It was quite a week. “Head spinning” – to use a wind term. One thing is clear, Apex is under attack in many communities (across America) and it is interesting to see the different ways they are dealing with the communities who are challenging them.
The wind industry is pulling out all stops in what appears to be a last ditch effort to hold onto renewable energy mandates and to repeal property line setbacks in Ohio. The phase out of the federal Production Tax Credits is looming and the risks that a number of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan projects might not meet deadlines or be derailed because of stricter local zoning ordinances is probably driving much of this. Wind has a lot to lose and we are seeing their aggression in full force.
The Ohio Power Siting Board was directed to go back to the drawing board and redraft their rules on setback waivers which Rep. Bill Seitz challenged as being inconsistent with the law. At issue is how many nonparticipating property owners must sign a waiver in order for the current 1,125 foot setback to be suspended. It is anticipated OPSB will refile their rule at the end of the month.
The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum released a questionable state-wide poll of “conservative Ohio voters” finding that 85 percent would pay something extra in their monthly bills for power generated by renewable technologies such as wind and solar. “Nearly half of those polled said they would be willing to pay between $10 and $20 extra every month for green power. The release of the polling results by the Ohio CEF comes as state lawmakers begin hearings on legislation mandating renewable energy, minimum property setback rules for wind turbines, as well as new subsidies for old coal and nuclear power plants.” The poll results are being used to lobby for increased mandates and reduced wind turbine setbacks.
In response to the Conservative Energy Forum “poll,” Rep. Bill Seitz (who has been working tirelessly to pass HB 114 repealing mandates) unleashed one of his signature diatribes against the CEF. In an open letter to members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, Seitz takes on the CEF point by point. THIS IS A MUST READ! Seitz makes the point that if Ohioans are so supportive of wind, there should be no opposition to giving local township voters a say in the matter. “If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).”
Attacks from the wind lobby and the radical left were aided by extremist publication Inside Climate News who with the Weather Channel prepared a 13 minute video documentary called Killing Clean pummeling Rep. Seitz and any Ohio lawmaker who would oppose renewable mandates and other pro-wind policies. This is a vicious production full of inaccurate reporting – but it also features our own Van Wert warrior, Jeremy Kitson. We regard these polls and attacks as a sign of desperation and a call for all wind warriors to fight back by staying in constant touch with your local elected officials to prove that the wind lobby is spreading falsehoods.
On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held its first hearing on SB 238 to repeal property line setbacks. Bill sponsor Sen. Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls provided testimony and offered an amendment to the bill specifically stating county engineers’ responsibility to make sure wind developers restore damaged roads or infrastructure to their condition prior to development. It also states police and fire personnel must be trained for emergencies stemming from wind farms. Dolan asserted that while these provisions were already in the law, he was clarifying them as part of demonstrating that local control of wind development already exists. Good grief. There are no further hearings scheduled at this time.
In Huron County, local wind warriors provided information to the County Commissioners in opposition to their possible consideration of designating the county as an Alternative Energy Zone (“AEZ”). An AEZ makes PILOT automatic anywhere in the County. This designation is being pushed by Apex who threatens that they will not proceed with the Emerson Creek project unless they receive tax abatement through the PILOT program. In addition, Sam Randazzo wrote an opinion piece for the local Norwalk paper further describing the negative consequences of PILOT. THIS IS MUST READ. Among Randazzo’s points is “For example, the commissioners indicated that the state (and more specifically the Ohio Power Siting Board) would make sure that any Apex wind farm would not negatively affect the environment. Most of the local property owners who have been active in Ohio Power Siting Board proceedings know that the Ohio Power Siting Board is either unwilling or unable to protect the public interest. For example, as I explained in the attached prepared statement, the Ohio Power Siting Board lacks technical expertise to evaluate proposed wind farms and has typically used a method of evaluating wind turbine noise output that is unacceptable for use in rural areas. The Ohio Power Siting Board also has ignored minimum safe distance warnings of wind turbine manufacturers with regard to ice throw and fire risks.”
