Senate President Larry Obhof surprised the Ohio caucus by naming Senator Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) as Chair of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Media reports noted “I look forward to Steve’s leadership of this committee,” said Obhof. “He has proven himself a hard-working, thoughtful, solution-oriented leader, and he understands the importance of developing a long-term energy policy that provides affordable options for Ohioans and protects our natural resources.” Wilson was appointed to the Ohio Senate in 2017 and was elected to his first term in 2018. He currently serves on the Education; Finance; Insurance and Financial Institutions; Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs; and Ways and Means committees. Sen. Wilson, a retired banker, has not previously served as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee . He is a co-sponsor of Sen. Dolan’s stand alone bill SB 238 to roll back property line setbacks.
With a new chairman installed, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources resumes its committee work this week. It should be noted that HB 114 is not on the agenda. Sen. Matt Huffman, attending a breakfast in Urbana on Saturday, expressed his belief that there was just not enough time left in year to deal with HB 114. Senator Huffman gave a brief speech while in town in which he said that there are significant manufacturing expansions occurring or planned throughout his District. He is very concerned about these employers being able to attract employees. He said that if communities cannot supply a workforce, companies will begin to turn away from NW Ohio. This begs the question, why would anyone want to live in the middle of an industrial power plant? How inviting would it be to attract a workforce to an area that had become uninhabitable due to the proliferation of industrial wind turbines?
As Lordstown, Ohio struggles to accept the loss of the GM plant there. We should not forget it was only last May that the people of Paulding County destroyed a bit more of their environment and provided taxpayer subsidy (PILOT) to GM to “power” the Lordstown plant with wind. Guess wind and solar aren’t such great economic development/retention tools after all. Wonder how the folks in Paulding are feeling about now?
Out of curiosity, we visited the Ohio Secretary of State’s website to see if we could find more incorporations for Apex wind projects. While it is not possible to determine where these projects might be, it was instructive to see how many limited liability companies have been created – some of them within the past couple of years. Here are eleven:
Apex Ashtabula Wind
Apex Buck Springs Wind LLC
Apex Emerson Creek Wind LLC
Apex Emerson Creek West
Apex Firelands Wind LLC
Apex Grant Ridge Wind LLC
Apex High Springs Wind LLC
Apex Honey Creek Wind LLC
Apex Long Prairie Wind I
Apex Long Prairie Wind II
Apex Sugar Grove Wind LLC
The list, above, should remind all of us WHY it is important to persevere in this fight for property rights. This is a many year long battle, that must continue until our tax dollars no longer subsidize this inefficient energy……
There are many reasons why rural communities are fighting back against wind development. This isn’t some crusade against a cleaner source of energy, that would be silly to think that people against living in a wind turbine project want dirty air and water. What this boils down to is property rights guaranteed by the constitution, and the safety, health, and welfare of all citizens in the rural community.
First on the property rights issue. The rural communities are zoned agricultural/residential. Nothing about industrial wind turbines are either of those. The fact is, wind turbines are industrial electric generators. It is an oxymoron to call them wind “farms.” That is a fancy spin that pushes the idea of it being agricultural. And why do they push that? Because the wind industry expects a special land use exception to site wind turbines like they are agricultural.
I ask a simple question to the readers. Can anyone name one example of zoning regulation that measures someone’s industrial structure to the foundation of another person’s house? You can try to find it but it doesn’t exist. This is largely the language in wind ordinances that wind developers look for when attacking a rural community in the cloak of darkness. They want the public to think this is a farming operation so they can justify measuring these things to a house and not a property line. They want this to look like a confined feeding operation like that of a hog barn which can be measured to a house. Then you get into the argument that “I would rather have a wind turbine than a hog barn.”
Which leads to another question: When you build or choose to live in the rural community that is zoned for agriculture is it unreasonable to think you may experience agricultural nuisances? You know that comes with living rurally. A follow up to that, when you build or choose to live in the rural community that is zoned agricultural is it unreasonable to think you will be dealing with something industrial? Yes, that is unreasonable. It goes against the very essence of why people choose to live in the rural community.
Turbine manufacturers have recommended safety distances in their operations manual that is mainly established by Gcube insurance, the main insurer for liability of industrial wind turbines. The setbacks in these manuals are largely kept from the public for proprietary reasons. Shouldn’t the public have a right to know just how dangerous the wind industry’s own insurers define as what is safe? Setbacks all over the Midwest can easily be proven inadequate by many resources. If you want some specific information about proper setbacks please read some of the following links. Here is a study that proves that a 300′ turbine can sling debris over 1700′ from a physicist. Other recommendations based on safe setbacks can be found in many other places too (1, 2, and 3). As a final follow up to this section, ask any wind developer to produce a scientific, peer-reviewed, independent study that proves the setbacks they advocate for and claim are safe. They will duck and dodge. A developer recently turned that question around on me and I produced the study listed above along with two others studies. Then all I heard was silence.
