You didn’t know BigWind will be building beside YOU in Ohio? See FAA approvals

Could BigWind be planning a move next to you?  Visit the link, below, which is the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.  Pending applications for approval of wind turbines are listed here.  The FAA has three categories: 1) Proposed; 2) Interim and 3) Determined.  As of today, there are seven cases involving 22 industrial wind turbines under review by the FAA.  These may include cases not currently under review by the Ohio Power Siting Board because they may fall below the size threshold which triggers OPSB review.  For instance, there is one turbine proposed for a rural area near Celina in Mercer County. It appears that the turbine may be intended to support a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feed Operation).  Notwithstanding, there are smaller homes in the area that are very close to the proposed turbine.  Do the neighbors know?  What protects them?

There are two new FAA applications in the Findlay area each for 2 turbines.  In Darke County near Greenville two rows of three turbines are proposed.  Nowhere has this project surfaced previously.  The turbines are 410 feet tall and presumably they would be more than 1 MW each thus crossing the threshold required for OPSB consideration but there is nothing pending at OPSB for Darke County.   Why not? Other projects include Leipsic (2 turbines), McComb (2 turbines) and more.   All readers should visit the FAA website for additional information.

 The FAA follows federal regulations in determining whether a hazard to navigation may be present.   Portions of the regulations are provided below to introduce readers to aspects of the FAA evaluation process.  More information may be obtained by following the link below or googling “FAA obstruction”.

Also of interest, the U.S. Department of Energy reports Ohio ranks in the top ten for distributed wind energy.   If the FAA reports discussed about is any indicator, it looks like Ohio will move up in the rankings with more manufacturers building on-site wind.  But we were disturbed by the quotes from Patrick Gilman, a program manager with the Wind Energy Technologies Office at the U.S. Department of Energy.    Gilman said wind energy is expected to keep growing in Ohio and across the nation despite legislative obstacles and opposition from certain sects of the population.  He also repeated the bad info about Ohio’s setbacks being more restrictive than other states.  Does AWEA have a D.O.E. employee on the payroll?

Source: Obstruction Evaluation / Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA)

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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

The ‘Spin Doctors’ of BigWind are in Ohio….

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The Doctor is “In” – that is, the Spin Doctors of industrial wind. This past week the Spin Doctors were busy in their emergency rooms using the tools of their profession: truthiness (half truths) , proofiness, cherry-picking, fear mongering, false choices, weasel words and euphemism to save their hides.

“Spin (which is actually propaganda from a military perspective) is making us blind to what is happening. Being blind, we let our governments and big corporations get away with doing things that are unjust and to the detriment of the economy of the ordinary people and detrimental to democracy. Spin has been and continues to be used to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public.” http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/05/spotting-spin-some-tricks-of-trade.html

Reply comments on wind siting rules were submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board on November 8th. The Mid-American Renewable Energy Coalition and the Ohio Environmental Council took shots at GNU and UNU and vice versa. We were dumbfounded by the spinning served up by the windies and enviros. Dizzy! Take some Dramamine and visit the link, below, to read all of the reply comments. We will share some spin highlights….

Ø Cherry-Picking & Truthiness: “MAREC believes the Board should apply wind energy standards that are consistent with neighboring United States jurisdictions, rather than adopting rules from foreign nations whose rural landscapes and population densities are vastly different than in those areas where wind farms are proposed in Ohio. A cursory review of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan wind energy ordinances establishes that Ohio’s guidelines are already more restrictive than counties where wind farms both have and have not been built.”

MAREC lists four “cherry-picked” Indiana setback examples and suggests Ohio should emulate them. Yet, a more comprehensive list of 12 other Indiana counties reflects that 5 ban industrial wind facilities outright and five establish setbacks from property lines. The Indiana property line setbacks range from 1,300’ to 3,960’ (¾ mile). The two counties that measure from the residence have setbacks of 2640’ and 1,500’ from a non-participant residence. Our Indiana list also shows MAREC’s information about Tipton County is factually incorrect. Tipton revised their setbacks in July to 2640’ from residence, 1500’ from the property line within the Prairie Breeze development area and 1460’ from property line in the rest of the county.

