsive/tonal characteristics and the possibility of interference of waves emitted from multiple turbines,
the risk of ice being flung from rotors,
the risk of turbine failure with a rotor blade or its part falling,
the shadow flicker effect…

the probability of sleep disruptions and noise propagation at night,
the level of nuisance and probability of stress and depression symptoms occurring (in consequence of long exposure), related both to noise emissions and to non-acceptance of the noise source.
In the Institute’s opinion, the laws and regulations currently in force in Poland (regarding risk factors which, in practice, include only the noise level) are not only inadequate to facilities such noise source as wind turbines, but they also fail to guarantee a sufficient degree of public health protection. The methodology currently used for environmental impact assessment of wind farms (including human health) is not applicable to wind speeds exceeding 5 m/s. In addition, it does not take into account the full frequency range (in particular, low frequency) and the nuisance level….

Having regard to the above, until a comprehensive methodology is developed for the assessment of the impact of industrial wind farms on human health, the Institute recommends 2 km as the minimum distance of wind farms from buildings. The recommended value results from a critical assessment of research results published in reviewed scientific periodicals with regard to all potential risk factors for average distance usually specified within the following limits:

0.5-0.7 km, often obtained as a result of calculations, where the noise level (dBA) meets the currently acceptable values (without taking into account adjustments for the impulse/tonal/modulation features of the nose emitted),
1.5-3.0 km, resulting from the noise level, taking into account modulation, low frequencies and infrasound levels,
0.5-1.4 km, related to the risk of turbine failure with a broken rotor blade or its part falling (depending on the size of the piece and its flight profile, rotor speed and turbine type),
0.5-0.8 km, where there is a risk of ice being flung from rotors (depending on the shape and mass of ice, rotor speed and turbine type),
1.0-1.6 km, taking into account the noise nuisance level (between 4% and 35% of the population at 30-45 dBA) for people living in the vicinity of wind farms,
the distance of 1.4-2.5 km, related to the probability of sleep disruptions (on average, between 4% and 5% of the population at 30-45 dBA),
2,0 km, related to the occurrence of potential psychological effects resulting from substantial landscape changes (based on the case where the wind turbine is a dominant landscape feature and the rotor movement is clearly visible and noticeable to people from any location),
1.2-2.1 km, for the shadow flicker effect (for the average wind turbine height in Poland, including the rotor from 120 to 210 m).
In its opinions. the Institute has also considered the recommended distances of wind farms from buildings, as specified by experts, scientists, as well as central and local government bodies around the world (in most cases recommended from 1.0 to 5.0 km)….

BigWind Setbacks: Safety First unless youre a wind developer

Does BigWind really care about YOUR safety? What about the safety of the farmer or kids on snowmobiles?

Last month, Ohio infuriated wind proponents by passing Senate bill 310, a bill that delays the states renewable electricity standard for two years and eliminates the requirement that half of the renewables mandate be met with in-state resources.

Within days of SB310 passing, Ohio Governor John Kasich approved a change to the safety setback distances for wind turbines. Under the new law, setbacks will now be measured at the property line of the nearest adjacent property as opposed to the wall of a nearby home. In practice, this will require minimum distances of at least 1,300 feet from property lines to each turbine base.

Wind developers and Ohios media cried foul over due process claiming the legislature gave no warning of the setback rule change or opportunity for testimony. They insisted the provision was anti-wind driven by coal and oil interests intent on destroying the economics of large-scale wind and called on the governor to veto the change.

Industry Setback Recommendations

For decades, the wind industry has advanced the notion that these massive spinning structures can safely be erected a few hundred feet from where people live and gather.

The industry’s preferred setback has been 1.1x to 1.5x the height of the tower (including the blade) which was derived from the fall-zone of the tower. We saw variations on this over the years beginning in California, that measured as much as 3-4x the total tower height. In general, there was no consideration in the setback distances for noise nor did the 1.1 to 1.5x setback adequately address ice/blade throw….

However, according to Iberdrola’s Emergency Plan written for Groton Wind employees and released this year, “shedding ice may be thrown a significant distance as a result of the rotor spinning or wind blowing the ice fragments.”

GE Wind states that rotating turbine blades may propel ice fragments up to several hundred meters if conditions are right depending on turbine dimensions, rotational speed and many other potential factors….

One operator of a wind installation admitted large turbines will throw a four hundred pound chunk of ice one thousand feet.

In the last 5-6 years, communities have adopted setbacks at or greater than the distance codified under Ohio law. More modern ordinances include two setback protections. The first protects property owners from ice/debris flying off the turbines. This ranges from 1300 feet to 1 mile or more away. The second setback distance is implied based on noise limits that cannot be exceeded either at the property line or the wall of an occupied building. If the noise standards are correctly applied, turbines may be erected 1.25-1.5 (or more) miles from the property line/building.

According to Mr. Palmer, the goal of public safety risk assessment is to ensure that we do not impose risks on unsuspecting members of the public. We agree!

via WindAction | Wind Setbacks: Safety First unless youre a wind developer.

How much energy is required to DEice a turbine blade?

Does anyone else wonder what the answer is to this question? It is very difficult to find the answer to how much energy wind energy turbines actually USE to operate (lights,start spinning,put on brakes,yaw)….

The Vestas De-icing System VDS has been developed to detect and remove ice formed on wind turbine blades, maintaining full power production through the winter months.The company mentioned that severe icing can potentially reduce wind turbines’ annual energy production by more than 20%. Vestas explained that the VDS is an active de-icing solution consisting of an ice detection system and a hot air flow unit within the blades. The hot air flow targets the blade’s most critical parts to efficiently melt ice build-up, with no negative impact on the noise level or overall performance of the turbine.

via Weekly Intelligence Brief: October 21 – 28 | Wind Energy Update.