BigWind ‘kicked to the curb’ in Nebraska

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 4.19.58 PM

Yet, another example, of a BigWind setback being EXPANDED….well beyond Ohio. But you would never hear of this if you only listened to the BigWind lobbyists in Ohio, where the industry cries that our setback hinders their growth….that our setback is too restrictive…that there is no danger or problem with having 600 foot industrial wind turbines as neighbors.  Read below, and you will see that Nebraska has become wise. Setbacks have been expanded to 2,700 feet and banned in another. Congrats!…

Wind turbines will not be dotting the Stanton County landscape anytime soon.

The Stanton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously today to approve a land use matrix that did not allow for wind developers to purchase conditional use permits – effectively preventing any wind farms from attempting to build in Stanton County…

 

The Board also passed regulations extending the setback requirements for a windmill to 2,700 feet and capping the potential noise generated at 50 decibels. These requirements would only matter if the Board retracted the ban on wind permits in the future…

 

via Stanton County Bars Wind Development Sandhills Express

Advertisements

Ohio Power Siting Board says YES to BigWind’s ‘Top Secret’ information (again)

The Ohio Power Siting Board approved a request in the Buckeye Wind case from turbine maker Gamesa to extend the protective order which keeps noise and safety information secret.  In 2013 Gamesa was granted a protective order for 18 months,  On June 1, 2015, the OPSB granted an additional 24months of secrecy until June 1, 2017.    But on May 30thGamesa filed for yet another 24 months of protection from public view.  This request was  granted with the OPSB Order stating:

 

{¶ 12} Ohio Adm.Code 4906-7-07(H)(6) requires a party wishing to extend a protective order beyond 24 months to file an appropriate motion in advance of the expiration date, including a detailed discussion of the need for continued protection from disclosure. If Gamesa wishes to extend this confidential treatment, it should file an appropriate motion at least 45 days in advance of the expiration date. If no such motion to extend confidential treatment is filed, the Board may release this information without prior notice to Gamesa.

 

So mark your calendar for June 2019 to see if the Gamesa noise information is made public.  But in the meantime, Google Gamesa and noise complaints.  Maybe there is a reason they do not want us to see their manual….

New wind farms with a capacity of 5 or more megawatts must obtain a siting certificate through the Ohio Power Siting Board. This unique siting process is made possible in Ohio because all seven entities involved with approving the siting application are seated at the same table: the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, the directors of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Development Services Agency, the Ohio Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources, and a public member….

 

Source: Wind and other Renewable Energy – OPSB

http://www.anthonycreditexpert.com

Yet another state looks to INcrease BigWind setbacks, but not Ohio!?

Ohio Senator Cliff Hite is proposing to SHORTEN the Ohio BigWind setback that is currently established at 1,125 feet from a property line. What is the purpose of a setback? To protect citizens and property.  Senator Cliff Hite is one of the biggest BigWind supporters that we know.  We think it is time for him to retire from the legislature and get a job with BigWind. Why not, if he chooses to protect THEM over US? Just look below for another area, experienced with BigWind, that tells them to ‘back off’!…

CANTON, S.D. – It was a tough night for a company that wants to build a wind farm in Lincoln County.

County commissioners approved some zoning changes….

 

Dakota Power wanted a top noise limit of 65 decibels, but commissioners set the limit at 45 decibels….

Commissioners also discussed a second zoning change.

This one dealt with the setback distance, which is how far the turbines have to be from public roads and homes.

The current distance is 1,320 ft., or three times the height of the turbine.

The Planning Commission recommended increasing it to 5,200 ft., or one mile.

The county commissioners said this decision is the toughest they’ll have to make, since it could determine whether or not Canton and surrounding cities could grow in the future.

They decided to table it for now, so they can look into more research on the topic…

Source: Lincoln County Increases Restrictions For Wind Turbines – KDLT

Irish people win lawsuit against BigWind, why won’t Ohio protect its’ citizens?

There was BIG real news coming out of Ireland this week where seven families won a case against the manufacturer of wind turbines. “…The case will return to the High Court in 2017 to discuss punitive damages. Promises in Government over the last four years to introduce planning regulations regarding wind turbines have failed to materialise. According to outdated guidelines, turbines may be built 500m (1,640 ft.) from homes. In many cases, including this, wind turbines have been built closer than 500m. A spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland said: “There now is a possibility for multiple legal actions against wind farms right around the country.”

