Isn’t our government supposed to be BY and FOR the people? Then why is it that the people, of Ohio, have a government board, the OPSB (Say Yes to BigWind Board) which is allowed to APPROVE BigWind projects Looooonnnnng before Ohio citizens know anything about it? Case in point is below. Land was leased 10 years ago, for a BigWind project, yet the first public informational meeting was not held until 2018!?! This is outrageous. Ohio citizens have the right to have the light shown on these deceptive, unethical practices of BigWind…..
It’s good to see public discussion of wind power. A recent opinion piece praised the elimination from House Bill 6 of a proposed referendum that would give residents affected by the installation of wind turbines a voice in the project.
The project slated for Erie and Huron counties impacts the following townships: Groton, Oxford, Lyme, Ridgefield, Sherman, Norwich and Richmond. Townships were an ideal choice for this project’s location because, absent a referendum, the residents have no direct voice in the matter.
Most residents want a referendum, and the time for one is critical. I agree that a referendum should not be held after a project receives certification from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). The time for both a referendum and a public meeting is when leases are offered to landowners. Although land for the Emerson Creek Wind Project was leased as long ago as 2009, the first public information meeting required by the OPSB was nine years later in November 2018….
Information about the cost and financial backing of this project is not available. When I asked the Power Siting Board about that, public spokesman Matt Butler replied, “It is not uncommon for an applicant to request confidential treatment of financial data, as APEX has done in this case.” A number of published sources state that without tax benefits and outright subsidies, no company would be involved in building a wind project.
The issues are serious. These turbines are 655 tall…
It has been a momentous week in many ways. Seneca Wind developer, sPower, officially withdrew its application and the OPSB granted the withdrawal on August 15th. But this is not the first time this ill-fated project has been withdrawn. In a previous incarnation, Seneca Wind was owned by Exelon who filed a pre-application notice in 2016 and then withdrew in 2017. Exelon sold to sPower in 2017 and sPower filed a new application at that time. Many are wondering if history will repeat itself and sPower will sell the project to a different developer like Apex.
As proposed, the Seneca Wind project was to have a total nameplate capacity of 212 megawatts and consist of up to 77 wind turbines, access roads, electrical collector cables, laydown yards, an operations and maintenance facility, meteorological towers, a substation, and a 138-kilovolt (kV) electric generation transmission line to connect to AEP Ohio Transmission Company Inc.’s existing Melmore Substation. The OPSB entry granting the withdrawal notes in a footnote that the 138-kV transmission line will be the subject of a separate filing with the Board. Hmmm. That looks suspicious to us.
In its entry, the OPSB describes the project as consisting of approximately 56,900 acres of leased land in Seneca County, consisting primarily of existing farmland. This, to us, is another problem for the future. In defining the area, one might agree that, on an acre by acre basis, farmland is the predominant land-use compared to acreage upon which a home sits. But is it fair to describe a rural-residential area as farmland? It appears to us that the description used by OPSB without further detail, is misleading and unfair to the community whose opposed the project on the basis of population density. That would be people – not livestock.
Transmission is a key aspect that communities should not ignore. The OPSB lists two transmission projects in the pre-application stage: 19-1073-EL-BTX for Emerson Creek in Huron and Erie Counties as well as 19-1066-EL-BTX for Republic Wind in Seneca County. The Emerson Creek transmission line will be a 345 kV overhead line that will be approximately 9 miles long. The Republic Wind line is planned to be an approximately 7-8 mile line located in Seneca County, Ohio and is needed to connect the proposed Republic Wind electric generation project to the electric grid. It does not appear that public hearings on these projects have been held.
Happily, the Erie County, Groton Township Trustees submitted a Resolution to the OPSB opposing the Apex Emerson Creek project. They join Oxford Township which is also on record opposing Emerson Creek. Norwich Township has filed for intervenor status. Moreover, the Seneca County Commissioners amended their previous Resolution dissolving the Alternative Energy Zone designation and added language that includes: “The Seneca County Commissioners withdraw all previous support of the Seneca Wind, Republic Wind or any proposed wind turbine projects to the maximum extent allowed by law.
