Ohio residents fighting BigWind

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Thank you to The Toledo Blade for covering some realities that the media often ignores, even if a little of the information is wrong. Ohio is NOT a great place for wind turbines. Look at the government wind map on our home page for proof.  Additionally, it is IMPORTANT for you to notice the bold blue mid page.  One BigWind development often leads to more….

Look almost anywhere across the United States and the fight against wind turbines comes down to a simple mathematical formula that involves people.

That’s the assessment of Jim Feasel, a fierce opponent of wind power and a resident of Seneca County’s Eden Township….

It’s all about the number of people per square mile. More people equals more conflict, Mr. Feasel said.

Seneca County has about 103 people per square mile, more than many parts of the country where the wind industry prospers and slightly more than the average square mile in the United States, according to the U.S. Census. Van Wert County, which hosts three-quarters of Ohio’s largest wind farm, the 152-turbine Blue Creek Wind Farm,has 72 people per square mile. Paulding County, home to the other quarter of that $600 million project, has less than half the density of Seneca County, with 49 people per square mile….

“It’s a topic you don’t bring up in a room of friends,” Mr. Feasel said. “All of the problems go away when you put [turbines] in areas where there aren’t people.”

He and Deb Hay of Thompson Township are among many residents behind a grass-roots group called the Seneca Anti-Wind Union. The group has drawn crowds in excess of 500 people to rallies twice this year…

Five Seneca County townships comprise the footprint for one of the projects at the center of the Seneca County dispute: Utah-based sPower’s proposed 85-turbine Seneca Wind farm, which the Ohio Power and Siting Board is expected to decide on in early 2019. The project is estimated to cost between $275 and $300 million and is expected to generate $56 million in tax revenue for schools and other local government bodies…

Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy’s $92 million Republic Wind project calls for 58 turbines, each about 591 feet tall, spread across different rural Seneca County townships, according to Ohio Siting Board records…

As if there weren’t enough controversy now, Republic also has two even-bigger projects in the early stages of planning in that part of northwest Ohio: its proposed Emerson Creek Wind project, which calls for 65 to 85 turbines in Erie and Huron counties, and its proposed Honey Creek Wind project, which calls for about 80 turbines in Seneca and Crawford counties…

Rural northwest Ohio is considered one of the state’s best regions for wind farm development…THIS IS WRONG! SEE our HOMEpage picture (near bottom)

Still, in Seneca County emotions are flying high, with several residents saying the projects have torn apart extended families and driven a wedge between longstanding friendships with neighbors.

“I’m concerned about this bitterness,” Greg Smith, a Bloom Township resident and Seneca Anti-Wind Union leader, said. “When you talk about the hard feelings and the divide it has created, it’s big time.”…

“I’ve had a number of people in my office with tears in their eyes worried about their home value and their quality of life,” Mr. Thomas said. “But their neighbor owns the land [next to them] and it’s a legal act in the state of Ohio. There’s the issue. It’s a property rights issue.”

Mr. Thomas has been a target of critics for several reasons, including testimony he delivered to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee on June 7, 2017, in which he sought a repeal of the setback rules the legislature passed four years ago. Those rules require 1,225 feet seperate the tip of a turbine from the nearest property.

Several developers have said those rules are too restrictive, and critics are incensed that Mr. Thomas told the Senate panel 16 months ago that most Seneca County property owners were in favor of softer setback requirements when many of them hadn’t even heard of the Republic Wind project back then.

Although developers began courting property owners as far back as a decade ago, details weren’t unveiled to the public until Republic Wind held an open house in Green Springs, Ohio, last December

Another thing that draws ire from critics is Mr. Thomas’ steadfast refusal to help townships be represented affordably in the Ohio Power Siting Board’s review process.

Mr. Thomas said he and Commissioner Holly Stacy, the other person on the three-member county board who favors the wind projects, have hired a former Apex attorney, Michael Settineri, to represent the county commission for the OPSB proceedings at a rate of $480 an hour. Many believe the county will end up paying more than $100,000 for his expertise.

