BigWind tries to ‘huff and puff’ Ohio House down

As the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee gears up for its first hearing on HB 6, the opposition is flooding the print media with articles and opinion pieces that argue against the provisions of the bill, advocate for closing the nuclear plants and reducing wind turbine setbacks.   An assortment of articles is provided below. 

In a disgusting turn of events, the Icebreaker Wind developer, LEEDCo, is asking senators for a portion of the funding that would be made available through HB 6.  Democrats have proposed numerous changes to HB 6 including an Icebreaker subsidy.  Recall that Icebreaker is a pilot project designed as a test to see if putting 1,500 wind turbines in Lake Erie is feasible.   They don’t seem to care that it would be in the middle of the world’s third most important migratory flyway.  Senator Sandra Williams was quoted as saying LEEDCo  wants an earmark of 10₵ for every dollar raised in the Clean Air Program.  They are shameless enough to not even pretend that their subsidy would be based on the amount of power they produce.

“LEEDCo leadership is meeting with senators to discuss the importance of Ohio being the first location in North America to build a freshwater offshore wind facility,” spokeswoman Nancy Lesic said. “Our goal is for leadership in Columbus to recognize the economic significance of this project and provide the necessary support to allow us to access federal and international investments.”

One definition of being “green” is to pursue policies and actions that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment.  Being green means having the smallest ecological footprint.  This is achieved in energy generation by utilizing resources that have energy density.  Generation sources that are not dense are called “dilute” .  Wind and solar are dilute.   Jim Feasel does a density calculation and determines that 33.65 of Ohio’s 88 counties would be covered with 600 foot tall turbines (9.99 million acres) if you replaced current generation with wind.  That is not GREEN.

Elsewhere, 

  • We also encourage you to read Michael Shellenberger’s article on solar energy called, If Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?   It is reported, “The fact that cadmium can be washed out of solar modules by rainwater is increasingly a concern for local environmentalists like the Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake in Virginia, where a 6,350 acre solar farm to partly power Microsoft data centers is being proposed.
  • “We estimate there are 100,000 pounds of cadmium contained in the 1.8 million panels,” Sean Fogarty of the group told me. “Leaching from broken panels damaged during natural events — hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. — and at decommissioning is a big concern.”  There is real-world precedent for this concern. A tornado in 2015 broke 200,000 solar modules at southern California solar farm Desert Sunlight.
  • How ironic that just as the dirty truth about solar panels is being exposed, the Governor Michigan in a moment of true lunacy, removed conservation protections on more than 3 million acres of Michigan farmland, opening up previously protected land to commercial solar development. The Governor says the land must be returned to a state allowing for agriculture production after solar panels are removed.  “This administrative decision will not result in a loss of usable farmland,” McDowell said. “The change ensures that Michigan’s farmland is preserved so we can continue to feed our communities while also balancing the need to develop renewable energy sources.”   Would you like a little cadmium with your corn?  Reminds us of the lead in the drinking water.
  • A lady from suburban Cincinnati writes an Opinion piece about wanting to come home to Ohio to build wind turbines.  Kim Smith is vice president of Engineering & Construction for ACCIONA.  “As the Ohio Senate considers this energy policy proposal, my hope is that they’ll to listen to local county officials who are hoping for the added revenue that utility scale renewable energy projects can deliver, and that they hear the landowners who have already reached agreements with developers to bring projects to their land.”  This opinion piece definitely deserves some comments!  Ask her what Acciona’s position is on local zoning or a township referendum.
  • Governor Strickland wins the Pelosi-Schumer Award for excessive whining about HB 6.  It was Strickland who took our right to zoning away and gave uncompensated easements over our land to wind developers.  Hey, Governor Strickland remember the one about pigs get fed and hogs get slaughtered?
  • The US Department of Energy officials attended a conference this week in Salt Lake City where they said they are committed to making fossil fuels cleaner rather than imposing “draconian” regulations on coal and oil.  Secretary Rick Perry previously said the administration wants to spend $500 million next year on fossil fuel research and development as demand plummets for coal and surges for natural gas.  “Instead of punishing fuels that produce emissions through regulation, we’re seeking to reduce those emissions by innovation,” Perry said at the conference.   DOE believes the US economy will continue to run on baseload power provided by coal, gas and nuclear energy.
  • Consulting firm Wood Mackenzie reported that “well over half of the $15bn the onshore wind industry will spend on operations and maintenance (O&M) this year will go to unforeseen repairs and correctives caused by component failures. Unplanned failures are currently costing as much as $30,000 per turbine each year for repairs and spare parts, as well as leading to an average seven hours of lost production per machine – not including downtime for pre-emptive shutdowns or long delivery-times for materials, equipment and technician call-outs, all totting up to a total $8.5bn a year.”
  • G.E. is having a hard time with tower collapse.  Two went down in separate incidents which were said to be isolated events.  BUT! Any third turbine collapse involving a GE machine in quick succession should set alarm bells ringing at the manufacturer, given the rarity of such incidents globally, said a leading insurer of renewable energy projects.  Fraser McLachlan, CEO of specialist insurer GCube, said the two collapses so far this year of GE turbines at US wind farms is already enough to give pause for thought.

