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!**

 

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Van Wert blade shear gets NO media attention? Help us change this!

Against the backdrop of an upcoming election and a diminishing legislative calendar, the wind lobby is working overtime to press its case for reduced setbacks.   President Trump is a broken record on fake news but what about “no news”?   A blade failure occurred at Avangrid’s Van Wert County Blue Creek project on August 26th.    The turbines in the project are 476’ and a 10-foot section was documented by the local people via use of a drone to have flown approximately 825’.    Neither a 1.1x turbine height from the property line nor a 1.2x distance as suggested in H.B. 114 would have protected the neighbors, children or livestock from the thrown fragment.   

 

In this recent case, it appears the “systems” designed to stop the turbine did not work.  The rotor continued to spin for at least ten minutes after the blade fragment was thrown.  Neighbors called 911.  The Avangrid representative arrived two hours after the failure.  As far as we know, there has been NO media report or statement from the Blue Creek operator. 

 

Likewise, in Texas where a blade failure caused an overspeed situation and possibility of fire, a family of five was evacuated from their home.   There has been almost no press coverage of this event which occurred on the same day as Blue Creek   Lack of access to timely, actual  failure reports is one more compelling reason for statutory protective setbacks measured from property lines.  As seen in the story below, the mechanical safeguards intended to prevent the Texas overspeed situation, did not work.  ….

Texas family forced to leave home

Ohio politics and BigWind appears to be in Cordray’s pocket

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Election season is underway and they don’t call it the “silly season” for no reason.  A friend shared with is the 2018 Election Guide from the Farm Bureau.  The Guide included some questions and answers posed to the candidates for Governor.  One question was:  “What eminent domain reforms would you be willing to work on to protect property owners?”   Richard Cordray’s response was:

I will fight for farmers to have their day in court, working to bring Ohio back in line with its neighbors and federal law. The setback requirements for wind turbines that were recently imposed under Ohio law are an example  of restrictions on the rights of property owners that restrict the full economic potential of our rural areas, such as in northwest Ohio.”

So, if we read this right, Cordray believes a landowner has some kind of right to endanger a neighbor and trespass with nuisance effects.  Moreover, it appears he thinks there is some kind of eminent domain right for a wind developer to put turbines wherever they feel like it.  Yikes!

 

Following this “theme” the left wing group, Conservation Ohio, announced a $50,000 digital ad buy to boost Mr. Cordray’s gubernatorial campaign. The ads, which will run on Facebook, are designed to highlight Mr. Cordray’s position on energy issues. “Rich Cordray will be a governor who will fight for our environment, and defend us against the Trump Administration’s toxic environmental agenda,” Director Aryeh Alex said in a statement.

 

In Seneca County where Rep. Reineke listened to his constituents and supported their pleas for protective setbacks measured from property lines, a clean energy-supported group called Checks and Balances has filed Freedom of Information requests at Reineke’s office to learn about who is influencing him.  At the same time, Seneca County Commissioner, Mike Kerschner, who supports rescinding the county’s Alternative Energy Zone designation, is also the subject of a FOIA request.

 

As the General Assembly heads back to work after the Labor Day holiday, there is speculation on how the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairmanship will be filled after Troy Balderson won election to the U.S. Congress.   Interestingly, Senate President Obhof indicated he might merge the Committee into either the Senate Public Utilities Committee or the Senate Agriculture Committee.  Obhof was quoted saying a decision was likely this week.  House Bill 114 that proposes to reduce wind turbine setbacks is currently pending in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

 

Obhof remarked in a Statehouse news report that “I think it’ll be a relatively seamless transition regardless of who the chairman is or whether we decide to combine committees,” Sen. Obhof said. “If we do combine committees we’ll…divide (bills) up among committees that would have jurisdiction. Most of the members in the Senate serve on four or five or six committees so people are familiar with the issues that are pending.”

The Senate Public Utilities Committee is chaired by Sen. Beagle and the VC is Senator McColley.  Others on the Committee are Republican Sens. Burke, Eklund, Matt Huffman. Kris Jordan, La Rose, Tehar and Uecker.  Democrat Senators are  Williams, O’Brien and Sykes.   The Senate Ag Committee is chaired by Senator Hackett, and VC Hoagland, with Republican Sens. Beagle, Kunze, LaRose, McColley, Peterson and Uecker.   Democrat Senators are O’Brien, Skindell and Tavares….

Have you contacted your legislator to share your views about the setback debate??????

 

 

Van Wert, Ohio Turbine BREAKS and throws debris >800 feet!

 

This blade failure happened Saturday in Van Wert County, Ohio. Second failure here in Van Wert in less then 7 yrs of operation. Here are the significant FACTS about this failure:

This wasn’t a storm incident with high winds and still managed to throw debri over 800’.

The debri from this turbine was thrown past the setback distance that was in place at the time it was installed (7 years ago).

With the new proposed setback distances in Ohio here is how far these turbines will be from your property line.
475’ turbine as shown. 570’
600’ turbine new proposed. 720’

One thing that this failure DIDNT do was throw debris past the current standing setback law of 1000’ to a property line.

Doesn’t take too much common sense here to see that Ohio current setback laws were made to protect the community and if anything need to be lengthened.

Which local news media will get out from under the thumb of the wind industry and post this???