Bowling Green is touting its reputation as the “Greenest City in Ohio” drawing 41 percent of total power usage from sustainable energy sources, providing a home to Ohio’s largest solar field and the state’s first utility-sized wind farm. Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green is a co-sponsor of SB 238 to reduce setbacks. We note, however, that while the local wind farm located on a landfill outside of town was the first in the state, it was also the last for Bowling Green which has turned to solar and hydro. But hey – why not let the good green people of Bowling “Green” have all the turbines and reduced setbacks they want? Why don’t they start with declaring Wood an Alternative Energy Zone?
At the Ohio Public Utilities Commission a hearing took place to reconsider whether a November ruling should be changed. The PUCO ruling reduced the amount that private owners of wind turbines and solar panels can receive for selling excess power back to the utility. PUCO’s concern was that as more and more consumers and businesses generate their own power, others who rely on their utility will have to shoulder a higher cost of maintaining the grid. ONE Energy of Findlay which supplies wind turbines to Ohio manufacturers was among those criticizing the November ruling.
The PUCO has ordered the state’s utilities to prepare to lower rates it has been charging customers to “recover” federal taxes, as allowed by state law. The commission reasons that the lower tax bills utilities will now enjoy because of the cut in federal corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent should go to customers. Under state law, the regulated utilities can pass along tax burdens to customers. The PUCO also agreed to give Amazon a discount on the rate it will pay for electricity….. If electricity rates rise, in the future, do you think Amazon (EXTREMELY PRO WIND) or Ohio ratepayers will pay for the increase??
COMMUNICATION TO ALL HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS & GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FROM REP. BILL SEITZ January 12, 2018
The wind lobby is ramping up its minions to tout a new “statewide poll” commissioned by the (astroturf) Ohio Conservative Energy Forum purporting to show that conservatives “overwhelmingly support clean energy policies.” They even went so far as to draft “social media posts that we’d appreciate your help in amplifying the message and results.”
I’m here to do my part to “amplify the message” with some inconvenient truths. Here goes.
“76% of conservative voters SUPPORT changing setback limits to allow more wind energy development”
If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).
“85% of conservative voters voiced willingness to personally pay more for their electricity if sourced from renewable energy sources”
That’s great news, because all Ohioans can make that choice now! As Representative Roegner has amply demonstrated, there are electric suppliers on the PUCO website from whom anyone can buy 100% renewable power if they are indeed willing “to personally pay more.” With that kind of support, mandates are simply unnecessary. All that needs to happen is for those “85% of conservative voters” to put their money where their polling mouth is! A better question, neither asked nor answered by the poll, is: so why aren’t these “conservative voters” taking advantage of the options they currently have to buy energy sourced from renewables? (An inconvenient truth: very few are doing so).
“Conservative voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies”
You bet they do. But mandates are not a conservative’s way of getting there. True conservatives use their own money to further policies in which they believe. I needed no “mandate” to install rooftop solar on my house last year. Legislation that we have supported promotes customers choosing to opt-in or opt-out of renewable and energy efficiency mandates; expands the definition of efficiency to include more means of becoming efficient; expands the definition of renewables to include additional kinds of renewable energy; and promotes property assessed clean energy as a financing tool to fund energy efficiency projects that businesses and homeowners voluntarily choose to undertake (inconvenient truth: supporting clean energy policies does not mean exporting some people’s policy preferences by having other people pay for those choices).
“Ohio conservatives are ready to allow the farmers the opportunity to decide what’s best for their business and property.”
Conservatives also believe that farmers’ private property rights don’t extend to stealing their neighbors’ land to satisfy the required setbacks of wind turbines from neighbors’ property lines. Farmers and their neighbors should be allowed to waive required setbacks (current law allows this), and they should be able to enjoy a local vote on whether setbacks should be reduced to promote wind farms. And when those farmers are deciding what’s best, maybe they need to know the inconvenient truth: according to the world’s leading renewable energy insurance underwriter, every year on average there are 3,800 incidents of blade failure, 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure, and 50 turbine fires—each with an average claims cost of $4.5 million. See attached May 23, 2017 article.