If MAREC wants OPSB to apply wind energy standards “consistent with neighboring United States jurisdictions,” they would have to agree to enabling Ohio counties to ban industrial wind facilities outright as five Indiana Counties have done; establish setbacks from property lines as five counties have done; or lengthen setbacks from the residence as two have done. We recommend that readers use the MAREC chart and the Indiana list which reveals the dishonesty of MAREC when visiting with your local elected officials both at the state and county levels.

Ø Proofiness: Outight lying with numbers to mislead; quoting statistics out of context so that they mislead; distorting statistics; or using incorrect logic in order to mislead the audience.

“ It is MAREC’s view that the Board should acknowledge the original setback regulations “worked” considering there are nearly zero sound or shadow flicker complaints against the two existing wind farms in Ohio with over 5 years in operation. The Board should not adopt sound and shadow flicker impact setbacks from property lines.” (MAREC reply Page 3) In this instance, MAREC is deceptive because the wind leases and “good neighbor agreements” contain gag clauses that forbid landowners from complaining. This was recently reconfirmed in Hardin County when an EverPower representative peddling a good neighbor agreement advised that they would be free to complain but only to EverPower. Wind developers contractually suppress complaints and then defend their practices based on the assertion that there are “no complaints.” SPIN!

Similarly, MAREC asserts at page 15 of their reply that “Trade secrets: UNU argues an applicant should be required to submit to staff any post-certificate evaluation of shadow flicker impacts, including all supporting documentation; however, this information should not be protected by trade secret. MAREC disagrees – trade secret information should be protected in accordance with the statute.” Whether it is bird kills or shadow flicker intrusion, the wind industry works to manipulate or hide information that may be damaging to them and then relies on “proofiness” to spin their argument.

More general “proofiness” was revealed this week in the industry publication, Wind Watch, when the statistics used to assert public support for wind were exposed as misleading. “Seventy-seven percent of Trump supporters want more wind farms, but 69% want more coal mines, 66% want more offshore drilling, 58% want more fracking, and 55% want more nuclear. Trump supporters want wind farms, but that is only because they want more electricity whatever source it comes from. Whether it is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ doesn’t seem to matter. The research also does not specify how much new wind capacity they would want, so they may only want a tiny amount.”

Ø Euphemisms –“ When part of a spin performance, euphemisms are usually used with other spin methods. With spin, euphemisms tend to be used when the intent is to manage the impressions of the audience so that they will not react to bad news in a way the spinner does not want.” http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/05/spotting-spin-some-tricks-of-trade.html

UNU’s Reply at page 14 states “Initially, MAREC objects to the Board’s use of the term “noise” and asks the Board to use only the term “sound,” contending that “noise” has “a negative connotation that indicates loud, harsh, or disturbing sound.” But make no mistake about it, the sounds imposed on the public by wind turbines are loud, harsh, and disturbing. The semantic niceties offered by the wind industry cannot disguise that fact. Acoustic engineers define “noise” as “unwanted sound.” Since no one desires the sounds from a wind turbine, not even the turbine’s host landowner, “noise” is the most appropriate term for turbine emissions in this rule.

We direct the reader’s attention to the timely article from Columbus Business First reporting that Ohio State University has been engaged in a research project called “Sounds of New York.” In this instance, the sound is not just “noise” but “noise pollution”. Whether one is in a quiet rural area or in a bustling urban environment, there is a point at which the increase in “sound” is unwanted and harmful. Important to note, also, is that human complaint data is considered to be important in understanding and responding to the problem. OSU acknowledges complaint data can “provide reliable information to support decision making”. But OOPS! Here we go back to “Proofiness”! In New York, complaint information is essential to addressing a problem while the wind industry hides complaint information and dares the public to disprove their “proof” that there are no complaints about noise or shadow flicker.

We could go on and on. Our message to all is EYES WIDE OPEN. Understand the tricks of spin and help your community to SEE how wind propaganda is being deployed to BLIND them to the truth….

