BigWind fire grows to 5 acres. Ohio farmers concerned?

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Let us remind our legislators of their decisions to shorten the Ohio BigWind setbacks….This turbine fire required 8 fire engines and grew to 5 acres. What if a field of crops was beneath this turbine? What if the setback was significantly shortened and a home was close? Kids? There is absolutely NO logic to shortening our setbacks, but there is a LOT of greed…BigWind wants more tax $$$$$$….

A wind turbine caught fire, causing a grass fire Wednesday in western Oklahoma…

The sparks caused a grass fire that was contained after growing to approximately five acres. Eight fire engines responded to the scene and were able to contain the fire.

BigWind Oklahoma fire

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4 windy states pull the rug out from under BigWind

It is time for BigWind to stand on its own 2 feet! Last week was a sad week for renewables. The four leading US wind states, Oklahoma, California, Texas and Iowa are all cutting back on subsidies for wind.  “The wind industry feels betrayed.” The Oklahoma Gov. wants to go a step further an impose a tax on wind while in Texas there is movement to get rid of 10 year PILOT payment/tax abatement programs. California’s issues concern land use because no one wants the turbines near them.  In Iowa, transmission needed to carry the power out of the state is facing regulatory hurdles.   The wind industry is doing their expected “woe is me” theatrics while “Industry opponents call such talk largely hot air, arguing that the federal $24/MWh production tax credit will enable developers to continue generating healthy profits for years to come as all projects under construction and many of those in their pipelines will have qualified for it. They contend that Oklahoma will continue to lure investment because of its world-class wind resource and lower corporate tax burden compared with many states.  The windies are blaming the oil and gas industry lobbyists for their “problems’. Will Ohio politicians pay attention to these realities and PROTECT our citizens from these problems? Don’t expect Ohio Senator Hite to care about these truths.  He supports BigWind, irregardless of the facts. Wave some cash in his district and he goes blind to the truth.  If you reside near him, would you please educate?…

A stinging political setback in Oklahoma and problems brewing elsewhere could short-circuit future wind industry growth, writes Richard A Kessler in Fort Worth…

10 May 2017

Back in November, the US wind sector could never have imagined that four of its leading wind states would be a greater source of industry uncertainty than President Donald Trump.

Events in Oklahoma have raised concerns over states’ readiness to continue subsidy support in an era of budget cutbacks and fiscal constraints, while potential trouble is also brewing in California, Iowa and Texas, suggesting that the industry’s ability to lobby effectively on crucial issues will soon be put to the test.

In March and April, by an overwhelming margin, Oklahoma’s Republican-dominated Senate and House voted to roll back the remaining state tax incentive for wind energy to 1 July, breaking an earlier pledge to preserve it until the end of 2020. It was signed into law by Republican Governor Mary Fallin on 17 April.

The wind industry feels betrayed. “Changing the investment rules in the middle of the game sends a message to every investor in America that Oklahoma can’t be expected to honor its economic development commitments,” says Jeff Clark, executive director of regional advocacy group The Wind Coalition.

Facing large budget shortfalls, Republican Governor Mary Fallin is in no mood to debate the issue, saying the sector was “incentivized sufficiently to now be a major player in the Oklahoma energy industry”. She also wants to also slap a $5/MWh tax on wind energy production — five times what Wyoming collects, the only other state to do so….

In neighbouring Texas, the leading wind state, the industry is under attack from lawmakers who want to limit or prohibit counties and school districts from using a popular ten-year property tax abatement scheme known as Chapter 313 to attract new wind projects…

Meanwhile, in California, zoning boards and other regulatory bodies are, for various reasons, restricting land use so much that wind activity has slowed to a crawl.  The number-four wind state did not install a single megawatt in 2016 and had only 131MW under construction this year.

Analysts warn that if this trend continues, California could have to import 80% of the estimated 10GW of new wind capacity it may need to meet a 50% renewables mandate by 2030.

And in Iowa, the second-ranking wind state, merchant transmission developer Clean Line Energy Partners is struggling to obtain necessary regulatory approvals for its $2bn Rock Island project that it says would lead to $7bn in new wind farm investments…

Without it, the industry will not be able to continue all its planned massive wind expansion there, as future supply will exceed domestic needs. Iowa already generates more of its electricity from wind power — 36.6% in 2016 — than any state.

Lessons from Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s early sunset of the $5/MWh Zero-Emissions Facilities Tax Credit is particularly troubling for the wind industry, as it represented a high-profile political setback in one of its fastest-growing markets. The move will also be financially painful for developers.