This is about conflicting land uses and equitable zoning over all else. The language in leasing agreements plainly states there is a “no build” zone that extends out from a turbine. Measuring a turbine to someone’s house can deny them the right to develop their land as they see fit in the future. That is theft, it is referred to as trespass zoning. If developers want to site wind turbines, the zoning must be to a neighboring landowners property line unless they sign a “good neighbor agreement” also known as a setback waiver.
This is perfectly legal right now. But wind developers do not want to negotiate the property rights of all landowners in a footprint. They expect zoning law to allow them to steal uncompensated easements from all non-participating landowners as a part of their robbery scheme. That is unconstitutional. This is the source of the main opposition for people in the rural community.
Next, it is a quality of life issue. Wind developers constantly say there is no scientific evidence that wind turbines affect people’s health. Which poses another question. If that is true, then why does every leasing agreement offered admit all the health effects they so adamantly discredit actually do exist? I have copies of lease agreements and all the health effects are in every contract. And here is the bigger point, when you sign an agreement, you have been essentially “gagged” into speaking negatively about wind turbines to the public. There is a gag order in the agreement. Why are those terms necessary if the wind industry is so right about discrediting the health effects? Independent studies show wind turbines do affect people’s health and you can read that in many places (1, 2, and 3).
Thirdly, wind developers insist wind turbines do not have an adverse effect on home values. That can also be soundly refuted. They constantly cite a study done by the Lawrence Berkley Laboratory. That study is flawed. The Berkley study can be refuted in multiple sources (1 and 2). There is plenty of evidence that says wind turbines absolutely affect home values. Information about property value depreciation can be easily found (1, 2, 3, and 4.). If these reports are so wrong about property values and the wind industry is so right, then why do wind developers fight against offering the citizens a property value guarantee? Doesn’t that seem appropriate given the lengths they go to try to prove that wind turbines do not result in property depreciation?
Finally, some specific refutations of the pro-wind crowd from Van Wert County that was interviewed in your recent series. The Chamber of Commerce president said that the Blue Creek Project is the “number one tourist attraction” in Van Wert County. Where is the proof of that? I and many other residents have not once heard people visiting our community for the wind turbines. That is pure speculation and opinion. Secondly, she calls the turbine money a “game changer” for our schools. The two school districts that receive wind money have been on sound financial footing for multiple decades because their taxpayers have routinely supported ballot issues. It has nothing to do with wind payments. The annual payments are fractions of the annual operating expenses of these districts. School funding can easily be found online to prove it.
The only district in the county that doesn’t receive wind payments has far more academic opportunities than the other districts that do. The Van Wert City School district has fully implemented project-based learning through the New Tech Network, have two programs in the PTLW (project lead the way) methodology in Biomedical Science and Engineering, have a fully functional mass media television production studio on campus, a state respected robotics club, and a more diverse offering of courses. All of these without the addition of wind payments. So it’s a false narrative that wind payments are “game changers”; the truth is they help schools at a fraction of what is claimed.
It is also necessary to disclose some information regarding the pro-wind farmer interviewed in your piece. This farmer, admittedly, is compensated by hosting wind turbines. At a tune of $20,000 or so per year, this farmer has already received over $100,000 in payments and will garner over $400,000 by the end of the terms of the contract. Would that not be enough to say a wind turbine’s noise is “minimal?” Would that allow one to make no distinction between industrial wind turbines and a highway a mile away? If one believes so much in the cause, why would they not just donate their property for the cause? This comes down to money. Money for a minority of landowners at all of their neighbor’s expense.
In conclusion, folks fighting for their quality of life are not against better means to serve our complicated energy needs. We are fighting for our property rights, our health, our guaranteed safety, and energy policy that makes sense. I haven’t even touched on the false narrative perpetuated by the wind industry and how it’s saving the Earth. I have plenty of science that proves that is plainly false.
I also haven’t touched on the complicated economic picture that proves this technology firmly relies on tax and ratepayer support to produce a highly expensive, low-value product that negatively impacts all our bank accounts. Those are arguments that simply do not resonate with the average citizen. The complexities and dynamics are very difficult to comprehend. Lastly, the large amount of people who support wind technologies will never live near any wind installation, thus making it easy to push it on the rest of us.