“Commissioners are using our taxpayer dollars to hire a high-priced attorney to fight us,” Mr. Smith said.

Seneca County Prosecutor Derek W. DeVine, who normally would represent the commission, has offered to represent the townships but only if there is unanimous consent between them and county commissioners. The lone holdout is Mr. Thomas, who said he won’t grant consent because he believes that would jeopardize his attorney-client privilege with Mr. DeVine….

sPower’s Seneca Wind project calls for machines that are 652 feet up into the air at the apex of their blades, which would make them among the tallest structures in northwest Ohio. Only a few turbines in Texas are that tall…

 

Toledo Blade

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Isn’t 143 turbines enough? (In rural Ohio)

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This is a very sad tale about our friends in Northern Ohio. It highlights why it so important to know who you are voting for, on the local, state and national levels.  We suspect the next county commissioner race will end with some new faces….

If you are paying attention, you know Seneca County is on schedule to have a total of 143 wind turbines as high as the tallest buildings in Columbus built in two projects here over the next couple years. Unlike other areas where these monstrosities are usually built, our county has many dispersed residential homesites. Of the almost 56,000 people in Seneca County, well over half live in the rural areas. This means that no matter where the 143 turbines are placed, there will be many people living nearby each one of them.

Despite what you may read or hear from the wind companies, living close to a wind turbine is not so great. Maybe a fun place to visit, but not a fun place to live….

County commissioners Holly Stacy and Shayne Thomas want wind turbines in our county so bad that they insist on giving them huge local property tax discounts to get them here. Because of the massive federal tax incentives, building wind projects is a lucrative and profitable business. That is why they are being built. They do not need further property tax abatement from our county. We will be the ones forced to live under the turbines. We should not have to offer discounts for the “pleasure” of putting up with them….

You may not know yet, but besides the two projects totaling 143 turbines, there are at least three more projects being put together behind the scenes in this county that could announce themselves any day. They probably will be another 50-100 turbines each. Isn’t 143 enough for now? Do you think we need to add more before we have even seen the first ones? Do you think we should continue to offer massive tax breaks to entice more to build?

Your county is about to change forever in a big way. A recent professional online poll found that 3 out of 4 people in Seneca County do not want any of this to happen…

Article

Will (Ohio) property values be ‘Gone w the Wind’?

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As BigWind pushes Northern Ohio, one resident sees through the smoke and mirrors…

The Big Wind industry will use studies and carefully massaged statistics to send a message to communities hosting “wind farms that there is no real loss of property value. Well, as wind leases continue to be signed throughout Seneca, Sandusky, Huron and Erie counties, let’s take a closer look before we get blown away.

Important to note that all the studies in this article were based on industrial wind turbines that were a maximum of 477 feet tall. Industrial wind turbines proposed for the Seneca, Sandusky, Huron and Erie counties will reach heights of up to 652 feet and possibly much higher than that in future phases of the projects.

The setbacks (how far a turbine can be from a property) were, in some studies, much further than the 1,125-foot setback now required by Ohio law.

Current Ohio setbacks (1,125 feet) are the lowest in the four-state region and significantly lower than other European countries from non-participating properties. Most states and countries require a distance of 3 times the turbine length for safety reasons.

Turbine blade throws are not uncommon. The turbines in Paulding County (290 feet) have had a blade failure. The 7-year-old turbines in Van Wert (467 feet) had a blade throw this past summer that traveled over 800 feet in conditions that did not include high winds. This past spring, a turbine blade was thrown in Hardin County Hog Creek Wind LLC (367 feet). These are just Ohio blade throws.

There are 4-5 homes within a mile of the Hog Creek Wind LLC based on filings at the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Based on reports filed at the Ohio Power Siting Board, there would be about 800 homes within a half mile of the turbines in the proposed Republic Wind LLC and a similar amount within the proposed Seneca Wind LLC.