According to reports we have received, Lake Erie’s LeedCo Icebreaker project attorneys have tried to bar testimony from Dr. Jeffrey Gosse who recently retired from a thirty+ year career with US Fish & Wildlife serving as our USFWS Region’s Energy Coordinator. In his testimony Gosse states “I have substantial professional experience and expertise in conducting avian radar and bat acoustic studies.” DrJGosse The testimony makes the point that:
“The Current Record and the Pre-Filed Testimony do not present any indication that Icebreaker has identified a specific technology that it proposes to use for pre- or postconstruction radar monitoring for birds and bats, or for post-construction collision detection for birds and bats, much less that Icebreaker has performed any validation testing of any such proposed technologies and presented the testing results to the Board. As a result, there is no basis for the Board to make findings and determinations as to the probable environmental impact of the Project on birds and bats as required by R.C. 4906.1 0(A)(2), or that the Project represents the minimum adverse environmental impact to birds and bats as required by R.C. 4906.1 0(A)(3). “
At the same time, we learn the US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it is considering Endangered Species Act protections for the lake sturgeon. This should also support opposition to building wind turbines in Lake Erie.
We also attach today a copy of a lengthy article entitled Inconvenient Energy Realities. It is a “must read” for all wind and solar warriors as well as government officials. “Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.” Inconvenient Energy Realities
Seneca County Commissioners voted 2-1, this week, to “withdraw all previous support of the Seneca Wind and Republic Wind or any proposed wind turbine projects to the maximum extent allowed by law.”
It is a great day to celebrate our fellow warriors in Seneca County. sPower, the Seneca Wind developer, had filed a motion for an extension of the OPSB proceedings after an error in the FAA No Hazard Determination was discovered. Opponents of the project objected and the developer threatened to withdraw if their motion for extension was not approved. Notwithstanding, the OPSB denied the motion and very shortly thereafter, the Seneca Wind submitted its Motion to Withdrawreserving the right to re-apply. The Adjudicatory Hearing was scheduled for August 26 and will now be cancelled. The developer vows to refile the application after FAA concerns are resolved. But for now, it is a happy day for many people.
Does lightning strike twice? Maybe so with the FAA No Hazard Determination in Seneca County. The issue there was the developer’s misidentification of the community where the turbines would be built. By not naming the correct community, the locals did not understand or catch the filing. Just a few short weeks ago, a similar issue arose in Indiana where a developer sought FAA approval for 178 turbines (499’) in Warren County but indicated they were in “Boswell” . Boswell is in Benton Countybut the project was actually planned for Warren County. Warren County Commissions were told that the FAA establishes the name of the turbine location community rather than the wind developer but the FAA has strenuously denied this. Some think it is just the latest tactic of the wind developers to “fly under the radar” so to speak and sew confusion. Good grief.
The incident reporting rule-making process is underway at the OPSB (http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=19-0778) where vigorous objections have been raised by the wind industry with respect to Incident Reporting for blade shear, turbine collapse and the like. The developers act like reporting failures is a novel and extreme idea. Not so in Minnesota where a reporting regime has been in place for some time. Lisa Linowes reports that Minnesota already requires incident reporting and other details for all wind projects approved by the state. It is believed the reporting is annually but could be more frequent. The MN Department of Commerce confirms the information gathered on the report is used during evaluation of projects that come back before the state for a new permit or expansion of a project.
Many of you will recall that three Paulding County residents were joined by the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC) in challenging the property line setback rule which was adopted by the Ohio General Assembly in 2014 in the Mid-Biennial Budget Review. The Plaintiffs alleged the setback was adopted unconstitutionally because budget bills should not include non-budget items. The case has been winding its way through court and on August 7th, the Paulding County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the case as having no merit. We always thought the lawsuit was a ‘Hail Mary’ pass with little chance of succeeding. Notwithstanding, we should now always be on the lookout for the wind lobby to shove their own setback proposals into a budget bill.