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/Keku1CJEOlk/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dispatch.com%2Fopinion%2F20190609%2Fletter-city-dwellers-wouldnt-tolerate-wind-turbines

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/story/201906060037

https://www.ohio.com/opinion/20190608/beacon-journalohiocom-editorial-board-state-sen-wilsons-nuclear-option

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/Kl4joOY_Zgo/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vindy.com%2Fnews%2F2019%2Fjun%2F10%2Fohio-energy-bill-becomes-prize-for-speci%2F

https://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2019/06/10/opinion-closing-door-renewable-energy-bad-news-rural-ohio/1327550001/

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/S5AoDIB6OBk/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.toledoblade.com%2Flocal%2Fenvironment%2F2019%2F06%2F09%2Fformer-governor-ted-strickland-frustrated-to-see-ohio-dumping-renewable-energy-goals%2Fstories%2F20190606150

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/evhllDisNVw/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eenews.net%2Fenergywire%2F2019%2F06%2F04%2Fstories%2F1060472835

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/nntzNvnJvoE/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fmichaelshellenberger%2F2018%2F05%2F23%2Fif-solar-panels-are-so-clean-why-do-they-produce-so-much-toxic-waste%2F%23d490f8d121cc

https://deref-mail.com/mail/client/mfOgYgXCAcQ/dereferrer/?redirectUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.power-eng.com%2Farticles%2F2019%2F05%2Fdoe-making-fossil-fuels-cleaner-better-than-penalizing-coal-oil.html%3Fcmpid%3D%26utm_source%3Denl%26utm_medium%3Demail%26utm_campaign%3Dpower_engineering_e-newsletter%26utm_content%3D2019-06-04%26eid%3D326852857%26bid%3D2458527

Third GE wind turbine collapse would be sign something’s wrong’: insurer

CEO of insurance specialist points to relative rarity of collapses as US wind group continues probe

By Andrew Lee  03 June 2019 Recharge

RECHARGE

US wind turbine collapses ‘not linked’, says GE

Incidents ‘separate and isolated’ says OEM as latest academic research flags complex factors at play

by Andrew Lee 31 May 2019Updated 03 June 2019

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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!**

 

15 reasons to kick BigWind away from Lake Erie

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15 Reasons to Reject Wind Turbines in Lake Erie

 

·         Special financial treatment for the wind industry, along with Ohio’s mandate that renewable energy be included in utility companies energy mix, have artificially propped up LEEDCo. It has received $50 million in taxpayer subsidies.

o   “(We) get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reasons to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit” – Warren Buffett

 

·         Contrary to LEEDCo’s statements, wind energy is high cost electricity because turbines spin only when the wind blows, roughly 35 percent of the time. Sixty-five percent of the time they are non-productive.

o   Hidden costs come from base load back-up fossil fuel systems that must remain on standby to fill the gaps. Base load systems are designed to run continually, not to be taken offline and restarted to fill in for intermittent wind energy making them more expensive to operate, too.

