Senator Seitz announces “devastating testimony” against BigWind

Yesterday the PBS station in Cleveland sponsored a debate with Sen. Seitz, Economist Jonathon Lesser, Terrence O’Donnell for Advanced Energy Ohio (and son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice) and John Colm of Cleveland-based WIRE-net.  The link to the audio is: http://www.ideastream.org/soi/entry/59840.   In the press coverage below, you will see that Senator Seitz is confident the Senate will pass some form of mandate repeal before the end of the year.   There are several options under consideration for renewable energy.  First would be the repeal of the in-state mandate which the Senator believes is unconstitutional.  Next he proposes freezing the annual renewable benchmark at the current level and not ever increasing it. There will likely be some negotiating on this point but we will stay closely involved…. 

“I can’t predict which approach will find favor, but something will happen in calendar year 2014, immediately before or after November elections,” the Republican from Cincinnati told a Monday morning program on WCPN, Cleveland’s National Public Radio station.

Seitz was part of a panel of proponents and opponents the radio program gathered to discuss his bill, which last week had its first hearing of 2014 after being shelved in late 2013 because of a lack of support.

Seitz re-introduced the bill because of new “devastating testimony” from an industry-sponsored study that refuted a previous study that found flaws in Seitz’s bill. The person who conducted that survey, Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics Inc., was on the radio program along with Seitz.

via Seitz expects Senate Bill 58 to gain favor with legislators in 2014 – Columbus – Columbus Business First.

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Imagine 1 turbine every 10 miles across the ENTIRE state of Ohio!

Last week, the Senate Public Utilities Committee resumed hearings on Sub. Senate Bill 58 to modify the energy mandates. Excerpts from 1 of the testimonies is below.  The testimony of Kevon Martis notes that to fulfill the Ohio renewable mandate would require 6,765 MW’s of installed wind capacity with a generous capacity factor of 30%.  That translates into 4,000 1.7MW G.E. turbines or one turbine per every ten square miles across the entire State of Ohio.   When you consider that commercially viable wind resources are only present in less than 5% of Ohio’s land mass, it means fulfillment of the mandate would eventually obliterate certain counties. What would this do for future economic growth? Future residential growth and property taxes? This scenario is a nightmare, but not as much as the one noted below. Our pitiful setbacks from residences, instead of property lines, means that children can end up playing in a dangerous area – an area that the industry considers necessary to mandate that their workers wear hardhats and steel toed boots.  In some cases, this area could even be located on a school property, where we believe our children should be “safe”…

Testimony of Joshua J. Nolan, Esq., IICC…

As an attorney licensed in both Ohio and Michigan, I have represented individuals, farmers, wind turbine lease holders, and non-profit corporations whom are faced with questions surrounding industrial wind turbines.  Some of those clients have sought my counsel prior to the construction of any turbines in their area, whereas other have attempted to take action only after their landscape has been altered forever.  When possible, I volunteer my services to help educate others of the dangers of improperly sited industrial wind turbines….

As this panel is undoubtedly aware, the constitutionality of Ohio’s in-state generation mandate is highly questionable.  Although stated in dicta, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals made it crystal clear that in-state generation mandates like those contained in Michigan’s P.A. 295 (which is substantially similar to Ohio’s SB221) are viewed as unconstitutional encroachments upon Congress’ exclusive authority to regulate interstate commerce.  If, as Judge Posner stated, “Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause of Article 1 of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy,” neither can Ohio.

Because of this unconstitutional in-state generation mandate, SB221 was successful in creating a market for renewable energy where none existed.  However, many Ohio residents have paid a steep price to create that market.  Because SB221 demands that Ohio produce a certain amount of renewable energy, regardless of its suitability for producing such energy.  Ohio residents have been forced to deal with the consequences of an industry ill-suited for its environment due to population density and questionable wind resources.  These factors have led to the improper and unsafe siting of industrial wind turbines throughout rural Ohio, without due regard for their impact on existing residents….

SB 221’s unconstitutional in-state generation mandate is the reason that children (whom have not even left their own yards) are forced to live and play inside the danger zones within which turbine manufacturers require their own employees to wear hard hats and steel toe boots.  And that same constitutional in-state generation mandate is used as a shield to defend against claims from those whose lives have been disrupted by noise pollution and sleep deprivation following the forced placement of industrial wind turbines next to their home….

To be clear, the need to end this oppression of Ohio’s rural residents is neither a Republican, nor a Democratic issue.  It is not a Conservative or a Progressive issue.  This is an issue that crosses all races, religions, creeds, colors, and yes, even political parties.  Low frequency noise emitted by industrial wind turbines knows no color, race, or gender.  Shadow flicker does not distinguish on the basis of income or one’s belief in the proper role of government.  A chunk of flying turbine blade debris will not alter its flight because the adjacent landowner voted Democratic in the last election….