In the Matter of the Ohio Power Siting Board’s Review of Rule 4906-4-08 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

Status: OPEN-OPEN
Industry Code: GE-GAS & ELECTRIC
Purpose Code: BRO-Rule promulgation
Date Opened: 5/18/2016

View All
1 – 15 of 30 documents 1 / 2 First Previous Next Last
Date Filed Summary Pages
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. 14
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition. 34
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation electronically filed by Amy M Milam on behalf of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation 7
11/08/2016 Reply Comments electronically filed by Mr. Christopher A. Walker on behalf of Union Neighbors United and Johnson, Julia F. Ms. and McConnell, Robert Mr. and McConnell, Diane Mrs. 44
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of the Ohio Environmental Council on Review of Rule 4906-04-08 and Proposed OAC 4906-4-09, Case No. 16-1109-GE-BRO electronically filed by Ms. Miranda R. Leppla on behalf of Ohio Environmental Council. 10
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC electronically filed by Teresa Orahood on behalf of Sally W. Bloomfield. 33
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of Greenwich Neighbors United electronically filed by Mr. Samuel C. Randazzo on behalf of Greenwich Neighbors United. 17
11/07/2016 Reply Comment electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Ms. Katie Elsasser. 4
11/07/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Mr. Gary Biglin. 2
11/04/2016 Reply to Initial Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of State Sen. Bill Seitz. 3
11/01/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of State Sen. Bill Seitz 33
10/28/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, Ohio History Connection (SHPO) 3
10/24/2016 Initial Comments electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition. 30
10/24/2016 Comments filed on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. 8
10/24/2016 Comments of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC electronically filed by Teresa Orahood on behalf of Sally W. Bloomfield. 9…..

http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109

Will BigWind ‘Light Up’ Ohio’s night skies even MORE? Ask the FAA

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Several weeks ago the Columbus Metropolitan Club hosted a panel on Alternative Energy. Among those on the panel were Chris Shears, Chief Development Officer for EverPower and Steve Caminati, Executive Vice President of Melamed Communications. Prior to joining Melamed, Caminati was the state public policy director for the Nature Conservancy. Steve’s bio says, “One of Steve’s proudest moments was helping build and lead a diverse coalition of Ohio businesses, consumer groups, public health interests and environmental groups in successfully defeating two attempts to gut the state’s clean energy law. This coalition became known through the media as the “improbable coalition” and generated a ground swell of national interest. Steve continues to work with this coalition helping to propel a new energy vision for Ohio.” So it should come as no surprise that the audience was treated to a fairly one-sided presentation. We wouldn’t be surprised if Caminati dreamed up the idea along with his friends at Ohio State. We encourage everyone to watch the panel presentation which has been posted to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qksBUCc0Hg. The program is about an hour in length. One thing is quite clear – they are continuing to work on repeal of property line setbacks. Shears expressed his pleasure that the Scioto Ridge and Buckeye Wind projects were approved under the old setbacks measured from homes.

In the video, Shears asserts that after projects are built, everyone is happy because EverPower has been so careful to plan their siting and the Ohio Power Siting Board ensures it. We know a family in Pennsylvania who would dispute that! When asked by an audience member about how renewables can power Ohio’s manufacturing economy, the reply given is that there will be growth in manufacturing to meet the needs of the wind industry. Really? Shears even remarks that a Colorado-based wind turbine manufacturer has 47 suppliers based in Ohio. He also points to jobs in data centers that want to run on renewables. No one answered the question of how any manufacturers could power their operations with renewables. Thankfully, the third panelist from Kinder Morgan, the pipeline builder, pointed out that manufacturers look for affordable and reliable energy when considering locations for their operations.

There seems to be a fair amount of activity around the state although not much in the way of construction yet. For those who want to keep ahead of the game, we suggest periodic visits to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Obstruction website at https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/portal.jsp . Tabs on the left side of the webpage can take you to proposed, interim or decided cases. Each and every turbine or met tower in Ohio must be approved by the FAA. Projects currently under review include Buckeye Wind and Seneca Wind as well as a smaller 14 turbine development in Richland County near Shelby. Each turbine is reviewed individually and the geographic coordinates are provided. Another interesting feature of the FAA site is the Wind Build Out tab. By entering a latitude and longitude, the build out tab will display all wind turbines approved or under review from that point out 48 miles. (By going to Google Earth and picking a location to study, you can obtain that location’s lat-long number.) The FFA data provide the best information on turbine location.

