The Big Data (Amazon) Center ‘Deception’

As the year ended, Senator Matt Dolan’s New Year’s Resolution appears to be his commitment to re-introduce his wind turbine setback legislation as fast as he can in 2019.  Speaking to the statehouse news service, “Sen. Dolan said he plans to continue working to better inform his colleagues about the issue, describing it as an “education process.”   That would otherwise be known as a “disinformation” campaign and will require State Senators and Representatives in the NW quadrant of Ohio to be effective spokespersons skilled at countering the fake news.  By way of example, Sen. Bob Hackett of Madison County is adamant that there are no setbacks in any state bordering Ohio that are longer than Ohio’s.  Because he has been misled, Hackett intends to help Sen. Dolan in the 133rd General Assembly as a co-sponsor of a setback bill.  

The Senate will return to session to start the 133rd General Assembly on Monday, Jan. 7. The Senate’s calendar calls for members to be back in Columbus for a full session after that on January 30. The committee hearing process is set to begin on Tuesday, Feb. 5.  The House has yet to release its session schedule for the new year.

In addition to setback legislation, the Senate is likely to consider a ZEN bill which provides a Zero Emissions Nuclear energy program to bail out First Energy.  Not surprisingly, this idea is vigorously opposed by left-wing groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists who think support for nuclear energy is a way to block clean/renewable energy.   Whatever the outcome, there is no way some wind farms in NW Ohio can replace the jobs lost or devastating economic dislocation brought about by the closing of nuclear facilities. Nuclear facilities employee MANY people and provide HIGH paying jobs….UNLIKE BigWind.

One of principal arguments for wind and solar development put forward by politicians is the need to have renewable energy available for the new tech economy and, in particular, fast growing data centers. We decided to look into this a little deeper and were surprised to find that Amazon Web Services does not support that view. In fact, their much touted contract to buy the power generated by EverPower’s Scioto Ridge (aka Hardin Wind) in Hardin and parts of Logan County was quietly ripped up in 2017.

In a December 14, 2018 press report from The Information, a “senior AWS executive told colleagues inside the company that renewable energy projects are too costly and don’t help it win business.”  The article goes on to say that data center operators purchase wind for “the public relations benefits that come from being good corporate citizens and also to lock in long-term power supply contracts.  In a moment of candor, Amazon admits renewables are too costly and they have not made any wind purchases in over two years since they walked away from EverPower’s Scioto Ridge.  CONFIRMATION OF OUR MESSAGE FOR YEARS!!

Greenpeace, Sierra and other environmental activists are going after Amazon to force them into achieving 100% renewable power by 2020.  That is a tall order.  Amazon currently stands at 50%+ renewable.  It is sickening that the charade of renewable energy being able to affordably and reliably power intensive energy users is allowed to warp reasoned energy policy.  It is worse that politicians like Senator Dolan play a part in this charade.

In the meantime, earlier this month Ohio Montauk Innovations LLC, a Google data center affiliate, received a set of incentives from the State of Ohio for a $600 million data center in New Albany, a high income suburb of Columbus. The project is intended to create $2.5 million in payroll.  The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 100 percent, 15-year data center sales tax exemption, though it has the option to be renewed for up to 40 years through October 30, 2058.  That agreement would be worth $43.5 million over the life of the tax credit, which it can claim on sales and use taxes associated with data center equipment purchases at the site. 

Approximately one mile from the new Google data center, Facebook is building a $750 million data center.  A recent look at national data center development by Data Center Dynamics explains that “the American Midwest has become a region of choice for colocation and data center investments, offering a cost-effective and reliable alternative to many densely populated coastal regions. Also, being centrally located between both coasts affords an abundance of network connectivity and affordable power, it’s pretty easy to understand why this region continues to develop. “   

Given the above, we can say once again that the “emperor has no clothes”.   Data Centers aren’t waiting on reduced wind turbine setbacks or renewable energy mandates in Ohio to build.   But data centers  do need affordable energy.   If they are forced to buy Ohio renewables by environmental activists and politicians who want to look ‘green,’  that high-cost energy would need to be made cheaper by federal PTC subsidies, county Payments-in-Lieu-of Tax (PILOT), and stolen easements across non-participating properties through setbacks measured from homes.   Otherwise, data centers can buy cheaper renewables from windier states.  They could also buy nuclear energy which eco-activists oppose despite it being clean energy.   And then there is always natural gas! Or clean coal!