“Conservatives realize that if Ohio wants to attract businesses such as Amazon and Facebook, renewable energy is key”
And both under current Ohio law and HB 114, Amazon and Facebook are free to buy as much renewable energy as they want. They just want YOUR constituents to pay the premium! Not very conservative. The inconvenient truth: if “renewable energy is key” to Amazon’s business location, then why did Amazon spend over $1 billion to locate in Kentucky—a state with NO MANDATES and NO WIND FARMS?
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to give me a call. Even if the poll is correct, it only proves that the path we are taking is consistent with what true conservative energy voters want.
William J. Seitz
In areas where residents are EDUCATED and INFORMED about BigWind, the tides turn. Such is the case in Huron county, where residents have learned, first hand, that the turbines DO create problems for their residents….
2017 may prove to be a turning point for wind energy development in Huron County.
After residents and officials spent several years debating whether or not wind turbines are good for the county, voters turned down additional development in Sherman, Sigel, Sand Beach, Lincoln, Dwight and Bloomfield townships in May.
The referendums for wind energy overlay zones proposed by NextEra Energy Resources and DTE Energy failed in county-zoned municipalities by a 2 to 1 margin…
Huron County ended the year with 472 turbines standing, and still has more of the structures than any county in the state.
There are no current wind development proposals in the county, and there is a moratorium on wind development…
This is a very comprehensive study, investigating individuals from all over the USA, regarding the negative effects of living in the shadow of BigWind…
A six-month GateHouse Media investigation found that wind developers representing some of the world’s biggest energy companies divide communities and disrupt the lives of residents forced to live in the shadow of their industrial wind farms.
Reporters interviewed more than 70 families living near three dozen current or proposed wind farms. They also spoke to 10 state and local lawmakers, read hundreds of pages of public-service-commission records about wind projects, reviewed court filings in seven wind-related lawsuits and inspected lease agreements from at least eight wind farms.
GateHouse Media also identified through public documents and media reports an additional 400 families living near industrial wind turbines that have publicly complained about shadow flicker, noise, health problems and/or misleading statements by wind companies in an effort to solicit land agreements.
The investigation found that companies convince landowners to sign away their property rights for generations based on the promise of potential profits and the minimization of potential problems associated with wind turbines.
Those problems include shadow flicker, loud noises and low-frequency vibrations that have driven dozens of families from their homes. Many of them claim to have suffered serious health issues from the turbines before departing. Some say they’ll never be the same.
The wind industry has known about these issues for years – many of its contracts contain clauses acknowledging these effects – but it denies turbines affect human health, even as complaints mount nationwide.
Landowners often overlook potential problems until it’s too late. Many who sign contracts can’t terminate the agreements, even if they later beg for relief from what they deem intolerable living conditions. Some covenants bar people from suing or even publicly criticizing the projects.
Those who don’t sign agreements can face the same impact of living near wind turbines erected on neighboring properties. But they receive no compensation for the shadow flicker, noises and vibrations…
Wind developers have settled more than a half-dozen such cases nationwide, even while admitting no wrongdoing. Among the companies to settle is Michigan-based Consumers Energy, which owns Lake Winds Energy Park. The Shineldeckers were among several neighbors who sued the company…
Proposed wind projects also have fractured rural communities across America, pitting neighbor against neighbor in fights over property rights and money.
Many worry about the impact these turbines will have on their homes – some families interviewed have moved out of their houses after wind farms started operating; others have stayed but suffer from shadow flicker, noises and vibrations.
Elected officials tasked with voting on these developments have, in many cases, signed their own contracts with the wind companies, raising concerns about conflicts of interest.
Among the investigation’s findings:
• Despite a growing chorus of complaints, the wind industry has expanded largely unopposed. Ten years ago, less than 300 industrial wind farms dotted the U.S. landscape. Today, more than 1,000 exist. Much of the growth has been funded by American taxpayers. Billions of dollars in state and federal incentives have made wind farms so profitable that companies are racing to develop them before the handouts disappear.
• Industrial wind turbines generate countless complaints nationwide about sleep disturbances, migraines, nausea, ear pressure, blurred vision, tinnitus and heart palpitations. Rampant reports about such effects from the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin, prompted the local Board of Health to declare the turbines a human health hazard.
