Ohio citizens prevail AGAINST BigWind

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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.

 

Readers interested in learning more about MN reporting obligations can go to  this link: https://www.edockets.state.mn.us/EFiling/edockets/searchDocuments.do?method=showeDocketsSearch&showEdocket=true&userType=public  .  Look for reports described as “compliance filing” or do a keyword search for ‘LWECS ENERGY PRODUCTION ANNUAL REPORT’.  Reports are not all located in one place but are listed by docket #.

 

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….

 

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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

BigWind creates ‘Chaos’ at the Ohio Power Siting Board

This week several filings have been made with the Ohio Power Siting Board.  Union Neighbors United has requested a rehearing on the OPSB’s approval of Everpower’s motion to extend the certificate expiration date in Phase I of Buckeye Wind.  Ohio law requires that extensions be granted only after applications to amend a certificate are investigated, subjected to hearing and appeal and some due process accorded to the public.  UNU asserts Everpower is seeking to avoid due process because any delay in obtaining the extension would subject them to the new setback rules which require measurement from property lines.  The UNU application for rehearing makes the case that Everpower is simply attempting to avoid these new requirements. Moreover, UNU points to the Blackfork Wind and the Paulding County Timber Road III projects (also represented by the Vorys law firm) that filed similar extension requests in order to get around the new law that seeks to protect the property rights of landowners in and around the footprint of a wind project.

 It is important to note, again, that the OPSB has failed to properly adopt its revised rules because they were not submitted to the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. This means that the whole issue of what rules even apply to any wind development are up in the air. The ones who lose in the chaos are citizens who are trying to protect themselves and their communities. The OPSB has heaped insult on top of injury by not only leaving in question what the rules are, but also unlawfully suspending the rules for project extensions in order to accommodate the wind developers who are trying to duck the laws.  What a mess.

The Greenwich Wind project in Huron County is yet another example of the regulatory chaos.   The Omega Corporation, one of the entities impacted by the Greenwich Wind project, filed to extend the time period for the community to intervene in this project. They were denied.  We have also attached their application for a rehearing of the Board’s denial.  This is another indictment the OPSB and its failure to faithfully and fairly implement the laws regarding wind development.   Further information on this and all other wind cases pending before the OPSB can be found on the OPSB website at http://www.opsb.ohio.gov/opsb/index.cfm/Cases/ .  If you think you live in a ‘SAFE’ place away from BigWind, you will rethink your theory….

We will keep you abreast of what happens next in this drama.  It is complicated but very much worth taking the time to understand because the future of a number of Ohio wind developments hangs in the balance….

It may not be too late to stop development of the Greenwich Windpark, attorney Sam Randazzo told about 75 township residents and visitors at a Greenwich Neighbors United informational meeting Tuesday…

via Greenwich residents request wind farm rehearing – Times-Gazette | Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio.

Can Paulding county, Ohio wind site replace coal?

How unfortunate that the media continues to spread such information, without verifying accuracy.  The USA has 300 MW of installed coal capacity.  Wind energy has a very LOW power density (1 watt/sq meter), meaning that it produces very little energy per fuel and land requirements, compared to traditional power producers. In other words, in order to replace our current coal capacity, we would need 300,000 SQUARE KILOMETERS of wind turbines (Rt. Bryce). This equates to the amount of land in the entire country of Italy. ADDITIONALLY, these turbines would need to run at full capacity 24 hours/7 days/week. Is that even possible? Not in Ohio or really anywhere on our planet. Ohio’s capacity factors average below 30%, which means our turbines produce less than 30% of the electricity that they originally advertised to the public. And, as they age (near 5-7 year mark), these #s will drop until they finally become useless, somewhere in the 10-15 year range.  What a waste of tax dollars and Ohio land…..

Two proposed wind farms in Paulding County have not been built because the company proposing them is unable to enter into a long-term agreement to support their financing. But with upcoming coal plant retirements, that could change, attorneys for a subsidiary of EDP Renewables told the Ohio Power Siting Board….

“Although market forces have hindered the project’s development, the electric generation market has experienced other changes recently (several coal plants are expected to retire in the near term), and generation capacity is anticipated to be needed for Ohio and the region,” an attorney for the company told regulators….

via EDP Renewables seeks extensions for Paulding County wind farm construction – Columbus – Columbus Business First.