BigWind huffing and puffing all over Ohio, especially near the Farm Bureau

In addition to news reports, there are three important items to relay on Ohio wind projects:

Invenergy’s 175 MW Hardin Wind project is awaiting regulatory approvals in Virginia and West Virginia for the sale of the facility to Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of AEP.  If approved, Appalachian would directly own and operate Hardin Wind.

Union Neighbors United in Champaign County announces that (with the exception of Turbine T-107) EverPower will refrain from constructing wind turbines in Union Township;  EverPower will file an application with the Ohio Power Siting Board to seek approval to reduce the 108-turbine location design approved under the combined Buckeye I Project and Buckeye II Project to a 55-turbine location design, of which no more than 50 turbines maximum will be installed; and the UNU will not oppose the reduced project.

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against the Black Fork Wind motion to dismiss the appeal brought by citizens in Richland and Crawford Counties.  The case before the OSC challenges the failure of the Ohio Power Siting Board to consider a revision to the Black Fork Certificate as an “amendment”.   If the OPSB had ruled the Black Fork motion to revise its project was, in fact, an amendment of the certificate, a hearing on the project change would have been required and property line setbacks would be triggered.  Black Fork had previously been grandfathered under the old setbacks measured from homes. In seeking to dismiss the appeal, the Vorys law firm argued that Black Fork should be denied a hearing based on an alleged technical flaw in their appeal.  One June 6th, Black Fork filed a second amendment seeking approval to allow the use of the Vestas VI10 turbine model with a 2.2 megawatt capacity which has the same physical dimensions as the previously approved Vestas VI10 turbine model with a 2.0 megawatt capacity. Black Fork Wind Energy has also requested an extension of its certificate to January 23, 2020.

This court filing is worth reviewing as the FB  states:

Farm Bureau members have an interest in effective wind energy development. Along with enhancing their income, farmers engaged in wind leasing agreements want to make sure that construction activities on their property adhere to procedures ensuring soil and water conservation as well as air quality. Residents in rural neighborhoods want assurances that environmental considerations, such as setbacks, noise standards, shadow flicker, and other factors, are addressed with effective turbine placement. Area businesses want to make sure that a wind facility in the community enhances local commerce and economic development. In short, OFBF has extensive experience gathering input, addressing the needs of, and representing farm, small business, and rural residents concerning energy development. OFBF’s interest in this case is guided by policy resolutions from Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 State Policies.

 

This articulation of the Farm Bureau’s role raises more questions than answers given that they have consistently taken the side of the wind developer in every case before the OPSB.  In looking at the Farm Bureau website for the “policy resolution” which they contend is “guiding” them, we find only this:

 

Energy: Development of the state’s comprehensive energy policy continues to be a priority for Ohio Farm Bureau. Agriculture is being called upon to provide feedstocks to help produce energy, as well as accommodate generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure on farm ground. In 2017, Farm Bureau will provide education and outreach for its members. Finding ways to ensure energy lease and easement holders are provided information on project developments and advocacy in regulatory proceedings will be priorities. Farm Bureau will promote a diversified energy portfolio of advanced technologies which includes, but is not limited to, coal and nuclear as well as cost effective renewable technologies….

Corruption and Politics at the Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court opinion is still being digested – many people think it ranks among the worst decisions ever made and that it reeks of politics. The majority’s justifications for its decision would be laughable if they were not so injurious to not only Champaign County but to other communities who follow. UNU argued the project did not meet the public interest but the Court found that the generation of electricity meets the public interest even though there was no evidence of unmet demand for power. UNU argued the setbacks were inadequate and showed that the blade throw in Paulding County went further than the approved setbacks and that the legislature had even changed the setbacks to exceed what the OPSB had previously approved. The Court said that the Phase II setbacks were the same as the Phase I setbacks so they were okay despite the fact the setbacks from Phase I are now illegal for any new projects. We could go on but the analysis below gives a fairly detailed analysis….

The Ohio Supreme Court let stand a certificate to construct a 52-turbine wind farm granted to a company planning to build its second operation in Champaign County.