• Wind industry officials have denounced people who complain about these symptoms, calling them misinformed or “anti-wind.” Some wind companies offer money or other concessions to frequent complainers, often in exchange for silence and a waiver for turbine-related claims. “I call it a shut-up clause,” said Jim Miller of South Dakota, who refused to sign such an agreement with Florida-based NextEra.
• Wind developers have used what some landowners describe as misleading tactics to get their contracts signed. Attorneys asked to review several such contracts called them one-sided, giving wind companies sweeping control over people’s property with few rights for the landowner.
• Wind farms have divided communities across America. Contracted landowners eyeing profits spar with neighbors opposing turbines near their backyards. Lifelong friendships can end. Families sometimes fray. Hopkinton, New York, resident Janice Pease said she stopped talking to relatives who support a proposed wind farm in their town. Pease adamantly opposes it.
WIND INDUSTRY DENIES CLAIMS
GateHouse Media reached out to seven wind energy companies, including some of the nation’s largest, and two nonprofit groups that support the wind industry. Those representatives denied almost all of the investigation’s findings.
Every wind industry official interviewed said that relatively few people complain about wind turbines compared to the thousands of Americans living peacefully among the structures.
“We have 1,300 turbines in operation across the United States,” said Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee. Except for one wind farm in Wisconsin, “we don’t see these types of complaints at our other turbines.”
Many of the people who do complain, several representatives said, are well-known among industry insiders and comprise a small but vocal group of anti-wind activists…
When asked about the studies that do establish a link, those same wind officials disputed the validity of those papers and the credentials of the researchers…
People might be annoyed by wind turbines, several wind representatives said. But they’re not getting sick from them…
Rather than divide communities, they said their projects improve the lives of all residents. Some towns hold festivals commemorating their wind farms. Enyo Renewable Energy Principal Christine Mikell mentioned the Wind Fest in Spanish Fork, Utah, which hosts a nine-turbine wind farm.
“We have hundreds of landowners who are pleased to have us come to their communities,” said Bryan Garner of Florida-based NextEnergy Resources, the biggest wind energy producer in America with more than 100 wind farms…
Communities can also benefit financially from wind farms. The construction of these multi-million-dollar projects employs hundreds of temporary workers and adds new, taxable revenue to local and state coffers…
FORCED TO MOVE
As the wind industry continues to expand, so do its critics.
Hundreds of residents nationwide have claimed industrial wind turbines make them sick. Several families say the structures have forced them from their homes…
“People don’t give up their homes for no reason,” Ed Hobart said, responding to claims the symptoms were all in his head. “It had financial and emotional and health impacts on me and my wife that we will never be fully recovered from.”…
When the sun passes behind those blades, it creates a strobe-like phenomenon called shadow flicker that can disorient and nauseate those forced to live with it….
But even as complaints mount across the nation, the wind industry steadfastly denies turbines impact human health.
“We are aware of some of the cases where individuals come to believe that wind turbines are the cause of their health concerns, and we feel great sympathy for anyone who is suffering from illness of any kind,” said Dahvi Wilson of Apex Clean Energy, which owns several wind farms nationwide.
But, Wilson said, science doesn’t support their claims. And until it does, the company will continue to build wind farms based on current best practices.
The wind industry frequently cites a 2014 Health Canada study that found no direct association between health problems and wind turbines. The study involved more than 1,200 residents in 18 wind farms.
But the same study also found wind turbines “highly annoy” about one in 10 people, especially those living closest to the structures and those exposed to turbine noises exceeding 35 decibels.
That annoyance is “statistically related” to reports of migraines, tinnitus, dizziness and high blood pressure….
Researchers using low-frequency meters have found a link between wind turbines and “sensations of uneasiness and personal disturbance,” as well as “extreme pressure” and “headache or nausea or dizziness.”
One of the first to do this was Neil Kelley, a now-retired scientist from the National Wind Technology Center in Denver. The U.S. Department of Energy and NASA hired Kelley three decades ago to investigatecomplaints about their wind turbine near Boone, North Carolina.
Kelley and his colleagues determined after extensive testing that “the annoyance was real and not imagined,” the result of acoustic impulses.