Will Tucker Carlson side with the people or BigWind? Watch Tuesday 8pm

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We understand that at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14th, Tucker Carlson
will air a segment on Fox News exploring the impact of industrial wind
development in the path of military aviation assets.  Carlson’s guest on the
program will be Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, author of legislation
enacted last year prohibiting tax incentives for wind energy projects within
25 miles of military aviation bases that use fixed-wing aircraft.  This
legislation – now law –  passed the Texas House 134 to 10. It is intended to
protect military bases from encroachment issues relating to airspace as well
as effects of radar equipment. THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL! THIS IS THE 1ST TIME THIS ISSUE HAS GARNED NATIONAL MEDIA ATTENTION!!

In the last issue of Wind News we urged everyone to watch the Ohio Supreme
Court proceedings in the Ohio Black fork Wind case:
http://www.ohiochannel.org/collections/supreme-court-of-ohio;jsessionid=c5aa
45e7c644f61e80911ac6db7e?0
.  If you have not watched, we encourage you to do

so.  This week, Black Fork filed another appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court
challenging the Ohio Power Siting Board’s second extension of time to
January 23, 2020, the use of a new turbine model, the Vestas V110 2.2 M, and
the denial of the intervenors’ request for a rehearing. A copy of the appeal
is attached.  It is notable in this case that Black Fork previously added
the Vestas 2.0 MW model though filing an Amendment but when they sought to
upgrade the model once again, Black Fork did not file an amendment. Black
Fork thus was able to evade the revised property line setbacks established
in 2014.

In other news:

OHIO

*       The Cleveland Plain Dealer tries to make a big deal out of local
citizens receiving help from the owner of Murray Coal in challenging the
Lake Erie Icebreaker project.  Mr. Murray responds to the paper with a
Letter to the Editor which is followed by  a comment that asks “Are you
aware that, by spending $126 million in another way, we could build
generating capacity able to produce roughly 12 times more electricity and
eliminate 6 times more annual CO2 emissions than the Icebreaker wind
turbines?” Another commenter claims wind turbines must be put in the lake
because of restrictive rules for land-based turbines.

*       The Ohio Agricultural Law Blog addresses whether someone can
interfere with the surface water drainage on someone else’s property.  The
answer to this question lies in Ohio’s “reasonable use doctrine,” which
establishes guidelines for when a landowner has a legal right to affect the
drainage of surface water onto another property.  The new law bulletin,
“Surface Water Drainage Rights”” explains this important legal doctrine.

*       A story from the Sandusky area caught our attention as State Rep
Michael Sheehy, D-Oregon, said he’s concerned people in cities won’t be
represented when lawmakers form a new committee to study harmful algal
blooms in western Lake Erie. He thinks people from the city who need clean
water ought to have a seat at the table when Ag and the Farm Bureau discuss
how to reduce algal blooms.  We included this article because wondered if
someone will try claim that people in cities who want to breath clean air
should have a say in wind energy.  We could be stretching it a bit but you
never know….

What do we do with Toxic BigWind trash??

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More than 10,000 of the existing 28,000 turbines need to be decommissioned!! Can you imagine multiple industrial wind energy sites like this? When each one consumes tens of thousands of acres? What are we doing to our landscape, our neighbors, our countryside. Oh, but wait, we forgot, BigWind claims THEY will decommission and take care of their machines- HAHAHA.  And, how, my goodness, HOW is this environmentally friendly? It’s NOT! It’s time to change the discussion and highlight the truth about these industrial sites. There is nothing green about industrial wind energy turbines….except the green $$$ the taxpayer gives to them…

Germany has more than 28,000 wind turbines — but many are old and by 2023 more than a third must be decommissioned. Disposing of them is a huge environmental problem. Expert Jan Tessmer tells DW he’s optimistic.

DW: Dr Tessmer, disposing of wind turbines is extremely difficult.  Their concrete bases go as deep as 30 meters into the ground, and are hard to fully remove, while the rotor blades contain glass and carbon fibers — they give off dust and toxic gases so burning them isn’t an option. Some environmentalists say this problem is being swept under the carpet, what do you think?…

Jan Tessmer: I actually think everything is relative. Of course it is an issue and of course you don’t get anything for free, but you always have to see it in relation, what are the values you get out of the wind turbine and I think yes, some efforts have to be made to efficiently, and also without environmental  damage, get turbines recycled or out of the ground.

There are huge concrete foundations that have to be gotten out but I don’t see there being any principal problem  that could not be overcome. It will probably be a challenge for technology. It will really be an issue over the next years and decades probably to get old turbines off the field, so I expect industry will find technologies to cope with it.

Is the difficulty in disposing of wind turbines hurting wind energy’s reputation as a green power source?

Yes, sure…DW eco@africa - wind turbines in Germany (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Pleul)

Wind turbines pose a big environmental problem when it comes to disposing of them…

Do you think that environmentalists are still mostly pro wind energy or do you think there’s been a pushback regarding the difficulties in disposing of wind turbines?

I think we have more and more problems with the issue of acceptance. I wouldn’t say it’s because of the disposal issue, I think it’s more on issues like noise or the lightning effects during the night, that people feel disturbed. I don’t think people think so much about the disposal issue, although it might be important and I also think that we have to address this issue.