The Supreme Court voted 5-2 to reject a challenge to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s construction certificate issued to Champaign Wind LLC, which seeks to build the Buckeye Wind II wind farm. The Court rejected arguments by Champaign County governmental entities and a collection of citizen groups opposing the construction of the wind-powered electric-generation facility. Writing for the Court, Justice Judith L. French ruled the siting board’s order was neither unlawful nor unreasonable and that alleged errors by the board in the siting process did not affect the overall outcome.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote the board improperly rejected evidence of a “blade throw” at another Ohio wind farm and expert testimony on how to accurately gauge the noise from the facility that would justify further restrictions on the location of the turbines….

 

In her opinion, Justice French divides the objections of the opponents into four categories:

Blade throw and setbacks
Wind-turbine noise
Requirements under the state’s public interest, convenience, and necessity law
Procedural and evidence-related arguments.
Paulding County Blade Throw Stirs Debate
Justice French explained that a “blade throw” is a potentially dangerous occurrence at wind farms and happens when a turbine blade or blade segment tears off and is thrown from the turbine. The opponents argue the siting board did not appropriately consider an April 2012 blade throw from a Paulding County wind farm where the largest piece of blade traveled 764 feet from the failed turbine….

 

The opponents also argued the incident demonstrated the minimum distance setbacks approved by the board were insufficient to protect neighboring properties. Justice French noted the General Assembly has since required greater setbacks than mandated at the time the board approved the Buckeye Wind II application, which required a minimum setback of 541 feet from a neighbor’s property line and 919 feet from a neighbor’s residence.

The citizen group argued the setback should be at a minimum of 1,640 feet from a property line based on the location of smaller pieces of blade found after the Paulding County incident, and other reports of blade throws from around the world. The county argued the manufacturer’s safety manuals justified a setback of at least 1,300 feet.

Justice French wrote the Court considers the siting board to be in the best position to consider the disputed claims, and noted it considered the evidence presented by the company, the opponents, and the siting board staff.(haha, is this a joke? the OPSB has NEVER said NO to BigWind) The staff disagreed with the county’s claims and suggested the proposed locations met the minimum required setbacks of most, if not all, of the wind-turbine manufacturers. Justice French indicated the setbacks were the same as those approved for the first Buckeye Wind operation and the Court “concluded that ample evidence supports the board’s approval of the setbacks.”…

 

“The county and neighbors were active participants at every stage of the board proceeding. Indeed, 36 witnesses testified at the three-week hearing, with the neighbors presenting six witnesses and the county presenting four,” Justice French wrote. “The parties introduced 122 exhibits, and the hearing resulted in a 3,010-page transcript. The board issued a comprehensive opinion reviewing and addressing all of the parties’ arguments.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell(remember, he now has family connection who now works for a BigWind company), Judith Ann Lanzinger, and William M. O’Neill joined the opinion.

Dissent Argues Critical Evidence Ignored
Justice Kennedy noted that while the Court has affirmed prior siting board approvals of wind farms, this is the first time it considered the setbacks since an Ohio wind farm threw a blade, and the first case where opponents offered expert opinions challenging the correct way to calculate background noise in a rural area.

Justice Kennedy noted that while Champaign Wind agreed not to use the turbine that was involved in a blade throw in Paulding County, all of the turbine makers being considered by the company use virtually the same systems and have nearly the same risks. She explained the siting board found credible evidence that the six-and-a-half-pound piece of blade thrown 764 feet in that incident had the same force as a 40-pound block being dropped from an eight-story building.

She wrote that when the Court approved the 541-foot setback for the first wind farm in 2012, the only evidence presented showed a blade could be thrown 500 feet. Since the evidence shows a blade from a model similar to those under consideration in Champaign County can travel more than 700 feet, the minimum setbacks approved by the board are insufficient.

“In this case, the board’s continued use of the minimum property setback of 541 feet fails to minimize the adverse effect that a blade throw can have on the property of a nonparticipating owner,” she wrote. “Therefore, the setbacks approved in the certificate are unreasonable because they are against the manifest weight of the evidence.”

Regarding the turbine noise, Justice Kennedy points out there are two methods to measure background noise – Leq and L90, and the company’s expert used the Leq method even though in his opinion it was unsuitable for the project. All the acoustical experts who testified agreed the method used to calculate background noise in this case was an inappropriate method which was unsuitable for wind turbines in a rural area. The expert for Champaign Wind said he used the unsuitable method because it was the method previously used in Ohio. Because all the experts agreed an unsuitable method was used to calculate background noise, the board acted unreasonably in its continued use of an unsupported method in the face of contrary expert testimony, Justice Kennedy concluded.