Home values decline anywhere from 8 percent to 65 percent within a 2-mile radius of the turbines in a “wind farm.”

The median home value in Seneca County is $108,381; in Huron County, it is $129,856; in Erie County, it is $125,400; and in Sandusky County, it is $123,145.

If we take the lowest median home value of $108,381 (could this be why Big Wind decided to pick on Seneca County first) and factor a modest 25-percent loss, that would be $27,095 per home….

The conservative estimated loss of property value within the Bellevue area alone could exceed $27 million!

Conclusion: The above estimate doesn’t take into consideration the increased insurance costs, burdened by leaseholders related to liability in the “wind farm” operation or further damage to home values in Good Neighbor Agreement-Wind Leases. Your county commissioners absolutely have the power to limit or stop these wind projects… Today, the counties of Hardin and Van Wert have rescinded their AEZ contracts and have repelled further wind project proposals for the good of all their residents.

resident of Bellevue

Letter to the Editor link

Ohio BigWind news is spinning fast

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Events are spinning fast in the world of wind.  In just one short week, much occurred in Ohio…

Seneca/Sandusky County

Apex requested the OPSB hearings on Seneca and Sandusky County’s Republic Wind be postponed while they “amend” their project.   Speculation as to the reason behind the delay and the amendment include uncertainty over the outcome of hearings on HB 114 and whether property line setbacks will be reduced.  Apex had anticipated the bill would be passed last spring, but setback changes remain unresolved.  That being the case, it is believed Apex does not have the necessary Good Neighbor Agreements to move forward with their original plan.  There is also talk of Apex moving the location of some turbines out of hostile townships to more welcoming townships. In the event the legislature gives township voters the right of referendum, would taking turbines out of the hostile townships ease Apex’s entry into Seneca County? 

We understand further that two of the Seneca County Commissioners sought legal representation concerning the Republic Wind Project including the existing Alternative Energy Zone designation.  Township trustees also sought legal counsel for the purpose of intervening in the case before the Ohio Power Siting Board.   The County Prosecutor’s Office believed they would be unable to simultaneously represent the opposing interests of the County and the Townships and so the County hired its own lawyer.  They hired Michael Settineri of the Vorys law firm who represents almost all of the wind developers in the state. WOW! 

Apparently, Commissioner Mike Kerschner, who has been sympathetic to people of Seneca County never had a chance to object or participate in discussion about this move.  Something is definitely rotten Seneca County.  Radio ads are also being broadcast in NW Ohio against Kerschner by the ‘Economic Prosperity Project’.  Readers may recall last March when this group sent out a mailer urging that “Republican legislators need to STAND UP to Bill Seitz” because “He is using his influence to prevent $4.2 billion from being invested in Ohio wind energy.”   The address associated with the Economic Prosperity Project was registered to Innovation Ohio, a liberal think tank run by former Speaker Budish’s Democrat chief of staff, Keary McCarthy, and former top Strickland administration policy chief Jeannetta King. The “Economic Prosperity Project” is a new corporation registered to a former Strickland administration operative, too.

While these political shenanigans are playing out in Seneca County, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray is making the rounds in support of wind.   Cordray visited One Energy in Findlay where he expressed his support for wind. Next week he will be joined on the campaign trail by former President Obama.   It is noted also that Cordray appears to be currying favor with farmers who oppose stricter controls on manure disposal in order to clean up Lake Erie.

Huron County

In Huron County, the Greenwich Windpark project has been sold to a company called Swift Current Energy.  A group of mostly Ivy League investment bankers looking to make a bunch of money.  A series of articles below tracks a bit of history surrounding Swift Current.  Readers may recall last year General Motors announced that it would purchase wind from two projects. One project was Northwest Ohio Wind in Paulding County and the other was HillTopper in Logan County, Illinois.   The HillTopper project was a controversial project in Illinois where the original developer agreed to make payments to nonparticipating landowners on an annual basis and to establish a property value insurance program that would be managed through the Logan County tax assessor’s office to compensate homeowners should they experience a loss in the value of their property after the wind farm becomes operational.  