We see a number of parallels between Ireland and the U.S. Chief among them is government foot dragging on establishing protective regulations for siting wind turbines as well as government’s failure to update inadequate regulations in the face of massively larger industrial wind turbines that are continuing to increase in height and blade length. We would add, also, the failure of the OPSB to hold hearings on amended applications is relevant. Important to this story also seems to be the culpability of the manufacturer who leaves siting decisions to developers. The recent removal from public view of Vestas’ recommendation for minimum setbacks of 1,300’ (suggested years ago when turbines were smaller) seems to have been an accommodation to developers and folks like Senator Cliff Hite and the wind lobby who seek to jam wind developments into unsuitable locations in their quest for $$$$$.

Ireland’s outdated and inadequate siting regulations were revised in 2013 but never took effect. The revisions “set more stringent levels, including a mandatory minimum setback of 500 metres, noise limits, and the complete elimination of “shadow flicker” for nearby dwellings. “When Alan Kelly became minister in 2014, he initiated a further review, with suggestions that he was going to increase the setback distance to 1km or more.” This suggested guideline was never published because the government’s term expired. New regulations were set to be issued before the end of 2016 but this will not happen because the EU Court has now required further public input to be gathered. Wind News readers have “been to this movie” before. We hope the punitive damages awarded early next year as a result of the Enercon case will be hefty and that the public input process is concluded. The wind industry is surely the cause of further delay. Sounds oh so familiar.

In Vermont hearings concerning acceptable noise limits have been ongoing. The wind industry experts maintain that noise levels emitted from industrial turbines at 46 dBA or less — as measured from outside a home — should be an acceptable standard for current and future turbine projects. The community’s expert was nationally recognized acoustician Stephen Ambrose who argued that “the dBA limit should be set in the low-30s, and added that a 45 dBA limit is only acceptable for urban environments with other sources of background noise. In a rural setting, where ambient noise levels are lower, Ambrose said complaints typically start at 30 dBA. If levels hit 40 dBA, local residents start opposing projects. At 45 dBA, residents begin abandoning their homes.”…

A number of families in Co Cork who claim they were forced to leave their homes because of noise from a nearby wind farm have won a significant case in the High Court this week.

The families claim they have been severely impacted by noise since the wind farm began operating in 2011.

This is the first action of its kind in Ireland….

The case will return to the High Court in 2017 to discuss damages.

Promises in Government over the last four years to introduce planning regulations regarding wind turbines have failed to materialise.

According to the guidelines currently in operation, turbines may be built 500m from homes. Opponents say that in many cases wind turbines have been built closer than 500m.

A spokesperson for Wind Aware Ireland said: “There now is a possibility for multiple legal actions against wind farms right around the country….

Source: Families claim victory in wind-farm noise court case

Ohio BigWind News and cries to allow them closer to our homes

marec-comments

Oh my, where to start? Comments on the Ohio Power Siting Board’s proposed rules have been submitted and are posted on the OPSB website at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109.

Terrence O’Donnell, son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell, filed two comment letters. One is filed as counsel for the LeedCo Icebreaker project in Lake Erie and the other is on behalf of MAREC (Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition). Not surprisingly the comments are full of threats that the proposed rules are so restrictive as to prohibit the development of wind in Ohio. Repeatedly, this cry rises no matter whether the topic is ice throw, shadow flicker, noise, decommissioning, whatever. At one low point, MAREC insists that the word “noise” be eliminated due to its negative connotations and replaced by a more neutral term like…”sound”. Gee, we wonder what the folks at INCE (Institute for NOISE Control Engineering) , the professional association for “noise” would think of that? Sort of like calling 600’ foot tall wind power plant arrays “farms”.