“Granting a certificate, as the board did here, on the basis of an unsuitable method to calculate background noise in a rural area that permits the facility to emit a noise level that is known to exceed health limits, where the noise becomes ‘intrusive and annoying’ is not only unreasonable, it is unconscionable and unlawful,” she wrote.

Justice Paul E. Pfeifer joined her dissent.

Source: Certificate for Company’s Second Wind Farm in Champaign County Approved

Ohio BigWind doesn’t have ‘their ducks in a row’

The Dayton and Springfield papers report on HB 190 to give County Commissioners the opportunity to reduce the setbacks currently provided in the law. UNU notes that only the opportunity to reduce – not lengthen – setbacks is proposed. If current setbacks are the MINIMUM, we can only conclude that to reduce them would put families in harm’s way. We encourage everyone to watch the video shot earlier this month when a wind turbine failed in Germany and a 176 lb “fragment” was thrown 1, 670 feet. This short video gives an excellent overview of the debris field. We are reminded of the blade failure in 2012 at the Timber Road II wind farm in Paulding County. Blade Throw

A Windlab representative and the attorney for Greenwich Neighbors United appeared at a recent Township Trustee meeting to address the fact that 62% of the turbines in the Greenwich Wind project do not meet minimum setbacks and waivers have not been secured. The OPSB has approved the project despite Windlab’s failure to obtain setback waivers. GNU will appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. So, is Ohio ‘out of step’ with the rest of the country/world with our current setbacks?

In Boone County, Illinois an ordinance was passed that all wind turbines must be placed at a minimum of 2640 feet from a PROPERTY LINE. Waivers are allowed, which can reduce the turbine setback down to 1,500 feet from a residence ONLY if the host or neighbor agrees to the wind energy company’s waiver. 1,500 feet from a residence is the minimum distance allowed. The waivers would be negotiated with individual neighbors and land owners. Setbacks from roads or easement are now set at twice the turbine height. “Mainstream Renewables was attempting to develop a wind farm in Boone County, but tonight’s vote by well-informed county board members effectively rejected the wind industry’s claims that industrial wind turbines were merely “annoying” and not necessarily “harmful” at distances less than 0.5 miles from property lines. Mainstream Renewable’s attorney, James Griffin, tried to make claims that the setback waiver would be “unconstitutional,” but the Boone County State’s attorney did not support his argument.”   Boone County setback

In Falmouth, MA where the wind turbines have been a source of ongoing headaches for local government and residents, it now comes to light that the City government was advised by Vestas that the noise ratings of the turbines would be substantially higher under certain conditions and that the manufacturer had concerns about safety from ice throw. The 2010 letter which has just come to light states “The manufacturer also needs confirmation that the Town of Falmouth understands they are fully responsible for the site selection of the turbine and bear all responsibilities to address any mitigation needs of the neighbors.” It is hard to fathom why it took five years for this letter to be made public.

We provide information on the wind turbine siting rules for Freedom, Maine where “To protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Freedom, Turbines shall be set back from the property line of any non-participating land owner a distance of no less than 13 times the turbine height.” That would be about 4,000 feet for a 300’ turbine. The noise measurements are standard 5 decibels over background and shadow flicker is limited to 10 hours a year.  Maine setback ……

A developer of wind energy said Tuesday she’s excited to begin construction of a wind turbine park in rural Greenwich and looks forward to the project generating money for the community.

But Jensen is way ahead of herself, according to an attorney for a group of rural Greenwich residents opposed to the project.

“They don’t have all their ducks in a row,” said the attorney, Sam Randazzo of the Columbus-area firm McNees Wallace & Nurick. He represents the group of residents calling themselves Greenwich Neighbors United.

The lawyer, who specializes in energy and Jensen were in the same room following a Greenwich Township Trustees meeting on Tuesday. After the township officials met, Randazzo explained to a roomful of residents who oppose the project that Jensen has work to do before construction can begin.

Jensen listened to Randazzo without expressing noticeable outward signs of disapproval.

Randazzo has said out of the project’s 25 turbines, 62 percent violate the minimum setback requirements, amounting to “at least 100 (affected) property owners.”…

Source: ‘They don’t have all their ducks in a row’