Ohio legislature tells BigWind to TAKE A HIKE

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AWEA and BigWind spent $$$ on lobbyists to persuade Ohio senators and representatives to approve a setback amendment in the budget bill. This morning, the house said NO and removed the amendment. Hallelujah! Thank you to those who contacted the legislature to help us protect our homes and property.  This amendment would have SIGNIFICANTLY shortened the distance between an industrial wind turbine and a neighboring home.  It would have been unprecedented because all other setbacks are measured from a property  line, not a home.  BigWind will be back with their own bill, as a separate piece of legislation. At least, this time, it won’t be so secretive.  This amendment was the brainchild of BigWind’s best friend, Senator Cliff Hite.  It’s time to take a hike, Senator Hite!! Does anyone want his job????…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will BigWind move closer to its Ohio neighbors?

Yesterday, the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee met to hear proponent testimony on a new version of a bill that would give County Commissioners the authority to reduce statutory setbacks for a “wind farm”. The minimum setback “shall be both” 1.1 times the total height of the turbine (including to tip of blade) to the property line of the “wind farm property” and at least 1,125 feet to the exterior of the nearest habitable residential structure located on adjacent property at the time the application is filed. Before adopting a resolution, the Board of County Commissioners may “consult with the Ohio Power Siting Board.” If a resolution passed in a county is revoked after a wind developer files a notice of intent to build a “wind farm,” the developer will be able to build according to the revoked standards but future projects will be subject current OPSB setbacks of 1,125 feet from the property line. The OPSB may increase the setback for any specific turbine in order to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the neighboring property owner. 

The same old people from Van Wert and Paulding Counties were trotted out to say wind was an economic miracle for their communities, the leaseholders, the schools and so on. Due to other hearings that morning, the hearing was poorly attended. The revised proposal was offered by Alliance Republican Kristina Hagan. Highlights of the day included the question asked to Susan Munroe of the Van Wert Chamber on why County Commissioners were in a better position to make decisions on setbacks than the property owners. She replied that County Commissioners needed to defend the property rights of the leaseholders. Munroe also alleged that P&G and Owens Corning wanted to buy their wind from Ohio and were forced to buy out of state because of the setbacks. We might remind Ms. Munroe that there are at least 7 previously certified projects such as EverPower which have not been built because there is no buyer for their output.

Munroe also said modification to the setbacks would enable the Dog Creek project as well as an Apex project to go forward. She asserted that Ohio was trailing other states but when asked if we were trailing from the perspective of setbacks, she said she did not know.She claimed that only when Dog Creek and the Apex projects were built would Van Wert be able to attract a high-tech company to their area. REALLY? Our observation is that a lot of the techies like urban areas – San Francisco comes to mind. Who would want to live in Van Wert among HUNDREDS of turbines?

Three area school officials testified they also felt the property rights of leaseholders should be protected. One school official from Lincolnview said enrollment in his school had increased. He later noted that the increases came from outside the district. We wonder if ‘in district’ numbers were shrinking if people were moving away from turbines? He also expressed hope that someday their tax levies would be less. Apparently, for now, the PILOT payments have not reduced local taxes…Hmm

Perhaps one of the worst witnesses was former Hardin County Commissioner Ron Wyss who said there was a connection between the need for reduced setbacks and the terror attacks in Paris. REALLY? Wyss went on to say that he had been a member of the Ohio Wind Working Group but later corrected himself and said he was an observer that attended all meetings. He testified that the siting regulations were painstakingly developed over a period or two years and were based on a scientific analysis. He said they should not have been discarded by the legislature. Rep. Cupp asked if Wyss had copies of the OWWG documents. Wyss said it was a public forum and all documentation would be a public record. We would remind Wyss that at the time of the OWWG, turbines were 1MW and much, much smaller. We might also remind him that when the industry saw that setbacks might be longer than they wanted, the OWWG was disbanded and the facilitator’s consulting contract was terminated. The Development Department staffer to the OWWG went on to be the Department’s “expert” on siting for the OPSB until he resigned in the face of ethics charges for running around with wind lobbyists on the taxpayer’s dime. UNU has all of the documents related to the OWWG. We wonder who recruited Wyss to testify about OWWG.