Kelley did not return calls for comment.
LIKE MOTION SICKNESS
These acoustic impulses – or low-frequency sound waves – stimulate parts of the inner ear responsible for balance, motion and spatial orientation and that they provoke symptoms similar to motion sickness, some researchers say.
“If you’re sitting still and something is causing the same fluids to move, your brain doesn’t know that it’s a false signal,” said Rick James, an acoustical engineer who has written papers on the subject. “But you open your eyes and say, ‘I’m sitting still, but I feel like I’m moving.’”
The Minnesota Department of Health noted the phenomenon in 2009 paper. It found low-frequency waves cause more problems inside a house than outside because, rather than block the pulsations, the walls amplify them.
Darlene Mueller wept as she described how turbines in the Blue Sky Green Field Wind Energy Center in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, sickened her inside her home…
DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD
But some wind farm residents who spoke out about their problems said the industry belittles them. It dismisses their complaints as unfounded or labels them troublemakers, multiple people said.
It has silenced many of their neighbors whom they said suffer the same symptoms but fear the consequences of speaking out…
After Cary Shineldecker went public about his experience in Michigan’s Lake Winds Energy Park, an energy company executive singled him out at a meeting several states away.
Mike Blazer of Chicago-based Invenergy claimed to know Shineldecker’s medical history. He told a crowd in Clear Lake, South Dakota, that Shineldecker’s health woes stemmed from alcohol use, obstructive sleep apnea and an irregular heartbeat – not wind turbines…
Shineldecker said he was stunned to learn about the incident from an attorney who attended the meeting. He said he has neither sleep apnea nor alcohol problems and never received a diagnosis for those problems.
“All I ever had to go on was my integrity and honesty and work ethic,” Shineldecker said, “and then to be belittled and treated like some whack-job psycho liar is kind of unbelievable.”
Iowa wind farm resident Terry McGovern said he faced disparagement by Apex Clean Energy.
The Virginia-based company accused McGovern of holding “a personal anti-wind agenda” and claimed he would spread misinformation and generate unfounded fear of wind energy ahead of a public presentation he gave.
Apex made the claims in a July 2017 letter it sent to landowners discouraging them from attending the presentation, held near the site of its proposed Upland Prairie Wind farm in northwest Iowa.
McGovern denies holding an anti-wind agenda but is publicly critical of the industry and its business practices. His Iowa Wind Action Group calls for greater setbacks for industrial turbines to protect human health.
“Instead of focusing on the issues, they try to discredit the person,” McGovern said. “That way, they can avoid talking about the facts.”..
Wealthy Chagrin Falls, Ohio Senator Matt Dolan has introduced SB 238, a carbon copy of the Hite setback bill which measures setbacks from homes rather than property lines. In addition, the bill repeals all previous requirements for property line setbacks for any project which received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board under the old rules. It appears that Sen. Dolan and a number of his colleagues drank the Kool-Aid that AWEA and lobbyist Terrence O’Donnell have been serving.
In his press statement, Dolan says “ Local control remains a crucial aspect of this bill as well, by allowing county commissioners to approve construction on a project-by-project basis or declare the entire county an alternative energy zone, which qualifies all projects.” Laughable! Dolan can only be speaking of the PILOT program to grant tax abatement to a project. He asserts that vitally important local control is protected, presumably because county commissioners can deny PILOT. That is no guarantee whatsoever that a project will not go forward and, in fact, EverPower’s Dagger has been quoted more than once saying failure to be granted PILOT is not an impediment to development. The truth is that tax abatement has nothing to do with setbacks…NOTHING.
SB 238 does what its predecessor bill did – grant an uncompensated easement across neighboring properties. We continue to illustrate this point with legislators, a number of whom have never considered this fact. When they understand that Dolan’s bill totally disenfranchises a property owner, stripping them of their rights, they begin to wonder about whether it is possible to find common ground. We believe that common ground lies in giving the electorate in the affected townships the affirmative right to vote on wind turbine setback reductions. Chairman Balderson indicates hearings on the issue will resume after the first of the year.