In earlier days, wind developers could submit their projects to FAA to determine the feasibility of a development site. The FAA no longer provides this service and instructs developers that “Due to resource limitations, the FAA can no longer support feasibility studies or filings of a speculative nature for proposed Wind Turbine projects. The FAA must have all Wind Turbine configurations including latitude/longitude, height and layout plan at the time of your filing to accurately evaluate the cumulative effect of the entire project as it pertains to the national airspace system. Your proposal may warrant further detailed study including math modelling. Because of this, basic information on the wind turbine may be required (e.g., base width, base offset, nacelle length/radius).” FAA determinations of “No Hazard” are required for every turbine and the designation is good for 18 months.

Three interesting observations from the FAA’s Frequently Asked Questions are:

17. I’ve received a Determination of No Hazard to Air Navigation for my structure. I’ve learned that the coordinates or height may be different than those noted in my determination. Am I required to file a new 7460-1 with the FAA?

A new study (7460-1) is required for any of the following changes: (a) The site elevation or height above ground level (AGL) increases by 1 foot or more, and/or (b) the latitude and/or longitude changes by exactly 1 second or more. For example: Initial latitude 37-00-50.00 – new study is not required for 37-00-49.01 to 49.99, or 37-00-50.01 to 37-00-50.99; a new study is required for 37-00-49.00 or 37-00-51.00. (c) A new filing is required any time there is a change to the frequencies or use of greater power. (d) A lighting study must be submitted if you would like to use marking/lighting other than what was stated as a condition on your determination letter.

If a new study is required based on a height increase or coordinate changes of 1 second or more, you must submit a New Case (Off Airport) prior to the start of construction so the FAA may evaluate your proposal at the revised height or location. If you do not file for a new study prior to the start of construction as required and you submit the Supplemental Notice (FAA Form 7460-2) instead, the system will recognize the changes and initiate a new study. When the new study is initiated you will be required to certify the new information and submit a new filing so the FAA may evaluate your structure under a new Aeronautical Study Number (ASN). NOTE: It is not a given that the proposal at the revised height or location will result in a favorable determination.

No new study is required for a height decrease only. In response to industry feedback, we changed our automated system to accept a height reduction when the Supplemental Notice (7460-2) is submitted. Any height revision that does not increase the height of the original proposal will be accepted. A corrected determination will be issued reflecting the reduced height. There is no time frame set for issuance of the corrected determination, but the OEG specialist/technician will issue it as soon as possible as workload allows.

(Wind News Note: If such small changes require new FAA studies, why shouldn’t developers be subject to public hearing/comment on amended projects instead approved automatically by the OPSB?)

28. Can I file for wind turbines at or higher than 500 feet?

Yes- there is no restriction on heights for filing notice. File electronically on our website for your wind turbines at the highest height and the FAA will conduct an aeronautical study just like any other structure. Please note that at 500 feet or higher, your proposed structure will be in altitudes available to general aviation aircraft. A public notice may be issued to gather aeronautical information, and this includes a 30-day comment period.

29. Is the FAA working on a new lighting scheme for wind turbines that are 500 feet or higher?

Yes – the FAA is developing a new lighting scheme for wind turbines at or over 500 feet. This is necessary because general aviation altitudes start at 500 feet in the U.S. and it’s important for a pilot to detect wind turbines that exceed this threshold. This new lighting scheme will not be retroactive. However, if you have a determination from the FAA and have not built yet, we may revise the lighting plan.

These questions are interesting. The Seneca County project indicates turbine height of 660’ – that is tall! Buckeye Wind turbines are 492’ while the Shelby turbines are 443’. In earlier days, area landowners objected to the many flashing turbine lights in the night sky and accommodations were often made to only light the perimeter of a project. The new turbine models with increased heights, may require additional lighting….We are certain that the neighbors will LOVE the addition of MORE lights into their night skies….