Iberdrola’s Dan Litchfield testified that the last change resulted in a tripling of setbacks. He said that some people did not want to sign because they did not want to tie up land for such a long time and others had multiple owners who could not agree. He asserted County Commissioners are in the best position because they decide the PILOT. He said Illinois counties administer wind zoning while Michigan and Indiana have given the authority to Township Trustees. Because the turbines are getting bigger, the payments to landowners which were typically $7,000 to $8,000 will now be getting bigger. Vice Chairman Roegner asked Litchfield to confirm Iberdrola was a Spanish Company. She said she had done her research and wondered why Ohioans were being asked to endure shorter setbacks than the countries where their companies were located. She went on to list a variety of longer setbacks in Germany, Scotland and Wales. Litchfield said the longer European setbacks were probably from houses and not property lines. He also said they do not have current complaints. We wonder if leaseholders and Good Neighbor Agreement holders waived project effects and so have no right to complain? Rep. Rogers asked how the current setbacks were developed. Litchfield said he did not know because there was no public process. He noted also that OPSB had very strict rules on noise and shadow flicker and those were the basis for original setbacks from homes. REALLY?

Litchfield also said the wind industry — at this point — cannot afford to pay the signing bonuses that other energy companies can pay. Maybe that is the crux of the problem. Economically troubled communities and wind developers who may lose their subsidies. The communities are desperate for anything they can get while the wind companies can’t build without the PTC, local tax abatement or paying landowners. A toxic combination.

Written testimony was also submitted by John Love, Putnam County Commissioners; Tony Zartman, Paulding County Commissioner; Curt Cory, Director of Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation; David Miller, Treasurer of Leipsic Local School District; Jerry Zielke Director Paulding County Economic Development, and Peggy Emerson, Executive Director Paulding Chamber of Commerce. All testimony can be found on the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee website at http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/public-utilities by clicking on November 18, 2015.

Ironically, just as setbacks are being debated again, the wind industry’s leading insurance underwriter, GCube, released a report on the incidence of fire at wind facilities. The report is entitled “Towering Inferno” and urges that more should be done to mitigate and prevent fires. That is a tall order given that lightning strikes are the second highest cause of fire. Many property owners, including and especially farmers, are concerned about fires at harvest time when land is usually pretty dry. Property line setbacks of 1,125 feet as opposed to 1.1 times turbine height can offer a bit of protection against the spread of fire…

Northwestern Ohio officials are lining up behind a legislative proposal to allow more local control of where wind farms can be built, a plan that would help to get around restrictions passed last year.

“For us, it’s all about the pursuit of economic development and economic prosperity,” said Susan Munroe, president and CEO of the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce.

She is one of 14 local elected officials and business leaders who signed a letter in support of House Bill 190, which allows for more local control. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Tim Brown, R-Bowling Green, and Tony Burkley, R-Payne, was the subject of a hearing on Wednesday.

If it passes, the measure would represent a small shift in a system that gives state agencies most of the control over wind-farm decisions.

The bill is a response to legislation passed last year by majority Republicans that increased the required distance between wind turbines and nearby property lines. That change has been criticized by the wind-power industry because it reduces the number of turbines that can be built in a project area…

 

Source: Northwestern Ohio officials back plan for local control over wind-farm sites

BigWind causing ‘turbulence’ amongst Michigan residents

This story is becoming all too familiar. BigWind builds turbines,  people can’t sleep and their homes are devalued.  It is occurring all over the globe.  And, what were their setbacks established ‘from’? Dwellings, not the property lines.  What does their county commissioner describe this as? “It’s a taking of their property.” Sound familiar, Ohio? House Bill 483 has attempted to help us by increasing our setbacks from the propery line. Let us make sure it doesn’t disappear this year. Rumors abound that some legislators want to destroy 483….  

…Most recently, neighbors of a 14-turbine wind farm in the Upper Peninsula community of Garden filed a lawsuit against the developer in U.S. District Court last month, alleging the project’s noise has harmed their quality of life and property values. In Huron County in Michigan’s Thumb — a focal point for state wind development — county officials are tearing up an “inadequate,” less than 10-year-old wind energy ordinance because, in the words of the county commissioners’ chairman, “people’s rights (are) being violated.”…

“It impacts residents’ enjoyment of their own property — they’re losing sleep because of the turbines’ noise,” she said, adding property values will suffer with the wind farm’s presence….

Setbacks from turbines were also calculated measuring from a neighbor’s occupied dwellings, not their property line — which would then prevent a turbine’s neighbor from further developing their land between their home and the spinning blades.

“It’s a taking of their property,” Nugent said.

The old ordinance also contained noise provisions “so poorly crafted, you couldn’t understand it.”…

Dustups over wind farms: Turbines blamed for noise, dead birds.