An important article in this issue speaks to “energy realism” as demonstrated by the United States at the recent climate conference in Poland.  “There are reasonable nations who are willing to confront the fundamental financial and technological realities of today’s energy landscape. By hosting a side panel at the climate talks focusing on how nuclear energy and technology to burn fossil fuels cleanly can contribute to achieving emissions goals, the U.S. has positioned itself firmly as the leader of the latter.”

 “The Trump administration’s willingness to shake off pressure from other developed countries to focus exclusively on renewable energy fits into the policy of energy realism which has characterized Rick Perry’s tenure at the U.S. Energy Department. Secretary Perry laid out his vision for American energy policy in March at the CERA Week energy conference in Houston, emphasizing that “we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and caring for our environment. By embracing innovation over regulation, we can benefit both.” 

 Elsewhere:

 

sPower has opened an office in downtown Tiffin to promote its Seneca Wind project.    A Seneca County resident pens an excellent Letter to the Editor on why wind developments do not belong in Seneca County.

In Lancaster County, Nebraska, local zoning for noise was changed at the request of NextEra.  The newly approved rules set a 50-decibel upper limit around the clock for participating property owners. There is no change in the county noise rules for nonparticipating landowners.  It was noted that most of the participating landowners do not live in the project area and will be unaffected by the change.  

In Pennsylvania, a township zoning board denied an application by Atlantic Wind to build a wind facility. “The decision was met with applause and cheers from township residents, whom religiously attended zoning hearings to make their opposition to the project clear. Among their primary concerns were water quality, noise and sight disturbances form the turbines, its close proximity to the proposed PennEast Pipeline and the potential harm the turbines could inflict on birds and bats.”

 Apex sold its second project in Illinois to Liberty Power, a unit of Canadian Algonquin Power.  Upon completion, the Sugar Creek project will then be sold to Atlantica Yield.  It’s all about the money!  It appears that the Apex model is to sell projects, raise money and develop more.  They may not be a long term partner in any community.   In South Dakota, Apex sold the 151MW Dakota Range III wind project to French independent power producer Engie. 

BP has also sold three wind developments.  “The deal, whose financial terms were not disclosed, underscores the churn taking place in the US wind market as the reduction of the federal wind tax credit and growing cost-competitiveness of wind energy brings in new types of investors, including many deep-pocketed asset managers and pension funds.  It also highlights the move to repower or upgrade projects across the 90GW US wind fleet, as projects built in the market’s early years begin to show their age.”  Vestas will fulfill the orders for the upgrade.  A Vestas executive remarked that “With the exponential advancements in wind technology over the last decade, the turbines of today barely resemble the turbines of yesterday,” says Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the US and Canada.”   This makes the case for full OPSB review of any amendments to projects that were previously approved.

CleanTechnica, a left-wing renewable advocate raves about the momentum in wind development as though it will replace coal. They also tout its (albeit subsidized) price competitiveness.

Finally, Ohio has moved into the top five for recoverable shale natural gas reserves in the United States.  Data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the state saw a 24.5 percent increase in proved shale gas reserves from 2016 to 2017, bringing it to 25.6 trillion cubic feet. That moves Ohio past Oklahoma and behind only Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and Louisiana.  We say – if you’ve got it, flaunt it!…

Monday, December 24, 2018

Senate Sponsor Vows to Continue Efforts to Revise Wind Setbacks in Next General Assembly

 

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) said he hasn’t given up on revising Ohio’s wind turbine setback laws despite legislative inaction this session.