 

Ohioans concerned that China may purchase BigWind site(s)

Champaign County presented its oral argument in the Ohio Supreme Court 

A recap of the Supreme Court appeal is included below. It was tough sailing for Assistant Prosecutor Jane Napier who was challenged by the justices on why the County did not raise timely objections to issues surrounding the relocation and consolidation of the Buckeye Wind Phase I staging area into the Buckeye Wind Phase II staging area. There seemed to be some consensus that if the County did not object to the consolidation of the staging areas earlier in the process, they were not entitled to object after the fact of OPSB’s Phase II approval. Napier argued that the amount of impact on the consolidated staging area was going to be twice that which was originally planned and there would be twice the damage to roads. Because the OPSB had no requirements for Road Use Maintenance Agreements when Buckeye I was approved but did have RUMA’s by the time Buckeye II was approved, Champaign County argued a hearing was necessary in order for the OPSB to also order a RUMA for the revised Phase I project and potential road damage. The OPSB argued that EverPower people were “nice guys” and would certainly repair any Phase I damage to the standards required in Phase II, and besides, they said, the three areas of concern for the County were all improvements to the project and we should be happy.

Sitting in on the case as a substitute justice was retired Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer. Pfeifer is not known to be a great admirer of wind developments. He asked Asst. Prosecutor Napier if there wasn’t some concern on the part of the County that EverPower might sell the project before it was built and the new owner might not be so agreeable on fixing damage caused by Phase I construction if there was no RUMA. Besides, he wondered, what if only Phase I was built and Phase II was never built, wouldn’t Champaign County be stuck with no recourse for road repairs?

This seems to be a timely question as we find recent news of EverPower’s owner Terra Firma’s continued deteriorating condition. The article below speculates that Terra Firma’s CEO Guy Hands may never again be able to raise money to invest in new deals; some investors like the State of Oregon have lost ½ of their investment; and “even in its new partnership deals, Terra Firma will need to arrange considerable debt financing — which is where its lawsuit’s allegations against individual Citi bankers may cast a long shadow. Bankers who work on such deals say the prospect of fraud accusations and multiyear lawsuits can make agreeing to refinance a buyout difficult.”

Since its inception, Terra Firma has held about 31 investments in its portfolio. Of those, only nine remain and one of the nine, Infinis, a wind energy company based in the UK is now rumored to be sold to the Chinese. According to the article below, Infinis is now worth about 30% less than it was when Terra Firma tried unsuccessfully to spin it off as a publicly traded company a year or so ago. We know that Terra Firma’s US wind company, EverPower, is also for sale and, if Infinis is sold, EverPower will be only one of eight holdings left in the Terra Firma portfolio. If the Chinese decide to buy it as well, maybe Justice Pfeifer’s concerns about Buckeye Wind Phase I and possible unprotected road damage may be prophetic….

High Court Hears Oral Arguments In Case Of First Wind Farm To Receive Construction Certificate From Power Siting Board

Reflective of an ongoing policy debate regarding alternative energy development in the state, the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday fielded oral arguments in a wind farm case pitting county officials against the Power Siting Board.

Champaign County alleges that the state regulatory panel’s approval of three amendments to a proposed wind farm’s operating certificate without a hearing was improper because the changes amount to a material increase in the environmental impact of the facility.

“The county and townships are collectively concerned with the Ohio Power Siting Board’s failure to hold necessary hearings or to establish or modify conditions which are commonplace in more recent cases and relevant to the amendment proposed,” said Jane Napier, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Champaign County.

The state and the company developing the facility ague otherwise, saying the county forfeited its right to appeal because it did not raise any of its stated claims before or during another hearing….

Ms. Napier argued that Buckeye Wind’s construction staging location, the burial of transmission lines and alterations made to roadways in the area could have a negative impact and should be subject to a hearing….

Ms. Napier said local residents did raise objections, but the county did not….

Justice French then indicated the failure to raise those objections could be a problem for the county’s case.