While members of the General Assembly are home during the holidays, it is a good time to ask for a meeting and inquire about what kind of documentation they may have that supports a 1,225 foot setback from a home. We believe this is an arbitrary number designed to accommodate the wind developer/leaseholders rather than protect the public. One area of science supporting increased setbacks comes from the study of ice throw as well as the throw of other detached objects.
Two papers have come to our attention concerning ice throw. The first is a 2017 Ice Throw Ph.D. Thesis from Texas State University. This was primarily a survey of ice throw knowledge of people around turbines in Texas. 75% of turbine personnel had witnessed an ice throw incident from a wind turbine. Each person who had witnessed seeing ice thrown, reported on average seeing 15 ice throw incidents. This is a 2017 “peer reviewed” current technical publication that completely debunks the idea that turbines don’t throw ice. It reports a multitude of ice throw incidents actually seen by industry personnel. The study is based on Texas turbines, with Texas being the largest wind energy state in the US. The authors also found that most community members do not witness ice throw and therefore do not have an appreciation of the danger.
The second paper is a 2016 Peer-Reviewed Research Paper in the journal “Wind Energy” / Wiley Online Library titled “Analysis of throw distances of detached objects from horizontal-axis wind turbines”, Hamid Sarlak and Jens N. Sorensen. Wind Energy, 2016: 19:151-166. This document can be purchased online by going to http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/we.1828/full. The paper is protected by copyright and anyone who chooses to purchase it should explore obtaining permission to use it. The authors of this study estimate throw distances for ice, full blades, and blade fragments for current typical turbine designs, operating at normal and high rotational speeds. Consideration is given to normal operating speeds of a typical 500′ turbine with 100 m/sec tip speed (very similar to a Vestas V112). A full rotor blade can be thrown 2,000 feet, a partial blade shell 3,300 feet, and typical ice pieces 2,600 feet. For larger turbines, full blade and blade fragments could possibly be thrown over 6,000 feet.
Perhaps our dear Senators would like to share the research upon which they are relying. Our guess is they have been given outdated information, if any. As we understand it, turbines don’t just fall over, the spinning blades can propel ice, debris, or blade fragments for very large distances. The Sarlak and Sorensen Wind Energy paper concludes that throw distances are determined primarily by the tip speed, not height. Tip speeds have been increasing, especially as the industry has moved to variable speed turbines….Wake up Ohioans and speak up now, or you may regret your silence later…
Dolan Takes Up Effort to Revise Wind Turbine Setback Restrictions
Sen. Matt Dolan is picking up the effort to loosen wind turbine setback requirements left unfinished after the abrupt resignation of former senator Cliff Hite.
Mr. Hite was the legislature’s leading proponent of easing the restrictions and authored a bill to that effect SB 188 that received two legislative hearings this year. But when Mr. Hite resigned Oct. 17 following sexual harassment allegations, wind groups lost a key ally and the future of the bill fell into question.
On Wednesday, Sen. Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) introduced his own bill SB 238, which is identical to Sen. Hite’s, in an attempt to get the effort back on track…
Sen. Dolan said he made the bill identical so everyone can start on the same page. That means the bill calls for increasing the setback to 1.2 times the blade’s length – up from the current 1.1 times – while at the same time requiring the minimum distance from the nearest blade to be measured from the nearest residential structure rather than the nearest property line. The net impact of those two changes is a shortening of the required setback distance.
In modeling the legislation after the same bill, he said, all prior testimony received on the Hite proposal will still apply to the new bill, thereby speeding up the legislative process. The bill is likely to be assigned to the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which conducted hearings on the Hite bill…
The sponsor said he is eying some changes, particularly in making it clearer that county commissioners have the authority to grant approval for a wind farm project. “I feel there’s a misunderstanding of what the setbacks actually do,” Sen. Dolan said. “It doesn’t interfere with the ability of the county to say yes or no to a project.”