What is the TRUE cost of electricity in Ohio? (Truth about Turbines)

The year 2013 was a renewable energy roller coaster in the Ohio State House.  On the positive side, after the Senate Public Utilities Committee spent about a year reviewing Ohio’s energy mandates, Substitute Senate Bill 58 was introduced to significantly alter both the energy efficiency and renewable requirements for Ohio.  A companion bill,  House Bill 302 was introduced in the House Public Utilities Committee in order to move the process along.  Senate Committee Chairman Bill Seitz was confident that the bill would pass the Senate before year-end.  That did not happen due to lack of support from several Republican Committee members – Sen. Cliff Hite from Findlay representing Van Wert and Paulding Counties and Sen. Frank LaRose from the Cleveland area where wind proponents are eager to put turbines in Lake Erie.

The important point to understand is that no one needs a state mandated directive to build a wind turbine – anyone can put one up.  But both Hite and LaRose claim that wind development probably won’t happen without mandates.  Hite and LaRose are not representing the best interests of Ohioans.  They are representing the special interests of the wind industry whose product is so ill-suited to Ohio that they require mandates.

 If federal and state subsidies as well as state mandates are renewed, this could well be how Everpower (central Ohio) will market its stock once Terra Firma is spun off.  “A stable investment backed by Ohio renewable energy mandates and subsidized by the federal  taxpayer through the Production Tax Credit, by Ohio consumers who are paying triple the cost  for wind electricity  and the people of Champaign County through generous tax abatement.”     

During the course of the year, a federal court noted that Michigan’s mandate to purchase in-state generated wind was a violation of the US Commerce Clause and therefore was unconstitutional.   Senator Seitz believes Ohio’s in-state mandate is also  unconstitutional.   While SB 58 will continue to be debated, another bill introduced by Senator Kris Jordan, to repeal outright the renewable energy mandate will also be heard in Committee.  The pressure will continue.  The role of Senator Keith Faber, President of the Senate, will be key.

In other 2013 legislative action, the wind industry gained two victories during the state budget process.  Rather than debating in an open, public forum, Senator Chris Widener from the Springfield area helped the wind industry derail efforts to increase setbacks and require measurement from property lines.   Setbacks were slightly increased to 1,125 feet from a home but this was a meaningless increase as almost all projects currently meet that standard.  Efforts to require 1,250 feet failed.    In addition, Widener extended the life of the PILOT program for tax abatement that was scheduled to expire on December 31st.   

We look forward to continuing the Ohio battle in 2014 and know that the wind industry will redouble its efforts.   Many of the Ohio House Representatives were not in office when the energy mandates were enacted and a number appear to be weary of the industry’s relentless efforts to keep the spigots open.   The price of natural gas in Ohio will continue to have a significant effect on the course of energy policy as well as any initiatives coming out of the White House.  Sen. Seitz continues to be motivated and the Governor is looking wobbly.   At the Ohio Chamber, the Governor was reported to say:

 “What we do by mandating these things is we put some people who are in manufacturing in a very  difficult position. You drive up their costs and you put people out of work.” he said in response to a question during the Ohio Chamber of Commerce’s year-end event.  “Now I don’t think we should do away with renewable standards or renewables or anything,” he added. “But let’s be practical about how to get there. If we have to delay the implementation for a couple of years, that’s fine because we don’t want people to go out of work.”

The Governor has an election coming up and he may be hamstrung by the need for votes in the Cleveland area.   Time will tell….

Electricity prices in Ohio have risen approximately triple the national average since Ohio enacted renewable power mandates in 2008. The sharp rise in electricity prices occurred despite promises during 2008 legislative hearings that renewable power mandates would have little or no impact on electricity prices.

In 2008 the Ohio legislature passed legislation creating the state’s renewable power mandates. Under the mandates, Ohioans must purchase 25 percent of their electricity from designated renewable sources by the year 2025.Sharply Rising Prices

Since 2008, U.S. electricity prices have risen merely 3 percent. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. electricity prices were 9.81 cents per kilowatt hour in 2008. As of September 2013, the latest date for which EIA published electricity prices when this article went to press, U.S. electricity prices were 10.13 cents per kilowatt hour.

In Ohio, by contrast, electricity prices since 2008 have risen 9 percent. EIA reports Ohio electricity prices in 2008 were 8.44 cents per kilowatt hour. As of September 2013, Ohio electricity prices were 9.19 cents per kilowatt hour.Directly Traceable to Renewables

The rise in Ohio electricity prices closely tracks the increasing generation of costly renewable power. Wind power comprises nearly all renewable power generation in Ohio. Since 2008, Ohio has quintupled the share of its electricity mix generated from wind power. In 2008, according to EIA, Ohio generated 0.4 percent of its electricity from wind power. As of September 2013, 2.1 percent of Ohio’s electricity was wind-generated.

via Electricity Prices Rise Dramatically Under Ohio Renewable Mandates | Clearing the Air | NCPA.org.