— Jeremy Kitson, Citizens for Clear Skies, from Van Wert County, Ohio (Thank you to the News Sentinel of Ft. Wayne, for printing this letter!!!)
letter reprinted in entirety w permission from author
It has been a crazy week at the Statehouse. The picture is becoming just a little clearer to us and it seems that the bill which Sen. Beagle drafted as Sub. HB 114 was NOT what had been expected. Many were surprised that there was any setback language in the bill at all. Equally surprising was the restoration of mandates even though the mandated amounts were reduced. The House had worked hard to change the mandates to goals. The Senate undid their good work. All is up in the air.
In the meantime, HB 604 was referred to the Public Utilities Committee for Sponsor testimony this coming Tuesday afternoon. HB 604 changes the property line setbacks and it makes the PILOT program for tax abatement permanent. It is not known whether there will actually be hearings on the bill after Rep. Strahorn (D-Dayton) gives his remarks next week. One gossip sheet report we saw this week said:
“John Kasich, Ryan Smith, and their allies have fervently embraced well financed left coast, left wing organizations that are pushing solar and wind for Ohio. At the same time, they are fervently opposed to both coal and nuclear power. As far as they are concerned every coal and nuclear plant in Ohio can close and consumers, investors, and taxpayers can be damned. Householder and his allies believe in more of an all of the above approach versus an either-or approach on energy issues. They know that energy demand in Ohio and across the nation is increasing swiftly and we need coal, gas, hydro, nuclear, solar, and wind to meet the demand inexpensively. They believe that Ohio remaining a low-cost energy producer is absolutely crucial to growing our economic base.”
Tuesday morning, Conservatives for Clean Energy is holding a press conference at the Statehouse presumably to stage a theatrical act to convince Republican lawmakers to move swiftly on Sub. HB 114 or even SB 238 before summer recess. An article from earlier this year from the Washington Examiner lambasting the Conservatives for Clean Energy: “There is nothing ‘conservative’ about the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, which appears to be little more than a front group for purveyors of wind and solar power, who will stop at nothing to keep their industry from having to stand on its own two feet. And that includes presenting themselves as conservative when, in fact, they are garden-variety hustlers looking for a handout.”
Apex has weighed in on Sub HB 114 saying, “The bill includes local engagement requirements, such as public meetings and letters to all adjacent landowners, and preserves ‘local control’ through county government consideration of property tax treatment for wind facilities,” Mr. Goodwin said. “We encourage the legislature and Governor Kasich to approve this measure before the summer recess to allow billions of dollars of investment from utility-scale wind development in Ohio to proceed.” Ridiculous! Every community facing the threat of wind knows that unwitting leaseholders are signed up long before the projects become public. A requirement that public notice be given 60 days before filing with OPSB is laughable. Public information meetings are also currently required and anyone who has ever been to one knows they are worthless and project maps on display show no roads or boundaries. Finally, the notion that the County Commissioner’s authority to abate taxes has NOTHING to do with local input on setbacks or the ability of a community to determine if a project is a net benefit or a net harm.
Finally, we thought we would refresh your memories on what Senator Dolan said about his bill last winter when interviewed: “The setbacks were moved to a distance that really made it nearly impossible for wind farms to develop economically,” Dolan said” Dolan may be telling the truth here. Projects could be built if wind developers were willing to pay neighboring landowners enough money to sign a Good Neighbor Agreement. Would it cost them a little more? Probably. But taking it on an uncompensated basis by the action of the legislature would be more “economical”. We guess that it really is just another handout to prop up the business.
In other news, just when BigWind convinces you that Ohio setbacks restrict their business…
- When Amazon, recently, announced a new facility in Madison County that will employ 1,500 people, Rep. Bill Seitz was quick to point out to his colleagues that “One of the most easily debunked arguments made by advocates of reduced wind turbine setbacks and for the retention of renewable mandates is that such is needed to attract companies like Amazon”.
- Likewise, a solar company announced plans to open an office in Central Ohio despite no special mandates or handouts. “A growing North Carolina business specializing in solar energy and roofing is planning a new office in Worthington. Power Home Solar…as it looks to establish a market in Central Ohio. It says it ultimately looks to employ 65 to 70 in its local roofing operations. It’s looking to hire a mix of back-office staff, salespeople and installers. Founded in 2015 in Mooresville, North Carolina, the company has been listed on the Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing private companies.”
It was quite a week. “Head spinning” – to use a wind term. One thing is clear, Apex is under attack in many communities (across America) and it is interesting to see the different ways they are dealing with the communities who are challenging them.