 

Although the House and Senate are expected to return to wrap up final business this week, Sen. Dolan’s attempts to gain caucus support for his proposal to loosen setbacks (SB 239) seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

 

Sen. Dolan says he doesn’t expect any last-minute amendment to accomplish his goal during lame duck. The setbacks were controversially increased in 2014 when the House amended a separate bill (HB483, 130th General Assembly) hours before its passage, increasing restrictions in a way wind supporters say stifled the industry.

 

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t even get hearings on the bill in practically the last year,” Sen. Dolan said in an interview. “I’ll bring it right back up.”

 

His proposal would have increased the setback to 1.2 times the blade’s length – up from the current 1.1 times – while at the same time requiring the minimum distance from the nearest blade to be measured from the nearest residential structure rather than the nearest property line. The net impact of those changes would shorten the required setback.

 

Sen. Dolan said the crux of the proposal will likely remain the same when he reintroduces it next year.

 

“I drove up to northwest Ohio and met with a lot of folks up there so there are some minor changes I could make as to the process and we could monkey a little with the distance too but it’s the same concept,” he said.

Democrats too are likely to renew their own efforts on setbacks. Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) and Sen. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) also authored measures to revise setbacks this year, although with a Republican supermajority in both chambers it was Sen. Dolan’s bill – and its predecessor from former Sen. Cliff Hite – that received the most consideration.

 

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) continues to say that a “significant portion” of his caucus believes the current setbacks are too restrictive.

 

But the House, which inserted the original amendment, has been more reluctant and fought hard against Senate-proposed revisions during the last budget. They’ve argued lowering the threshold would place homeowners at risk of being hit by ice or blades in the case of a failure.

 

Sen. Dolan said he plans to continue working to better inform his colleagues about the issue, describing it as an “education process.”

 

“On a macro level we need to make sure when we say we’re an all the above energy state we truly are so that on a micro level those that wish to invest in alternative energy know Ohio’s a safe place to invest, that those who want to purchase their power from alternative energy know Ohio will produce it for them,” Sen. Dolan said.

 

“So, it’s a bill that looks toward tomorrow more than anything,” he continued. “What worries me is if we dig our heels in in allowing new development – not only energy – it sends a message to other industries too that anything new, anything cutting edge, anything a little bit controversial Ohio’s going to shrink from? No. Ohio’s got to work to make sure we’re welcoming that type of innovation. That’s why it’s so important to me.”

 

Business leaders have also increasingly pressed lawmakers to act on the issue. Most recently, a coalition of Ohio corporations urged policymakers to adopt a more consistent approach to energy policy, including revising the setbacks.

 

Meanwhile, a group of Paulding County farmers last month filed a lawsuit in common pleas court against the state alleging the 2014 amendment violated the single-subject provisions of the Ohio Constitution.

 

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Apex Clean Energy handed big ‘blow’ in Van Wert, Ohio

 

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The Van Wert county overwhelmingly said NO to a county commissioner who strongly supported  Apex Clean Energy!  The same occurred, across the border, in Cass County, IN…

The TRUTH is hard to hide and it is out. BigWind is a bully across America. It divides families and communities and damages our energy security b/c it is an intermittent energy source that must be backed up 100% of the time. People are becoming educated….

Do you think our legislators are paying attention???? Columbus should be, particularly before they sign a new law that shortens our setbacks!!!

‘The’ Weather Channel attacks conservative Ohio citizens

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.

 

CLAIM:

“76% of conservative voters SUPPORT changing setback limits to allow more wind energy development”

 

RESPONSE:

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!).

 

CLAIM:

“85% of conservative voters voiced willingness to personally pay more for their electricity if sourced from renewable energy sources”

 

RESPONSE:

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).

 

CLAIM:

“Conservative voters overwhelmingly support clean energy policies”

 

RESPONSE:

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).

 

CLAIM:

“Ohio conservatives are ready to allow the farmers the opportunity to decide what’s best for their business and property.”

 

RESPONSE:

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.

 

CLAIM:

“Conservatives realize that if Ohio wants to attract businesses such as Amazon and Facebook, renewable energy is key”

 

RESPONSE:

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

William J. Seitz