In Michigan, the Traverse City Film Festival debuted Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Planet of the Humans”. “Director Jeff Gibbs takes on electric cars, solar panels, windmills, biomass, biofuel, leading environmentalist groups like the Sierra Club, and even figures from Al Gore and Van Jones, who served as Barack Obama’s special adviser for green jobs, to 350.org leader Bill McKibben, a leading environmentalist and advocate for grassroots climate change movements.” In Planet of the Humans, Gibbs aims harsh criticism at supposed environmental stewards, including the Sierra Club. He says they’ve been bought off by corporate interests that have realized there’s lots of money to be made in green energy. “Environmental groups have been collaborating on the lie of growth by helping us pretend that there will be ‘green growth.’ As if you can have wealth or stuff that doesn’t destroy the planet. News flash: that’s an impossibility of physics and biology,” the director tells me. “There is nothing you will ever have in your life that’s not an extraction from the planet earth. And so we’ve all lost touch with that.” Well, well, well……who’d a thought? MMoore link
Let us repeat this line “There is nothing you will ever have in your life that’s not an extraction from the planet earth.” The Wall Street Journal ran a column this week to help us understand a little about that “extraction” when it comes to wind turbines. Entitled “If You Want ‘Renewable Energy,’ Get Ready to Dig”. The facts laid out in the article are astonishing. An example: “A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet. The alternative? Use gasoline and extract one-tenth as much total tonnage to deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery’s seven-year life. When electricity comes from wind or solar machines, every unit of energy produced, or mile traveled, requires far more materials and land than fossil fuels. That physical reality is literally visible: A wind or solar farm stretching to the horizon can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each no bigger than a tractor-trailer.” Michael Moore meets the Wall Street Journal! The BigWind DIG
Warriors working to save Lake Erie from industrial wind development should keep an eye on activities surrounding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This provision, in law since 1918, prohibits the taking of migratory birds whether it be intentional or unintentional. In 2013, a $1 million fine was levied against Duke Energy, after Duke was held responsible for raptor deaths at a Wyoming wind farm. Many people believe the Icebreaker Project in Lake Erie will destroy migrating birds in contravention of the law. But in 2017 the Trump Administration decided to “re-interpret” the MBTA and allow unintended kills. Such an interpretation would green light Icebreaker unless the Ohio Department of Natural Resources withholds approval of the project. “On June 13th of this year, the US House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held a hearing to consider several new pieces of legislation. Included was a discussion of the Migratory Bird Protection Act of 2019, a draft bill that explicitly includes a prohibition against unintentional take; defined as “the killing or taking of migratory birds that directly and foreseeably results from, but is not the intended purpose of, covered commercial activity.” Enactment would supersede the Administration’s 2017 re-interpretation.” This is an important step toward the protection of birds travelling across Lake Erie. Bird Blenders in the Sky
Topping off the week’s news, a major power failure on Friday in the U.K. left rush hour commuters stranded and plunged London into darkness and chaos. It is believed that two generators failed at the same time. One was gas and the other a large offshore wind facility. We will follow up and report as more is learned….
The Ohio Chamber recently provided testimony to the Ohio Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on HB-6 and their representative referred to the provision allowing a local referendum on wind projects as a “dangerous precedent”.Who else is drinking the BigWind KoolAid now???
Excerpt from their testimony: “Finally, there is one provision of HB 6 that must be removed, due to its likely detrimental impact on economic development. Currently, the bill permits a local referendum on wind energy projects after they’ve received Ohio Power Siting Board certification – and even after construction has begun. No other generation source is subject to a similar public referendum, and such a requirement would kill almost every wind project moving forward in the state. This represents a dangerous precedent and reverses the regulatory certainty developers and investors rely on to make business decisions and investments in Ohio.”
Since when is allowing people a voice in what drastically alters their communities a “dangerous precedent”? This is very unfortunate and NEEDS to be corrected immediately. We have quite group of people that are VERY UPSETwith the Chamber’s stance on this and expect a formal response from the Chamber to clarify why you are taking a stand with big business and trampling on the rural citizens of Ohio!- Mr. Andy Doehrel’s Email:firstname.lastname@example.org“
Why is experience so valuable? One reason is that it should make us wise to avoid mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, our elected legislators choose to heed the advice of slick salespeople, rather than seek the experience and wisdom of the people who elected them into office. Readbelow, about the wise experiences of Iowa with BigWind. Learn from their mistakes and try to educate others…..
230 government entities in the US alone have banned or blocked industrial wind turbines at the urging of their constituents. Hundreds of homes are directly affected by every large industrial wind installation. These installations cast a long list of negative impacts for 2640 feet, at least that is the distance the wind companies will admit, yet they require county ordinances allow them setbacks from the foundation of homes to be merely 1200-1600 feet.
On average only 10% of the residents (page 32) who live in any large proposed wind installation will actively participate in the project even though all residents are offered money and hold-harmless contracts from the wind energy development company. The list of negative impacts in these contracts are blighted views, flashing FAA warning lights, turbines causing or emitting noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, shadow strobing (flicker) and electronic signal interference. These contracts if accepted by residents also require the resident give an easement over their entire property and waive the right to a jury trial for future problems. This is hardly worth the couple of dollars a day offered to residents.