The wind industry is pulling out all stops in what appears to be a last ditch effort to hold onto renewable energy mandates and to repeal property line setbacks in Ohio. The phase out of the federal Production Tax Credits is looming and the risks that a number of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan projects might not meet deadlines or be derailed because of stricter local zoning ordinances is probably driving much of this. Wind has a lot to lose and we are seeing their aggression in full force.
The Ohio Power Siting Board was directed to go back to the drawing board and redraft their rules on setback waivers which Rep. Bill Seitz challenged as being inconsistent with the law. At issue is how many nonparticipating property owners must sign a waiver in order for the current 1,125 foot setback to be suspended. It is anticipated OPSB will refile their rule at the end of the month.
The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum released a questionable state-wide poll of “conservative Ohio voters” finding that 85 percent would pay something extra in their monthly bills for power generated by renewable technologies such as wind and solar. “Nearly half of those polled said they would be willing to pay between $10 and $20 extra every month for green power. The release of the polling results by the Ohio CEF comes as state lawmakers begin hearings on legislation mandating renewable energy, minimum property setback rules for wind turbines, as well as new subsidies for old coal and nuclear power plants.” The poll results are being used to lobby for increased mandates and reduced wind turbine setbacks.
In response to the Conservative Energy Forum “poll,” Rep. Bill Seitz (who has been working tirelessly to pass HB 114 repealing mandates) unleashed one of his signature diatribes against the CEF. In an open letter to members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office, Seitz takes on the CEF point by point. THIS IS A MUST READ! Seitz makes the point that if Ohioans are so supportive of wind, there should be no opposition to giving local township voters a say in the matter. “If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).”
Attacks from the wind lobby and the radical left were aided by extremist publication Inside Climate News who with the Weather Channel prepared a 13 minute video documentary called Killing Clean pummeling Rep. Seitz and any Ohio lawmaker who would oppose renewable mandates and other pro-wind policies. This is a vicious production full of inaccurate reporting – but it also features our own Van Wert warrior, Jeremy Kitson. We regard these polls and attacks as a sign of desperation and a call for all wind warriors to fight back by staying in constant touch with your local elected officials to prove that the wind lobby is spreading falsehoods.
On Wednesday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held its first hearing on SB 238 to repeal property line setbacks. Bill sponsor Sen. Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls provided testimony and offered an amendment to the bill specifically stating county engineers’ responsibility to make sure wind developers restore damaged roads or infrastructure to their condition prior to development. It also states police and fire personnel must be trained for emergencies stemming from wind farms. Dolan asserted that while these provisions were already in the law, he was clarifying them as part of demonstrating that local control of wind development already exists. Good grief. There are no further hearings scheduled at this time.
In Huron County, local wind warriors provided information to the County Commissioners in opposition to their possible consideration of designating the county as an Alternative Energy Zone (“AEZ”). An AEZ makes PILOT automatic anywhere in the County. This designation is being pushed by Apex who threatens that they will not proceed with the Emerson Creek project unless they receive tax abatement through the PILOT program. In addition, Sam Randazzo wrote an opinion piece for the local Norwalk paper further describing the negative consequences of PILOT. THIS IS MUST READ. Among Randazzo’s points is “For example, the commissioners indicated that the state (and more specifically the Ohio Power Siting Board) would make sure that any Apex wind farm would not negatively affect the environment. Most of the local property owners who have been active in Ohio Power Siting Board proceedings know that the Ohio Power Siting Board is either unwilling or unable to protect the public interest. For example, as I explained in the attached prepared statement, the Ohio Power Siting Board lacks technical expertise to evaluate proposed wind farms and has typically used a method of evaluating wind turbine noise output that is unacceptable for use in rural areas. The Ohio Power Siting Board also has ignored minimum safe distance warnings of wind turbine manufacturers with regard to ice throw and fire risks.”
Bowling Green is touting its reputation as the “Greenest City in Ohio” drawing 41 percent of total power usage from sustainable energy sources, providing a home to Ohio’s largest solar field and the state’s first utility-sized wind farm. Sen. Randy Gardner of Bowling Green is a co-sponsor of SB 238 to reduce setbacks. We note, however, that while the local wind farm located on a landfill outside of town was the first in the state, it was also the last for Bowling Green which has turned to solar and hydro. But hey – why not let the good green people of Bowling “Green” have all the turbines and reduced setbacks they want? Why don’t they start with declaring Wood an Alternative Energy Zone?