“Isn’t that a problem for you to say, ‘That’s what we would have done, but we didn’t?'” she asked. “So doesn’t that mean that the county has forfeited, if not waived, an objection.”

Ms. Napier disagreed with that assessment.

But Werner Margard, counsel for the attorney general’s office, furthered that argument.

“I think it’s significant to note, as you have noted, that the appellants had numerous opportunities to be able to raise this issue and either refused or failed to do so until after the board issued its order in this case,” he said.

The county argued that combining two construction staging areas into one creates an environmental impact. However, Mr. Margard said the two staging areas were already on the same parcel of land.

“We now just have one footprint of a staging area remaining,” he said.

Buckeye Wind, in a filing with the court, argued that the county forfeited its right to appeal and did not present the court with any factual evidence to back its claims. It also argued that the board’s orders were reasonably and lawfully supported by the record evidence.

“The record is replete with ample evidence that the three amendments were an indisputable improvement in the project that reduced its scope and impact and that will not result in a material environmental impact or a substantial change in all or a portion of the facility,” the company wrote in a merit brief as an intervening appellee.

The county also raised the issue of the buried utility lines. But Justice Paul Pfeifer said he views that as a positive change.

“It seems to me that this is a positive move and I would hope the Power Siting Board is nudging and pushing for that kind of infrastructure in the future,” he said.

Buckeye Wind in 2010 became Ohio’s first wind-powered generation facility to receive a construction certificate from the Power Siting Board.  Statehouse News July 12, 2016

Van Wert county commissioner opinion of BigWind

A Van Wert county commissioner opinion about the new potential for a 35,000 Apex project. He compares this to living next to a hog farm…which no one wants to do. If you have heard that communities are torn apart by the wind industry, he hints at that reality in Van Wert. What will happen if the Apex Long Prairie Project moves forward? It looks like the one commissioner wants to leave this decision up to the people who will reside amongst it. Read a lot of common sense in this article…

Wanna start an argument? Go to almost any random group of people in Van Wert County and state your opinion about windmills. Chances are, you will quickly find someone with whom to disagree…

But, if you are going to build something on your property, you are subject to a tax assessment. Real property taxes are assessed on all land, buildings and structures. If a property owner would choose to build a windmill, they would be taxed on its full value.

The question then is should a wind farm receive a tax break? The pro crowd argues that, yes, most definitely, this is economic development and a tax break should be automatic. The current wind farm is taxed pursuant to a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) wherein the schools, county, townships, and other agencies receive a fixed payment instead of the windmills being normally assessed. This results in about a 70-80 percent reduction in tax payments.

A few years ago, before the state changed the setbacks and after several conferences with our township trustees, the Ohio Power Siting Board and Iberdrola, we determined that the PILOT eliminated our ability to negotiate with wind companies and was not in our county’s best interest. We revoked the Alternative Energy Zone designation for our county that had allowed the Blue Creek Wind Farm to be taxed under the PILOT.

Should the setbacks be returned to a manageable distance for Apex or Iberdrola to build a farm, this is the issue we would present to voters. We would ask the affected townships and the wind company to negotiate a tax scheme that has a chance to be approved and then submit it for an up or down vote.

A concern becomes who gets to vote on this issue? It does not seem appropriate that areas that stand only to benefit from a taxing scheme be allowed to vote to burden another area. For example, if a mega hog farm would want to locate on the outskirts of Convoy and the tax benefits would accrue to every other part of the county, what might be the result in Middle Point of that vote? Or if the roles were reversed, what might be the result in Convoy?

Van Wert City Schools would receive a significant monetary benefit if turbines were located in Liberty Township. But it is the residents of Liberty Township who would be burdened by the presence of the windmills and it would be that township’s tax revenues that are affected by a reduction in the amounts paid by windmill owners. I don’t know a definition of fair that would allow Van Wert City voters, an overwhelming majority of the school district, to determine this issue for Liberty Township….

Personally, I think I’ve been clear on my position in the past. I think windmills are horrible federal policy but as long as the federal government is intent on bankrupting our next generation, I wouldn’t object to see some of that money get wasted locally.

