Ohio legislators answer BigWind questions with MidWest electric

Wind was on the front page news in the Springfield paper, yesterday, but they left out any mention of Everpower being for sale.  The piece looks like more of a PR attempt to perhaps convince someone that EverPower projects are edging closer to reality.  We are not so sure.    

The more interesting and substantive stories come from the Statehouse and from Sidney.    As the Mandates Study Committee continues to grapple with federal Clean Power Plan issues, some members are concerned about the impacts of a renewable standard.  “…some members, like Rep. Roegner, would like to see the two-year freeze extended beyond 2017, when its set to resume under last year’s energy bill (SB310, 130th General Assembly). “I would not object to that proposal – to extend it temporarily or even more permanently. But I’m not going to say at this point that that is indeed my commendation,” she said. “But I think that should be considered, especially considering the uncertainty around this 111(d) ruling,” she said about the U.S. EPA’s carbon pollution rules, which are expected to be finalized in late summer. Rep. Roegner recalled that Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler told the study committee that there were too many unanswered questions about the draft rules to determine whether or not the state’s alternative energy portfolio would help the state comply.”   

Meanwhile, the Sidney area electrical co-op, Midwest Electric held a breakfast meeting and invited Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, 12th District; Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, 1st District; Rep. Bob Cupp, Lima, 4th District; Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, 84th District; and Rep. Tony Burkley, R-Payne, 82nd District to discuss a number of issues including energy.  Sen. Faber expressed concern about the extra cost to consumers for alternative energy.  Rep. Burkely surprised us by saying that while farmers in Van Wert and Paulding County may benefit from wind, the rest of the state does not.   None of the legislators want to act until more is known about the federal Clean Power Plan and the litigation that will be filed by many states.

 

We can safely say there is much going on surrounding the energy debate in Ohio….

What about? — wind, water and education. Those were the questions asked to five of Ohio’s elected officials during the Midwest Electric’s annual ACRE (Action Committee for Rural Electrification) Day for cooperative members and employees Monday morning.

Present for the breakfast were Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, 12th District; Sen. Cliff Hite, R-Findlay, 1st District; Rep. Bob Cupp, Lima, 4th District; Rep. Jim Buchy, R-Greenville, 84th District; and Rep. Tony Burkley, R-Payne, 82nd District; along with Marc Armstrong, director of government affairs for Buckeye Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives Inc.

When an audience member asked if wind and solar power in Ohio had failed to live up to its mandates of providing alternate energy sources, Faber said that answer remains to be seen.

“They created a goal for public utilities and trusted it would happen,” said Faber. “During the next couple of weeks, we will be receiving a report that tells how science and technology will create diversity in energy sources.”

Faber said no one knew what the costs would be for wind energy.

“Cooperatives (such as Midwest) uses alternatives which make sense,” said Faber. “Their customers spend $5 to $10 each month to be in compliance with the mandates.”

Faber said he doesn’t want to see customers paying excess amounts each month to meet the mandates.

“We’re trying to get a handle on it,” said Faber….

“Van Wert County is the ‘Wind Capital of Ohio.’” said Burkley whose district includes Van Wert and parts of Auglaize counties. “The people have benefited from Paulding and Van Wert wind power, but at what expense? The farmers have benefited from their property being used.”

He said the companies installing the windmills have taken advantage of the subsidies offered for the program. But, he added, it hasn’t benefited the entire state of Ohio….

Legislators answer wind, water, education questions Midwest Electric holds annual ACRE Day – Sidney Daily News – sidneydailynews.com.

and Statehouse News:

Decision Whether To Extend Clean Energy Freeze Hinges On Federal Carbon Rules

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Are wind developers part of your ‘public’ at county commissioner meetings?

This week Everpower spoke on the record to the Springfield News Sun about their future plans.   Everpower spokesman, Michael Speerscheider, had this to say:

 “ It’s still too early to say whether the legislation will mean the end of the Buckeye wind farm,” said Michael Speerschneider, a spokesman for Everpower. The project is in jeopardy because the state legislation will freeze current mandates for renewable energy, he said, making it harder to find a buyer for the electricity produced by the turbines. Everpower doesn’t have a timeline for when it will decide whether to move ahead or kill the projects. “It’s very early,” Speerschneider said. “We’re still trying to figure out what it all means and if we can work through it. It could very well be something that leads to having a lot more difficulty in completing the projects.”

 

The American Wind Energy Association (“AWEA”) stated they plan to be actively engaged in the process of the new legislative Study Committee and their spokesman states “We’d say it starts a two-year debate and we plan to win the debate,” Kelley said. “I don’t think we can afford to wait two years.”