The project never moved forward until recently when Swift Current purchased it and since late 2016 worked to redevelop the HillTopper project, including adding new project participants; redesigning and re-permitting the project; contracting the energy on a long-term basis; and raising financing for the construction and operations of the project. Enel Green Power is managing construction for the project and will be the long-term owner and operator of the wind farm.  The HillTopper project has not been without some local controversy.  We wonder if Swift Current will also seek to sell Greenwich energy output to GM.   It is interesting to see that they were not deterred in buying a troubled Illinois project and getting it up and running by re-engineering the whole project.

In Ohio’s 13th Senate District, Rep. Manning is seeking to swap his seat in the House with his mother who is term limited in the Senate.  This appears distasteful on its face.  Neither Rep. Manning nor his mother, Senator Manning, have seemed interested in or sympathetic to the wind setback concerns of their constituents in Huron and Lorain Counties.   We were interested to read about Rep. Manning’s opponent in the Senate race, Sharon Sweda.   Ms. Sweda has served as president of the Lorain County Association of Realtors, chairman of the board for the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors and district vice president for the Ohio Association of Realtors.  How would she respond to a question about the property value of a home where a neighboring 600’ wind turbine’s nuisance effects trespassed onto the homeowner’s property while also sitting within the strike zone for flying blade fragments?  Someone should ask her on the record! She has nothing to lose by siding with the folks in the Greenwich Windpark footprint.

Lake Erie – Icebreaker

LeedCo and their Enviro buddies are making waves in Lake Erie over the Icebreaker project.  Over the objections of many wildlife advocates who protested the placement of wind turbines in the middle of one of the world’s most important migratory flyways, the OPSB staff recommended approval of the project with conditions.  In response, the backers of the Lake Erie wind farm and environmental and trade groups have agreed to proposed stipulations for the project in an Agreement.  In addition to Icebreaker, parties signing onto the prospective plan include the Ohio Environmental Council, the Sierra Club, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and the Business Network for Offshore Wind.  Now, in an effort to get the OPSB to back off the recommended stipulations, LEEDCo. Vice President of Operations David Karpinski says the stipulations  “make the project un-financeable and therefore are fatal conditions.” 

Migratory Bird Treaty Act Litigation

We hope the OPSB stands its ground and we also hope that they are aware of what is happening in other states with respect to the protection of migratory birds.   The battle over the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has expanded again, with eight states including New York and California filing a new lawsuit challenging the Interior Department’s scaled-back interpretation of the law’s reach.  In the suit filed this week, the states’ attorneys general assert Interior’s action endangers birds and “harms the states’ sovereign, ecological, and economic interests in robust federal protections of migratory birds from industrial and other human activities,” among other problems. Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New Jersey, Maryland and Oregon also joined in the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The lawsuit, as part of an effort to demonstrate that the states have the requisite legal standing, further asserts that “scientific, recreational, and birdwatching opportunities and aesthetic benefits … directly or indirectly generate economic activity and tax revenue for the states.”  

 Maybe Ohio’s Attorney General, Mike DeWine, who is seeking to become our next Governor ought to join the other 8 states in protecting Ohio’s greatest natural resource.  How about it?  No doubt the AG’s staff are currently advising OPSB on how to address the pushback on the recommended stipulations which Icebreaker finds objectionable.  We think this is a BIG DEAL….

**and finally, if you are new to our site and haven’t heard, please read through our past few blogs. On August 26th, a Van Wert, Ohio turbine blade exploded. A 10 foot piece was launched at least 800 feet away….legislative decisions could impact YOU someday!**