If you are in the pro crowd, I would advise against trying to pressure us to force windmills on a population that, as of now, does not want them. That has been the tactic of the wind companies for the last few years and it continues to have a zero chance of success. Replace lecturing with negotiation – the antis are well aware of the reasons to build these things and are not convinced. Perhaps you can pay their electric bills to win some support….

 

Will Ohio’s ‘Say Yes to BigWind’ board vote to protect the People or the Windustry?

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OPSB Kevon Martis Testimony

This past week the Ohio Power Siting Board presented rules on industrial wind siting to the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) and, as we reported previously, questions were raised about whether the rules were protective of people and whether protecting people was even a requirement of the proposed rules. With the understanding that the process to develop NEW rules would start two days later on Thursday, Sen. Balderson directed the OPSB to correct the deficiencies in the current rules. The OPSB committed to do so. Thereafter, JCARR voted to approve the deficient rules. We have learned that in the convoluted process of Ohio rulemaking, the committee charged with reviewing rules has little real power. Had the JCARR voted to invalidate the rule, it could only recommend such an action to the Ohio General Assembly. So, it appears that in Ohio, we regulate by appearing to regulate while the wind industry goes it’s merry way??!!!. In retrospect we now have an even greater appreciation of the legislature putting specific language into law in 2014 to measure setbacks from property lines. Read the attached testimony, at the top, for a great explanation AND PICTURE of trespass zoning.

On Thursday, the process of new rule-making got underway with a “workshop” at the OPSB. OPSB staff were seated at the front of the room facing the podium where witnesses took turns providing testimony on what the new siting rules should contain. Thank you to witnesses representing Blackfork Wind project area, Greenwich Neighbors United, Fight the Wind, Union Neighbors United and the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition for offering into the record substantive testimony and reasoned expectations for what is required in order to protect communities from the negative impacts of industrial wind. Testimony from two acoustical experts, Rick James of E-Coustic Solutions and Angelo Campanella both offered expert testimony in support of measuring both audible and inaudible (low frequency) noise. (We do not have the final submissions from everyone and there is additional testimony from Hardin County and Crawford County that was excellent.)

On the other side, Dale Arnold from the Farm Bureau dragged out nothing new other than his offer to assist communities accept the invaders through facilitating greater transparency. It struck us as more arrogance from someone who has nothing to offer. Another witness from the Ohio Historical Society (Ohio History Connection) said that the current procedures were working well to protect Ohio’s cultural assets. And then the one wind developer witness spoke. A lobbyist for Apex stated the rules were perfect and they were reasonable. He said they did not need to be anything other than “reasonable”. Read that to mean they did not need to be “protective”. He said the current property line setbacks constituted a de facto moratorium on wind development. He forgot to say Apex tried to make the same argument in Indiana and a court ruled against them. Instead of handing in his testimony, the Apex spokesman claimed he had discovered an error in a citation which he needed to fix before submitting his testimony. Right. Our view is that the wind industry was waiting to see what arguments the citizens would make and then file comments rebutting those arguments. Apex was probably elected to testify so that at least it would “appear” that the wind industry was a willing participant in the new rulemaking process. Orchestrated kabuki theater.

We believe the “workshop” process will provide for additional written comment to be submitted. We do not know if another round of testimony will be taken and, if so, it will probably hinge on whether or not the wind companies want a forum to rebut the Thursday testimony. If not, the OPSB will at some future time issue draft rules for formal comment and we will have another opportunity to provide input. In the meantime, we need to continue to educate the public about the need for specific, enforceable standards that are protective of families. 

An interesting quote this week from a Logan County letter to the editor: “But isn’t it a little peculiar that we will not know where our commissioners stand until after they vote on June 21? Would you cast a vote for someone to represent you if he or she refused to express an opinion on an important topic, or told you to elect them first and learn their opinions later? Opinion-less representatives do not represent anything — except maybe impotence.”  All of our elected officials should be willing to voice their opinions on an issue and we, the people, deserve to know their opinion before we cast a vote for them!!