 

·         Environmentally, turbines destroy hundreds of thousands of bats and birds annually, including protected bald eagles and golden eagles. LEEDCo turbines in Lake Erie will violate the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

o   A study of one northern California wind farm found it kills about 60 eagles and 2500 other raptors annually . . . The Tennessee Wildlife Federation reported that in just two months the Backbone Mountain wind farm sliced apart 2,000 bats . . . PacifiCorp Energy’s paid a $2.5 million fine for violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act by killing 38 golden eagles and 336 other protected birds at its wind farms. . Duke Energy paid a $1 million fine for killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at its Wyoming wind farm, and more.

·         Wind turbines will spoil the pristine natural horizon of Lake Erie. Cape Wind, which planned to build turbines off Massachusetts, was cancelled after 14-years of planning due to broad public opposition, including lawsuits claiming the project would harm property values, tourism and fishing.

 

o   Lake Erie, once called a “dead lake”, is now a thriving fishery, source of drinking water, and home to countless waterfowl especially the comeback of bald Eagles along the shoreline. It is an internationally important migration route. The BSBO, American Bird Conservancy & National Audubon Society believe that by insisting that LEEDCO completes bird & bat studies through the right process and the right science, it will prove that turbines shouldn’t be built in Lake Erie.

 

·         Icebreaker is a serious environmental threat to Lake Erie and the drinking water it supplies. First, the turbines are certain to stir up and release toxins during their construction and thereafter.

 

o   For decades, multiple toxins, including PCBs, dioxin, mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic were filtering into Lake Erie and now rest in the lake bottom sediment. Moreover, the Army Corps of Engineers dumped toxic sediment from the Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie for decades. There is an unacceptable risk of stirred up toxic sediments while installing LEEDCo turbines and 12-plus miles of cables. There is also legitimate concern over what else could be stirred up from Cleveland’s heavy industrial past when the lake bottom is disturbed.

 

·         Wind turbines contain 400-plus gallons of industrial lubricants in their gearboxes. Those lubricants need to be changed and gearbox seals fail sending oil into the lake below. Even worse, exploding and burning wind turbines are commonplace. When this occurs, burning turbines will create toxic emissions polluting the lake below.

 

o   Research shows about 120 wind turbines catch fire each year – ten times the number reported by the industry. Fires are a problem for the industry, impacting energy production, economic output and emitting toxins, casting a dark shadow over the industry’s “green” credentials. Wind turbines catch fire because highly flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastics are in close proximity to machinery and electrical wires. Winds will quickly fan the fire.

o   To see turbines explode, just go to YouTube and search: “wind turbine fires”

 

·         LEEDCo is set to sell the turbines to Fred. Olsen Renewables (a Norwegian multi-national). Olsen will then sell the electricity from Icebreaker to Cleveland Public Power, Cuyahoga County and others who have prematurely agreed to buy at a rate that’s certain to be much higher than other available sources.

 

o   The cost to construct and maintain an offshore turbine is 3 to 4 times higher than an onshore installation, and Ohio ratepayers will ultimately be stuck with the bills. Icebreaker is projected to cost a total of $126 million to construct, resulting in capacity of 20.7 MWh. For comparison, the “Steel Winds” onshore project near Buffalo cost about 75% less and generates more power capacity. Imagine changing out the lubricants or replacing a gear or blade in high waves or during the winter. They will produce no power until spring at the earliest.

 

 

·         LEEDCo admits Icebreaker is the “demonstrator” project leading to Olsen building as many as 1,400 to 1,600 more turbines in Lake Erie (and likely other Great Lakes) and that will threaten the Ohio’s tourism success and reduce property values.