What do these contracts mean by “vibration, air turbulence and wake”? The turbines must be set far enough apart so they do not impact each other. The homes in between also receive those impacts- often causing residents to feel ill or uneasy. The contracts say both “to cause and emit noise”. The turbine generators noise emissions are rated at 110-115 dBA – same as the front seat of a rock concert. The companies ask to be allowed a dBA of 50-55 at neighboring homes. These limits are not monitored or enforced. The movement of the blades can cause noise much like a bullroarer does. Turbine noise has been recorded in homes 5.5 miles from turbines by Australian researchers. This noise as well as the unheard pressure can cause sleeplessness.
Industrial wind including their excess transmission lines complicate and hurt farming practices. The Rock Island Clean Line, a 500 mile proposed wind energy power line across Iowa and Illinois was only able to acquire 8% voluntary easements after 4 years of asking because farmers do not like power lines or turbines in their fields. Iowa and Illinois residents defeated the line. Construction ruins farmland for generations. Crops may grow but once the ground is compacted or soil layers are mixed they will yield far less. Farmers have reported continuing crop loss around wind turbines after 12 years. Aerial applications for spraying or seeding cover crops is impeded hurting both the economy of the farm and of the county.
Many people believe that we are developing wind energy to cut carbon emissions but in Iowa our emissions from power plants rose 3% during 2016-2017 with thousands of turbines already built. That same year our emissions from industrial processes, likely from building wind turbines, grew 31%! Even the roughly 2 million pounds of concrete in each turbine base emits CO2 at almost pound for pound. In 2020 our emissions will surely rise again as we close the carbon-emissions-free Duane Arnold nuclear plant fifteen years early and replace it with a mix of industrial wind and natural gas or coal. Natural gas has half the carbon emissions of coal. Iowa’s fall in carbon emissions has as more to do with switching some of our power plants from coal to natural gas than our move to wind energy.
Iowa’s rural electric co-ops still cannot afford to build new industrial wind turbines, being tax-exempt the tax credits do nothing for them. Iowa’s Alliant Energy has raised rates 24.9% to build wind turbine infrastructure and pay $110 million to be released from the power purchase agreement they had with the Duane Arnold nuclear plant. They raised rates even though they receive the same tax credits MidAmerican will. MidAmerican Energy has seemed to be able to afford to build industrial wind without raising rates but they did enjoy $10 billion in tax credits to do it. MidAmerican’s owner Warren Buffet has publicly admitted that the only reason to build wind turbines is for the tax credits. In 2015 the Iowa Utilities Board asked MidAmerican to return more of that money to the ratepayers of Iowa who will shoulder 100% of the risk for turbine projects. MidAmerican complained to then Governor Branstad. Branstad changed the composition of the Iowa Utilities Board to “appease MidAmerican thus sending a message to the Board and its staff to get in line and approve anything that the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, bring to it.” –Sheila Tipton, from her published open letter to Governor Branstad.
Counties often admit they are allowing wind turbines for the property tax revenue they bring. Iowa Code 427B.26 outlines the tax payment schedule. The first year a wind installation is running they pay no taxes. The second year they will pay 5%, the third 10%, increasing by increments of 5% until they are forever capped at 30% in year 8 while each and every turbine is raking in about $300,000 a year in tax credits. Communities will see about $10,000 per turbine in year 8. This is after the heavy equipment takes value out of our roads, compromises our tiling infrastructure, compacts our world class farm ground and the turbines lower home values of hundreds of residents.
Industrial wind turbines do kill our eagles, other birds and threatened/endangered bats. This past year MidAmerican Energy applied for a permit with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to kill these animals with 2020 of their wind turbines. They finally applied for this permit after 20 years of having wind turbines. No other turbine company in Iowa has yet decided it is even necessary to get a permit for killing animals with their turbines. With organizations like the Sierra Club firmly standing with companies like MidAmerican there is no one to make sure that wind installations are held accountable.
The reason Iowa has industrial wind installations is that rural communities don’t have the power of a recall election, do not have the power of referendum and don’t even have the protections of the Iowa Utilities Board. Iowa’s Supreme Court made a surprising ruling recently that only our County Supervisors, lacking any kind of expertise or qualifications will be allowed to regulate wind projects, not the Iowa Utilities Board which means that the wind companies just regulate themselves. During depositions for a lawsuit that was filed in this matter one Supervisor admitted that he felt threatened by MidAmerican and their partner Invenergy. Counties often vote out wind supporting Supervisors but it is too little, too late. The only county in Iowa that has a decent industrial wind ordinance is West Des Moines’ Dallas County. They do have setbacks of 2640 feet and noise limits of 30 dBA no industrial turbine could ever honor. This effectively blocks any project from being built.