The bill has the same cosponsors as the prior iteration – 13 Republicans and one Democrat…
“To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. The making of laws like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight.” Otto Von Bismark
This coming week will be a nail-biter as Congress seeks to move tax reform forward. There are too many possible scenarios to predict the outcome. The House version of tax reform would cripple the wind industry and the Senate version would maintain the status quo and continue the phase-out of the PTC. Conventional wisdom was that the Senate bill would be the bill that would move forward until the Senate put the Obamacare mandate repeal and the elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes in their version. If these costs were no longer an obligation of the federal government, the savings could offset the cost of continuing the PTC for wind and other special interest subsidies. But if these items are removed from the Senate bill, Congress will need to find other ways to save money. Eliminating the PTC or the PTC annual inflation adjustment would be one place to look for $. Senator Grassley will do everything in his power to preserve subsidies for wind. There is much wheeling and dealing going on and just this past week Grassley made a very surprising move to discard some rules that have impeded Trump’s judicial nominations from going forward. This is a huge gift to Trump and ensures his nominees will be approved quickly, thus changing the nature of the federal bench for years and years to come. Having received such a fine gift from Grassley, we don’t think Trump will push to kill off the wind industry.
At the state level, Senate President Obhof, who has been a behind the scenes supporter of industrial wind, is urging the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to move forward on a priority basis to consider HB 114 which deals with the renewable energy mandate and energy efficiency requirements. Sounds fishy to us. The fate of former Senator Hite’s setback legislation is still unclear. It is possible that the setback language could be offered as an amendment to HB 114. Rumor was that Senate leadership under Obhof had ordered the Senate Finance Committee to approve setback reductions in the budget bill.
We note both Ohio House and Senate members have written letters of support for the development of industrial wind in Lake Erie. It is probably safe to assume they have no idea what they are talking about.
Other Ohio Senators are busy supporting wind indirectly by asking the PUCO to approve a deal between Amazon’s data centers (Vadata) and AEP for a 120 month discount on their cost of electricity. WHAT?
Sen. Kevin Bacon (R-Minerva Park) and Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) wrote the Public Utilities Committee requesting approval of a deal between an Amazon affiliate Vadata and AEP Ohio. Vadata has argued the move would be an “incentive for the growth of data centers in Ohio, driving unique and highly desirable economic development in Ohio.” According to media reports, the senators argued in favor of the move in a letter sent to Chairman Asim Haque earlier this year that was published in the case docket this month. They touted the economic impact Amazon’s three existing data centers have had on the region, including hundreds of millions of dollars of investment and the creation of new jobs. Electricity, they argued, is one of the highest operating costs for these centers.” “This reasonable arrangement will enhance Ohio’s competitiveness and accelerate data center investments,” the senators wrote. Through such a deal “the state of Ohio can help keep Vadata’s energy costs in check without a need to raise rates or cause an impact for other energy users.”
If Amazon gets a break on its electricity costs, Ohioans are likely to see increased pressure to build wind farms in Ohio. It is sickening.
Next door in Indiana, Fulton County residents scored a huge victory over wind developer RES which is planning a three county project. We congratulate the people of Fulton County on a credible and persuasive campaign that enabled the Commissioners to make the right decision against RES. One Commissioner was quoted saying “Although the monetary gain could be big, money is not the most important factor to consider. Quality of life is,” he said. “I feel if I vote in favor of the current ordinance before us we may jeopardize the community.” Lewis also spoke about a common response he would receive when questioning those that do not live in or near RES’ proposed project area. “They say they don’t mind it but wouldn’t want to live by it,” he said, adding “If people don’t mind them but wouldn’t want to live by them, then why would I want to impose something on the people that very few would want to live close to.” He concluded by saying that a commercial wind farm in Fulton County is “not something that the good people of this county want,” and encouraged those in attendance to come together as a community with solutions “to help move us forward with projects the people, as a whole, can get behind.”
We note that In the Indiana RES project, planned for three counties, one Commissioner each in Fulton and in Miami county were required to recuse themselves from the vote. In Miami, the Commissioner has actually been contracted by RES to negotiate leases for them. This is appalling and should be a warning to any community where RES may be planning a project to watch closely how they may try to establish connections with elected officials.
As we enter the holiday season, we encourage readers who are dealing with a prospective wind development in your community to regularly check with the Ohio Power Siting Board website. Wind developers often count on people being distracted during the holidays and we see an increase in filings and activity…