Meanwhile, Senator Keith Faber  states in the article that: “The renewable mandates might make sense, he said, but the state needs to determine whether the wind farms are a good investment for consumers.

“They’re getting multiple subsidies,” Faber said of the wind farms. “The question is when is enough enough and when should they be viable.”

This is the first time we have heard Senator Faber express concern about the subsidies that federal and Ohio taxpayers and ratepayers have paid out to support wind development.  Under current law, renewable energy is eligible to seek local tax abatement of the public utility personal property tax for projects where construction begins prior to January 1, 2019.  But we believe the mandate is also a form of subsidy so it is difficult to understand exactly what Senator Faber means.   On more than one occasion, Everpower has expressed concern over whether they could go forward without the federal Production Tax credit, or whether failure to be granted PILOT payments would make the project infeasible.  Those two issues didn’t come up in the context of today’s story even though the PTC is currently expired and Everpower has yet to make application for PILOT in Champaign County.   

In the meantime, Everpower’s local team of Jason Dagger and Michael Pullins were busy advising the Champaign County Commissioners on local economic development.  In a public hearing to which only four members of the public went, Dagger and Pullins comprised ½ of the “public”.  They opined as follows:

“Buckeye Wind Farm Project Manager Jason Dagger said this was a tremendous asset to move money back toward economic development.  “I would encourage you to move more (money) towards economic development if there’s ever the possibility to do that because I think that is a driver for this county,” Dagger said. “We need to see groundbreakings in general. Whether they’re renewable energy or general businesses that need to expand in the community, we need to see folks out there attracting them in here and showing the assets that we have.”  EverPower Consultant Mike Pullins suggested the county should partner with surrounding counties to leverage resources toward economic development.”

Could they be working on warming up the Commission for their plea for tax abatement as a “driver” for their debatable economic development?   Is wind development really a positive for a economic development? See our next blogs and decide for yourself…

Everpower Renewables has spent as much as $10 million in Ohio to get a trio of wind projects ready for construction, including in Champaign County, but two recently signed laws are making the firm reconsider if their investment is still worth the effort….

via Long fight over wind turbines, energy laws | Springfield, OH News | www.springfieldnewssun.com.

Citizens applaud Ohio Senate for increased BigWind setbacks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 22, 2014 Contact: Kevon Martis, Executive Director Interstate Concerned Citizens Coalition (517) 403-2438

Citizens Hail Action by Ohio Senate to Correct Predatory Wind Turbine Setback Law Measure Sustains Wind Project Possibilities

Citizens of northern and western Ohio applauded action by the Ohio Senate to help protect property rights and values of homes in areas targeted for wind development. Current setbacks for industrial wind turbines, which reach up to 500 feet in height, were established by the Strickland Administration to be measured from the foundations of the homes of neighboring property owners. Senator Keith Faber, whose district is heavily impacted by wind development efforts, has recognized that effects of industrial wind turbines on neighboring property can devalue those properties, create health and safety hazards for the inhabitants, and render some virtually unsalable.

“We applaud the movement of turbine setback from homes to property lines, but remain baffled that the safety perimeter remains at 1,125’ plus one blade length (roughly 1,300’), while documentation from the safety manuals of turbine manufacturers Vestas and Nordex both recommend employees remain at least 1,640 ft. from turbines under some circumstances. That’s more than a football field further away than the new provision requiress.”

Wind developers are private for-profit businesses that should be required to negotiate easements and compensate neighboring properties for intrusion. Homeowners have a right to the peaceful enjoyment of their home,” said Kevon Martis, Executive Director of Interstate Concerned Citizens Coalition on behalf of the residents of northwest Ohio. “Senator Faber respects the rights of homeowners and nothing in this wind turbine setback will prevent a developer from pursuing a wind development. It does, however, restore the balance of power between ordinary people and powerful well-heeled developers.”

In a response from the American Wind Industry Association, they claim that respect for property rights and protection of rural home values will somehow destroy the wind industry. Such claims are exaggerated. AWEA regularly states that there are no adverse impacts on nearby property values and that the reports of negative health effects are not credible. If AWEA’s claims are true, there should be no problem negotiating affordable easements with neighboring property owners rather than simply taking property rights with no permission and no compensation.

“It is alarming the wind industry is publically balk at measures to protect Ohio homeowners.” remarked Mr. Martis. “Is this industry so greedy as to publically admit they wish to put Ohio rural citizens at risk?”

All across Ohio, rural citizens are cheering the leadership of Senator Keith Faber and his willingness to step forward, yet still puzzled that the industry’s own safety standards are stricter.