Now our Federal government is proposing that we extend tax credits for wind turbines another year. Understand when the tax credits begin, they run for 10 years. Any turbine that is built this year will receive 100% of the tax credit because of mechanisms like Safe Harbor. The tax credits are not ending. It is only the start of the tax credits that is ending. Industrial wind turbines in the US have been 100% paid for with our taxes. There are 59,338 wind turbines in the US receiving an estimated average of $4,000,000 each. If these other projects are receiving the same money that MidAmerican has admitted to that is $237,352,000,000. Industrial wind now only intermittently supplies 2-3% of the power in the US.
Our investor owned utility companies are incredibly powerful and wealthy. They like to build as much infrastructure as we will let them because they will receive an 11% guaranteed rate of return. Please look past the politicians and the few people being offered money to host these installations on land where they neither live nor farm and hear us. Stop to consider the atrocity that this is for the quiet, often disconnected residents of rural America. We are US citizens, we are tax payers and we are ratepayers. Our businesses and homes mean as much to us as yours means to you. People may believe that where we live there is plenty of room for all these projects but it is simply not true. Iowa only has 1% of the US population yet we have already covered well over one million of our acres with industrial wind installations, the same area as 3½ counties and only reached 37% in wind energy for our electricity usage. Can you imagine what 100% would look like?
Janna Swanson Ayrshire, Iowa Coalition for Rural Property Rights president National Wind Watch board member Preservation of Rural Iowa Alliance member
Yesterday afternoon Representative Bill Reineke worked to get language that he drafted into the new version of current bill HB 6. This language establishes a local vote by effected Townships within a given industrial wind turbine project. This would happen only after the project goes through the currently in place process with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). Only if the OPSB grants a particular wind turbine project its build certificate would this proposed legislation apply. At that point a petition could be filed with the County Board of Elections that consists of 8% of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election would add a referendum vote within each affected Township. This still allows projects to move forward if a given Township votes to support the industrial wind turbine project. A majority vote of 51% of voters would be required. Otherwise, the project would NOT be able to be built in that given Township due to a lack of supporting votes. This proposed legislation answers our pleas for more local control in the siting of industrial wind turbine projects. The new language reads:”Establishes a procedure for electors in the unincorporated areas of a township to submit a referendum petition to approve or reject a certificate issued by the Power Siting Board for a wind farm that is to be located in whole or in part in the township. Provides that the certificate is invalid if rejected at the referendum by electors from all participating townships. Requires the Power siting Board to modify the certificate if not all participating townships’ electors reject the certificate. Applies the referendum only to Major Utility Wind Farms (50 or more megawatts) and Economically Significant Wind Farms (5 to less than 50 megawatts, except for those that are 5 to less than 20megawatts that meet certain requirements). (R.C. 519.214, 4906.10, 4906.101, 4906.13, 4906.20, 4906.201, 4906.203.)”….
Wind energy experts are pushing back against a change made to the House energy bill, HB6, that allows municipalities to vote on wind farm projects. Opponents of the change say this will dramatically impact the wind industry. Listen Listening…
The referendum provision reflects ongoing local battles among landowners who do and don’t want wind turbines in northwest Ohio.
BigWind is working hard in the Ohio legislature to reduce turbine setbacks. One might ask what the title means? Turbines and People do not belong together and that is why we have setbacks. Setbacks are PROTECTIVE for Ohio residents and wildlife and property rights. Without them, we may as well live in the Wild West. Just how many turbines are we talking about? SEE THIS LINK FOR A GOOGLE MAP REPRESENTATION. IT IS SHOCKING!!
It is poor policy to reduce setback distances while turbines are getting taller. Larger rotor diameters mean longer throw distances!! No other state or local jurisdiction in the nation is reducing setbacks.
At a minimum, the General Assembly should not take action while the Ohio Power Siting Board is in the middle of rulemaking on blade shear. Testimony about blade shear at the PUCO late last month indicated blade failures on current wind turbines in Ohio within the last three years have thrown debris over 1500 feet. The current setbacks are only slightly more than 1200 feet from a property line. Changing the setbacks to pre-2014 levels would allow the 650 foot turbines to be located much closer to your home than currently allowed.
Curiously, we wonder what documentation the sponsors and co-sponsors of this bill are relying on? Not only should our legislators be concerned about safety, but also the nuisance of noise, vibration, and shadow flicker. If they are successful in changing the setback, can citizens sue the legislators???…