“This is the type of thing the industry doesn’t want to have happen. It sets a precedent and empowers other states to pursue similar legislation,” says Luke Lewandowski, research manager at MAKE Consulting…

The independent, non-partisan think tank estimates this would be an increase from an estimated $460.5m year earlier — a huge chunk of lost revenue considering the entire state budget is less than $7bn. By comparison, latest official data shows wind energy producers claimed $59.7m in zero-emission credits and $29.6m in for an exemption on local property taxes in the 2016-17 financial year. Wind investment in Oklahoma over the last decade exceeds $12bn…

Oklahoma wind developers currently use the zero-emission incentive to reduce their tax liability during the initial decade a wind farm generates power. Unused credits are also refundable in cash for 85% of face value. So developers stand to lose millions of dollars if they cannot bring under-construction projects into operation by 1 July…

Industry opponents call such talk largely hot air, arguing that the federal $24/MWh production tax credit will enable developers to continue generating healthy profits for years to come as all projects under construction and many of those in their pipelines will have qualified for it. They contend that Oklahoma will continue to lure investment because of its world-class wind resource and lower corporate tax burden compared with many states.

Byron Schlomach, director of the 1889 Institute, a public policy group in the state capital that favours limited government, disputes the notion that Oklahoma is turning against the wind industry or engaging in discrimination. He says the industry no longer needs incentives as the state did what it could to help it grow. Oklahoma also met its voluntary 15% renewables mandate by 2015.

“I think everybody feels like we’ve done our part,” he says. “We’ve done enough for them at this point and they need to stand on their own two feet.”…

 

 

Source: The coming threat from US wind states | Recharge

BigWind Wars across Ohio and around the world

Another flurry of activity at home and around the globe.   New turbine models were introduced by Senvion at 3 and 3.2 MW, to be built in the U.S. and designed to penetrate low wind communities.   Meanwhile, in Germany 71% of Danish wind imports are being rejected because the accompanying transmission lines are thought to degrade the landscape.   In the U.K., EverPower’s owner and Terra Firma Chairman, Guy Hands, was dumping money into the upcoming elections in order to defeat the Tories who adopted a “Manifesto”  that “states that the Conservatives will “halt the spread of onshore wind farms”, arguing that while onshore wind now makes a “meaningful contribution to our energy mix to our energy mix”, wind farms “often fail to win public support” and are “unable by themselves to provide the firm capacity that a stable energy system requires”.

 

Closer to home, the late Sam Walton’s brother-in-law, Frank Robson, has taken on the wind industry in Oklahoma after learning of plans for a development near his property.   “His efforts to push back against wind energy developments in Oklahoma led him to hire lobbyists. One firm hired, FKG Consulting, is the largest lobbying firm in the state. FKG Consulting supplied Robson with a small army of consultants including a pollster, and devised a strategy that has transformed Robson’s image from angry wealthy landowner to tax consumer advocate. Robson’s consultants transformed his message by halting the NIMBY talk, and devised a plan to go after tax incentives that support wind; a cause polling showed would be more compelling to the public. Robson has also hired a local marketing expert, who then started a group called “Wind Waste,” to pull the incentives that wind energy receives in the state out of context.”

On the Indiana/Ohio border, EDP Renewables is exploring a wind initiative in one, two or three counties: Wayne, Randolph and Henry. “It could be that we would build one in each county or one that straddles all three counties,” said EDP project manager Jeffrey Nemeth. “We just don’t know at this point. We are in the very, very early stages of development, and there’s a lot of studying to do.”  “Nemeth said initial plans in this area are to build a wind farm that includes 100 turbines and produces 200 megawatts, which is the same size as the current farm in Randolph County.”   The likely purchaser of the wind energy would be AEP.

In Ohio,  new PUCO Chairman Andre Porter  took office yesterday pledging “”I cannot stress that enough – how important it is that we do things in a way that everyone feels as if they’re being treated fairly. That means that no one gets special treatment. There is going to be a level playing field here at this commission,” he said.”    Ohio’s rural community hopes they will at last see fair treatment.  Porter could start by adhering to the laws and regulations governing the siting of wind turbines.

 

Speaking of those laws and regulations, the environmental left continued its Clean Energy Tour through Dayton trying to rally the troops to support reinstatement of the renewable mandates and repeal of the new property line setbacks.    In a  recent news story, Iberdrola’s Eric Thumma made some amazing statements.  Thumma said he would urge lawmakers to rescind or reconsider Ohio House Bill 483, which tripled property line setbacks for turbines on commercial wind farms. As a practical matter, the law rules out any new commercial wind farms that don’t already have permits, he said. No public hearings were held on that last-minute change before the bill passed last year. In the less than ten minutes of debate on it, Seitz railed against noise and other aspects of wind energy. “We’d like to see legislation that is obviously protective of the areas in which we’re developing, but also allows us to economically develop wind farms,” Thumma said. “What I always ask people to do is come have a conversation with me,” Thumma added. “We’ll stand under an operating wind turbine, and we can talk at the same level that we’re talking right now.”   WOW!  Thumma is trying to conflate inaudible emissions with audible emissions while ignoring all laws of physics surrounding noise propagation.  Standing under a turbine to have a conversation is not something anyone would say in 2015 unless they think the audience is incredibly stupid.