At the Ohio Public Utilities Commission a hearing took place to reconsider whether a November ruling should be changed. The PUCO ruling reduced the amount that private owners of wind turbines and solar panels can receive for selling excess power back to the utility. PUCO’s concern was that as more and more consumers and businesses generate their own power, others who rely on their utility will have to shoulder a higher cost of maintaining the grid. ONE Energy of Findlay which supplies wind turbines to Ohio manufacturers was among those criticizing the November ruling.
The PUCO has ordered the state’s utilities to prepare to lower rates it has been charging customers to “recover” federal taxes, as allowed by state law. The commission reasons that the lower tax bills utilities will now enjoy because of the cut in federal corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent should go to customers. Under state law, the regulated utilities can pass along tax burdens to customers. The PUCO also agreed to give Amazon a discount on the rate it will pay for electricity….. If electricity rates rise, in the future, do you think Amazon (EXTREMELY PRO WIND) or Ohio ratepayers will pay for the increase??
COMMUNICATION TO ALL HOUSE AND SENATE MEMBERS & GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FROM REP. BILL SEITZ January 12, 2018
The wind lobby is ramping up its minions to tout a new “statewide poll” commissioned by the (astroturf) Ohio Conservative Energy Forum purporting to show that conservatives “overwhelmingly support clean energy policies.” They even went so far as to draft “social media posts that we’d appreciate your help in amplifying the message and results.”
I’m here to do my part to “amplify the message” with some inconvenient truths. Here goes.
“76% of conservative voters SUPPORT changing setback limits to allow more wind energy development”
If that’s so, then they will gladly vote in local elections to adopt lesser setbacks for wind farms in their backyards. As a “conservative voter”, I have proposed allowing township, city, or village voters to approve lesser setbacks in an election held for that purpose. If Big Wind really has 76% support for changed limits, these elections should result in landslide victories. (In Michigan, Big Wind lost 14 consecutive elections, though–an inconvenient truth!).
“85% of conservative voters voiced willingness to personally pay more for their electricity if sourced from renewable energy sources”
That’s great news, because all Ohioans can make that choice now! As Representative Roegner has amply demonstrated, there are electric suppliers on the PUCO website from whom anyone can buy 100% renewable power if they are indeed willing “to personally pay more.” With that kind of support, mandates are simply unnecessary. All that needs to happen is for those “85% of conservative voters” to put their money where their polling mouth is! A better question, neither asked nor answered by the poll, is: so why aren’t these “conservative voters” taking advantage of the options they currently have to buy energy sourced from renewables? (An inconvenient truth: very few are doing so).
“Conservative voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies”
You bet they do. But mandates are not a conservative’s way of getting there. True conservatives use their own money to further policies in which they believe. I needed no “mandate” to install rooftop solar on my house last year. Legislation that we have supported promotes customers choosing to opt-in or opt-out of renewable and energy efficiency mandates; expands the definition of efficiency to include more means of becoming efficient; expands the definition of renewables to include additional kinds of renewable energy; and promotes property assessed clean energy as a financing tool to fund energy efficiency projects that businesses and homeowners voluntarily choose to undertake (inconvenient truth: supporting clean energy policies does not mean exporting some people’s policy preferences by having other people pay for those choices).
“Ohio conservatives are ready to allow the farmers the opportunity to decide what’s best for their business and property.”
Conservatives also believe that farmers’ private property rights don’t extend to stealing their neighbors’ land to satisfy the required setbacks of wind turbines from neighbors’ property lines. Farmers and their neighbors should be allowed to waive required setbacks (current law allows this), and they should be able to enjoy a local vote on whether setbacks should be reduced to promote wind farms. And when those farmers are deciding what’s best, maybe they need to know the inconvenient truth: according to the world’s leading renewable energy insurance underwriter, every year on average there are 3,800 incidents of blade failure, 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure, and 50 turbine fires—each with an average claims cost of $4.5 million. See attached May 23, 2017 article.
“Conservatives realize that if Ohio wants to attract businesses such as Amazon and Facebook, renewable energy is key”
And both under current Ohio law and HB 114, Amazon and Facebook are free to buy as much renewable energy as they want. They just want YOUR constituents to pay the premium! Not very conservative. The inconvenient truth: if “renewable energy is key” to Amazon’s business location, then why did Amazon spend over $1 billion to locate in Kentucky—a state with NO MANDATES and NO WIND FARMS?
If you have any questions about this, please feel free to give me a call. Even if the poll is correct, it only proves that the path we are taking is consistent with what true conservative energy voters want.
William J. Seitz