Consider: MAREC requests that throughout the rules the term “noise” be eliminated and replaced with the term “sound.” “Noise” has a negative connotation that indicates loud, harsh, or disturbing sound. It would be more appropriate to use a descriptive term that is not pejorative. The term “sound” more correctly denotes what is being measured in accordance with the wind farm requirements in new Rule 09. As explained in greater detail below, it is crucial for the wind industry in Ohio that the sound level be measured at an appropriate and reasonable location. MAREC’s concern is that, if the sound level is measured at the property lines (as proposed throughout the rules) wind project development in Ohio will be devastated. Therefore, sound measurements should focus on the applicable residences that could potentially be affected by the sound level, i.e., structures that are inhabited.

It may interest readers to know that noise regulation was originally the province of the US EPA which carried out investigations and studies on noise and its effect on the public health and welfare through the

Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC). In 1981 the federal government decided that noise issues were best handled at the State and local level. As a result, ONAC was closed and primary responsibility of addressing noise issues was transferred to State and local governments. However, EPA retains authority to investigate and study noise and its effect, disseminate information to the public regarding noise pollution and its adverse health effects, respond to inquiries on matters related to noise, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations for protecting the public health and welfare, pursuant to the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978. (Source US EPA). Given that the EPA turned over noise regulation but local zoning authority for industrial wind was pre-empted by the State of Ohio, it is especially important that the OPSB adopt rules protective of the health and welfare of the community. And calling it noise is an accurate, descriptive term.

THE WORST comment is the letter from the Ohio Environmental Council. Consider: When the statute was passed, there was no public discussion and no analysis on whether or not the increased setback distance was necessary, as it was enacted hastily in Ohio House Bill 483 (Amstutz – 130th GA). As a result, the revised setback has effectively zoned new wind projects out of the state, decimating the prospect of new wind projects, and injuring clean energy progress. Until 2014, Ohio was attracting millions of dollars in investment in new wind energy projects. As a result, Ohio’s air quality improved, new jobs were created, and local governments began seeing new revenue coming in to support their operations. Sadly, this progress was all but halted by the abrupt enactment of these overly burdensome wind turbine regulations that created unnecessary red tape for investors and project developers, specifically the implementation of the unnecessary and overly burdensome setback requirements promulgated by this proposed rule. It has effectively placed a moratorium on new wind development, and there has been no new wind applications approved since the new setback requirements were enacted.

We don’t believe the OEC claims that industrial wind has already “improved Ohio’s air quality”. A recent study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity estimates the federal Clean Power Plan will have a small effect on temperature and is the equivalent of reducing rising sea levels by “the thickness of one to two human hairs.” If that is the assessment for the entire impact of the CPP, a couple of wind factories in Ohio could not possibly have had a detectable impact on air quality.

The industry comments on the OPSB rules are an all-out assault on property rights of rural landowners. In the face of all of this, we were very happy to read Senate President Keith Faber’s sentiments in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Faber expressed no sympathy for wind developers who claim legislation he supported has made it impossible to develop future wind-farm sites. He said his concern is for the property rights of neighboring landowners who are not being compensated for the impact of the turbines on their land. He said he has had discussions on the issue in his office and in the Indian Lake area of Ohio. Indian Lake is in Logan County, northwest of Columbus. “

While the rule-making process is underway, the Icebreaker project proposed for Lake Erie is in the pre-application stage at the OPSB. Reports are coming in of criticism from organizations representing the Great Lakes in the US and Canada. Our friends at NAPAW have renamed it “Wing Breaker”! The wildlife compliance comments from the wind industry indicate that bird and bat issues may be more of a problem for them than we knew. They appear to want to water them down and remove references to federal programs designed to protect avian species. This comes at a time when researchers are documenting that “there is evidence that wind facilities may be having continental-scale impacts on some bird populations.”

While they did not choose to file comments on the OPSB Rules, The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund released a study this week intended to provide the Governor with justification for reinstating the renewable mandates. And for good measure, they threw in a plea for rollback of property line setbacks. Elsewhere, a study from the Independent Institute was interesting in that they assert the exaggerated claims of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as an “historic and important step” that “takes real action on climate change” and is “fair” and “flexible” is an attempt to distract people from asking questions like, “Who will pay for this?” and “By how much will the CPP reduce climate change?” Maybe the screams and yells about property-line versus residence setbacks is an attempt to distract people from those same substantive questions.

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….