 

We enjoyed Senator’s Seitz reply to subject of the mandates that now must be considered in the context of the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan.  ““The issue is not whether you’re for or against having the wind blow or the sun shine or the possibilities of using that as a power source,” Seitz said. “The issue rather is should utilities be mandated to buy that fuel, and should ratepayers be mandated to pay for it? Or should ratepayers have some choice in the matter? That’s really the issue. It’s been the issue all along.” “That’s the issue to me and to many others on this committee,” Seitz said. “And that issue has been compounded by the looming omnipresence of this ridiculous U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan.” The Clean Power Plan “threatens to impose new mandates on top of whatever state mandates there are,” Seitz said. “Why should we continue marching up State Mandate Mountain when there are new federal mandates on the horizon?”  

  

Last but not least, the bat issues are still mired in debate while UNU and the Indiana University Conservation Law Center decide whether or not to file an appeal to the EverPower bat mitigation plan. There is a great deal going on in this world and we appreciate everyone who has stuck with us and continued to educate themselves and their community. Thank you….   

While an Ohio energy study committee is tasked by law to look broadly at both the costs and benefits of the state’s clean energy standards, advocates say most of the group’s focus so far has been on factors against them.

“The committee has stated that they are coming at this with an open mind, and I continue to give them the benefit of the doubt,” said Rob Kelter of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

However, Kelter added, last month’s meeting of Ohio’s Energy Mandates Study Committee was “disconcerting.”

Lawmakers at that meeting focused primarily on perceived weaknesses of wind and solar energy, without considering the benefits of either renewable energy or energy efficiency….

Most of the time lawmakers spent asking questions focused on those discounts and ignored the primary value of renewable energy, say advocates.

“Wind is not necessarily a capacity resource,” said Dan Sawmiller of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal program. “It’s an energy resource.”

The capacity auction aims “to make sure that when there’s a peak period of demand, there is either enough generation or enough demand response or other energy efficiency resources to be able to make sure that the grid is in balance,” said Eric Thumma at Iberdrola Renewables, whose projects include the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in northwest Ohio.

“That’s a different product from energy, which is just the megawatt hours that are delivered to the grid from resources,” Thumma continued. “That’s really the product that wind and solar provide. They’re energy resources.”

“Capacity factors by themselves are not that critical,” Sawmiller said. “Consumers are more concerned with the total cost of producing the reliable electricity that they demand, not the capacity factor of a particular resource.”…

“The issue is not whether you’re for or against having the wind blow or the sun shine or the possibilities of using that as a power source,” Seitz said. “The issue rather is should utilities be mandated to buy that fuel, and should ratepayers be mandated to pay for it? Or should ratepayers have some choice in the matter? That’s really the issue. It’s been the issue all along.”

“That’s the issue to me and to many others on this committee,” Seitz said. “And that issue has been compounded by the looming omnipresence of this ridiculous U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan.”

The Clean Power Plan “threatens to impose new mandates on top of whatever state mandates there are,” Seitz said. “Why should we continue marching up State Mandate Mountain when there are new federal mandates on the horizon?”

Energy efficiency standards in Ohio and elsewhere “are totally cost-effective and save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars,” stressed Kushler.

“Even if EPA disappeared tomorrow, it would still be in the best interests of Ohio to do energy efficiency programs,” Kushler continued. “Energy efficiency is still cheaper than supplying and operating those generating plants and paying for their replacements” when they eventually get too old.

Thumma said he would urge lawmakers to rescind or reconsider Ohio House Bill 483, which tripled property line setbacks for turbines on commercial wind farms. As a practical matter, the law rules out any new commercial wind farms that don’t already have permits, he said.

No public hearings were held on that last-minute change before the bill passed last year. In the less than ten minutes of debate on it, Seitz railed against noise and other aspects of wind energy.

“We’d like to see legislation that is obviously protective of the areas in which we’re developing, but also allows us to economically develop wind farms,” Thumma said.

“What I always ask people to do is come have a conversation with me,” Thumma added. “We’ll stand under an operating wind turbine, and we can talk at the same level that we’re talking right now.”…

Advocates hope Ohio energy committee will broaden focus | Midwest Energy News.

additional references from above, please copy/paste:

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2015/04/15/porter-sworn-in-as-puco-chairman.html

http://www.ohioenergyfuturetour.com

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2403945/tory-manifesto-vows-to-halt-the-spread-of-onshore-windfarms/page/2

http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2015/04/08/bat-listings-impact-on-wind-industry-yet-to-be-determined/