Kentucky moving BigWind 1 MILE from Property Lines

A Kentucky county moves toward a 1 MILE setback for wind turbines from PROPERTY LINES. Once again, it makes our new Ohio setback of approximately 1250 feet look mighty small.  Kentucky has awoken to the realities of living near these industrial sites and we thank our legislators for trying to protect our citizens with passage of Ohio Senate Bill 310….

The first step has been taken by county officials to ban industrial wind turbines from Mason County.

After months of discussion and listening to concerned citizens, Wind Energy Ordinance 14-09 had its first reading Tuesday during Mason County Fiscal Court…

The recommendations were the culmination of months of discussion, public meetings and a trip to an Indiana wind farm by JPC board members…

Restrictions on large industrial wind turbines include: turbines can only be located in areas of the county zoned rural industrial (I3); one mile set back distances without any waivers whatsoever, from the following: property lines, public roads and right-of-ways, community zones, incorporated cities/towns, platted subdivisions, public or semi-public structures such as schools and/or churches, historical landmarks, cell towers, electric transmission lines, railroads, and to strictly follow any regulations as set out by the Kentucky Airport Zoning Commission; noise restrictions not to exceed 30 dB(A) scale at any non-participating property line and less than 50 dB(C) scale….

via Wind energy ordinance moves forward.

Victory against BigWind in Kokomo, Indiana

Congratulations to our neighbors to the West! On June 10th, we blogged about their situation. Residents in Howard County were begging the neighboring town to incorporate their area, in order to avoid BigWind development. Property devaluations and noise disturbances have occurred in the operational wind site. People are beginning to wake up….

After months of contention surrounding further wind farm development, juwi Wind has decided to cut its losses and part ways with Tipton County….

The decision to halt the project came almost 11 months into a lawsuit filed by juwi against the Tipton Board of Zoning Appeals. The lawsuit alleged the BZA had exceeded its authority by increasing the distance wind turbines had to be from property lines and requiring a property value guarantee plan to protect non-participating property owners in the project area….

via Wind developer withdraws plans to build Prairie Breeze Wind Farm » Local News » Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana.

BigWind Setbacks: Safety First unless youre a wind developer

Does BigWind really care about YOUR safety? What about the safety of the farmer or kids on snowmobiles?

Last month, Ohio infuriated wind proponents by passing Senate bill 310, a bill that delays the states renewable electricity standard for two years and eliminates the requirement that half of the renewables mandate be met with in-state resources.

Within days of SB310 passing, Ohio Governor John Kasich approved a change to the safety setback distances for wind turbines. Under the new law, setbacks will now be measured at the property line of the nearest adjacent property as opposed to the wall of a nearby home. In practice, this will require minimum distances of at least 1,300 feet from property lines to each turbine base.

Wind developers and Ohios media cried foul over due process claiming the legislature gave no warning of the setback rule change or opportunity for testimony. They insisted the provision was anti-wind driven by coal and oil interests intent on destroying the economics of large-scale wind and called on the governor to veto the change.

Industry Setback Recommendations

For decades, the wind industry has advanced the notion that these massive spinning structures can safely be erected a few hundred feet from where people live and gather.

The industry’s preferred setback has been 1.1x to 1.5x the height of the tower (including the blade) which was derived from the fall-zone of the tower. We saw variations on this over the years beginning in California, that measured as much as 3-4x the total tower height. In general, there was no consideration in the setback distances for noise nor did the 1.1 to 1.5x setback adequately address ice/blade throw….

However, according to Iberdrola’s Emergency Plan written for Groton Wind employees and released this year, “shedding ice may be thrown a significant distance as a result of the rotor spinning or wind blowing the ice fragments.”

GE Wind states that rotating turbine blades may propel ice fragments up to several hundred meters if conditions are right depending on turbine dimensions, rotational speed and many other potential factors….

One operator of a wind installation admitted large turbines will throw a four hundred pound chunk of ice one thousand feet.

In the last 5-6 years, communities have adopted setbacks at or greater than the distance codified under Ohio law. More modern ordinances include two setback protections. The first protects property owners from ice/debris flying off the turbines. This ranges from 1300 feet to 1 mile or more away. The second setback distance is implied based on noise limits that cannot be exceeded either at the property line or the wall of an occupied building. If the noise standards are correctly applied, turbines may be erected 1.25-1.5 (or more) miles from the property line/building.

According to Mr. Palmer, the goal of public safety risk assessment is to ensure that we do not impose risks on unsuspecting members of the public. We agree!

via WindAction | Wind Setbacks: Safety First unless youre a wind developer.