 

o   A view of 479-foot spinning industrial blades runs contrary to the views many seek for their vacations. A study by North Carolina State University documented over 50 percent of vacationers would not rent a vacation home if wind turbines were in view. The other half would insist on a discounted rate to compensate for the lost view. Moreover, home buyers pay a premium for location and view. But property values have been shown to decrease where views are diminished by wind farms. That triggers a reduction in property tax revenues.

 

·         LEEDCo’s contention that there is widespread approval for Icebreaker is refuted by a Cleveland Plain Dealer study that showed 57.87 percent of those surveyed disapproved of Icebreaker, and many more had no opinion.

 

·         LEEDCo’s inference that some 400 public meetings it says it has held shows approval is simply unsupportable.  Holding a meeting does not confirm approval, and may, in fact, demonstrate the opposite. Evidence is clear the general public has not been made aware of the costs or dangers inherent on Icebreaker.

 

o   For example, LEEDCo’s recent meeting at Cleveland Yacht Club was one where the audience raised many of these questions and LEEDCo’s CEO Lorry Wagner couldn’t answer or rebut major questions.  As a result, the audience came out in clear opposition to Icebreaker/LEEDCO/Fred. Olsen’s project.

·         LEEDCo’s claim that Icebreaker will result in many good jobs is nothing more than fantasy.

o   The US’s first offshore project of five expensive turbines at off Block Island created a few hundred temporary construction jobs and only about six permanent ones – these at a cost of $290 million! In addition, Block Island cost about $150,000 per powered household, a monumental waste and a factual argument against offshore wind value.

 

.   Decommissioning and Disposal issues are additional threats to Lake Erie waters.

 

o   The useful life of a turbine is less than 20 years. They must then be decommissioned and removed. In California, for example, there are thousands of industrial wind turbines that have been abandoned and are falling apart. LEEDCo has no plan to address such an issue. Moreover, if the “demonstrator” project fails to exhibit its effectiveness as a reliable supplier of electricity (as is widely predicted), LEEDCo will be long gone leaving no plans to remove them. Indeed, many of the wind farms built in Europe 20 years ago will lose their government subsidies in 2020 and there are no funds or provisions to remove dead turbines.

 

.   There will be a need for “No Boating” security zones to protect the wind farms just like existing security zones around power plants and similar infrastucture. But these new bans on boating and fishing access will encompass dramatically larger wind farm areas, potentially eliminating hundreds of square miles for recreational boating and fishing.

 

o   In addition, Icebreaker’s power cables will be on the floor of the lake, crossing Cleveland’s main shipping channel. If more turbines are eventually built in the lake, freighters dropping their anchors may run the risk of striking the cable areas in the same way dragging anchors are known to hit underwater oil pipelines elsewhere.

.    A recommendation by the OPSB staff to eliminate overnight operations from March 1 to Jan. 1 unless it can prove to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the OPSB that Icebreaker’s the six turbines don’t kill migrating birds and bats is ludicrous.

o   The recommended 2-year radar study of migrating birds must be mandatory, not optional, and results required to be made public at least annually. While the accuracy of such a radar study is questionable given the size of small birds, etc., this and other science-based studies should be required. Up until now, extremely poor studies are being conducted, and the conclusions they reach are not based on sound science. For example, they’ve concluded there were no birds. But they were looking at a time when birds were not moving!

Conclusion:

The Ohio Power Siting Board’s mission is defined as supporting: “sound energy policies that provide for the installation of energy capacity and transmission infrastructure for the benefit of the Ohio citizens, promoting the state’s economic interests, and protecting the environment and land use.”

Going green is fine, but not appropriate in every circumstance or in every locale. In certain places, harnessing the wind just carries an unacceptable environmental risk and unjustifiable price tag. In the case of Icebreaker, the OPSB, ODNR and OEPA must meet their charge to protect the environment and Ohio’s most treasured natural resource, Lake Erie.

Rick Graham