Is BigWind as sneaky as Sylvester the Cat?

The wind industry has been hard at work and so have we. You will recall that the setbacks for wind turbines were changed a year ago in the Mid Biennium Budget Bill. The change required that setbacks be measured from the property lines of non-participating landowners instead of their homes. The old setbacks essentially forced property owners to “donate” their yards and fields as part of the safety buffer zone. This enabled the wind developers to use land without paying for its use. Senate President Faber and Governor Kasich supported the revised setbacks. The eleven wind projects that had received certificates of approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) were grandfathered in under the old setbacks unless they amended their certificate, in which case, the new setbacks would apply. The wind industry has gone around to communities and newspaper editorial boards saying that Ohio unreasonably lengthened setbacks making it impossible to develop renewable energy in Ohio. This was not true because they all had the option of negotiating a setback waiver with the landowner and compensating him for use of his land.

Currently under consideration in the Ohio House is HB 190. The wind industry-backed HB 190 would give County Commissioners the power to overrule the OPSB and change setbacks. HB 190 would also extend the life of the PILOT program. It appeared that rough sailing might be ahead for HB 190 when the House Public Utilities Committee understood what was really happening. The wind developers had framed the issue as giving “Local Control” back to communities. In reality, they were proposing to use County Commissioners to take property rights away from property owners. HB 190 has not had a hearing for opponents but it could be shoved into the Budget Bill. This would be terrible as HB 190 does not provide for a referendum if County Commissioners decide to take the property of people in the community. We understand Rep. Brown of Bowling Green in Wood County is pushing this idea. It is an awful bill, reflects the worst of a predatory industry and harms rural communities and their families.

Just in case HB 190 might be in trouble, the wind lobbyists went to work on the state Budget Bill. An amendment was proposed to extend the life of the PILOT program for five years. We are uncertain if this extension is in the version of the bill now being considered by the Conference Committee. One other wind-related amendment was inserted as a favor to at least one developer. This amendment would grant an exemption to the requirement that an approved project be subject to the new setbacks if the approved project was amended. There is a list of criteria the wind developer must meet in order to obtain the exemption:

1. The sole purpose of the amendment is to change the turbine model that was previously approved by OPSB.

2. The number of turbines is not increased.

3. The exemption must be sought within 90 days of the budget bill’s enactment.

4. The new turbines to be installed are technologically more advanced or efficient than the originally approved models.

5. The new models are not more than 8% taller than the approved models.

6. The developer is obligated by contract to supply energy to a mercantile customer that uses at least 7 million kilo-watt hours a year.

7. The turbines will be placed in the same locations as the originally approved turbines.

We do not know which approved Ohio wind project this special provision is designed to help. We think it is wrong to increase the height of a turbine and not re-examine the shadow flicker, noise and safety issues related to the new models. We are guessing that the projects most likely to benefit (if more than one apply) are Timber Creek and Hog Creek. This is a GUESS.

Late last night/early this morning, an additional amendment was accepted by the Conference Committee. We are working to understand what the substance of the newest amendment is. It is possible that the provisions of HB 190 are in this amendment. We recall that just a year ago, Governor Kasich was quoted in the Columbus Dispatch when asked about the revised setbacks: “Private property rights are important. People choose to live somewhere. You just don’t go in there and disrupt their life.”…

pic http://brainlitter.com

Ten Reasons to Eliminate the Windustry’s Taxpayer Feast

BigWind is gathering a lot of attention, as it is scrambling to renew its taxpayer handouts (PTC production tax credit) and as states are canceling their renewable portfolios (Kansas,NC,Ohio?). Below are 10 reasons to eliminate the taxpayer handout to the Windustry.  Click on the link at the bottom to read the details…

1. It INcreases electricity costs.

2. It is a Special Interest Handout.

3. It Threatens the reliability of the electricity grid.

4. It Encourages “Cannibal Behavior”

5. It DESTROYS MORE jobs than it creates.

6. It stifles innovation.

7. It is crucial to the EPA power plant regulations.

8. It ignores environmental drawbacks of wind energy.

9. It props up an old, failed technology.

10. It promotes an energy source that depends on other energy sources….

Ten Reasons to Eliminate the Wind PTC – American Energy Alliance.

Ohio Windustry lobbying for opportunity to bribe our county commissioners

This week we saw some media coverage on HB 190 which seeks to effectively undo the increased setbacks enacted last summer for industrial wind turbines.    We have also received word of the wind industry’s relentless lobbying of  County Commissioners and the County Commissioners Association.  We would like to implement a counter campaign with billboards in the districts of the sponsors, Rep. Burkley and Rep. Brown.  

big story this past week comes from the U.K. where the Conservatives won what was to some, a surprising victory with the election of David Cameron and other Conservatives.  This is great news.  The report below notes: “Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat who served as energy secretary in the previous coalition government, lost his seat as his party suffered a rout that will leave the Conservatives to govern alone. While the Liberals were sympathetic to renewables, Conservatives have stressed security of energy supply and local people’s right to halt wind farms that some consider eyesores. “  Cameron has pledged to halt all further onshore wind development.

And looking at the growing field of Republican Presidential challengers, we should not forget Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who has been very out front on the issue of industrial wind siting.   In 2011, Walker proposed setbacks of 1,800 feet from a property line.   Subsequently, the Brown County Health Department designated wind turbines as a health hazard due to low frequency noise at the Shirley Wind Farm.  The legislature in Wisconsin did not extend setbacks further than their current 1,250 feet from a dwelling.  The Wisconsin Realtors Association has sued and the courts should decide the matter later this year.  In the meantime, Governor Walker has included $250,000 in his budget to study the health impacts of industrial wind. 

And up north in Huron County, Michigan, the local fight is on as new projects are on hold until siting revisions can be made at the County level.   The proposed changes to existing regulations have elicited the same kind of howls from wind developers that we too often hear in Ohio.  Funny, but if you only listened to the Ohio Industry, you would think that our setbacks and restrictions are the only ones in the world. Read below and you learn a different story.  Among the proposed changes to Huron County industrial wind zoning are:

 

• Turbines three miles from shoreline. Previously, not regulated

 

• Shadow flicker: max 10 hours/year for non-participating residences; 30 hours/year at participating. Previously, not regulated.

 

• Property setbacks: 1,640 feet from non-participating residences; 1,320 from property line. Previously, 1,320 feet…

 

A new bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives seeks to change wind turbine setback regulations which would enable wind energy companies to work within Ohio counties to license new wind farms. The legislation, House Bill 190, is co-sponsored by local representative Rep. Tony Burkley along with Representative Tim W. Brown (R – Bowling Green)….

via Burkley sponsors bill to allow wind turbine setback changes – Times Bulletin.