BigWind ‘spins’ the TRUTH at Ohio House

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Last week the Ohio House Energy Generation Subcommittee heard a presentation from Dayna Baird Payne on behalf of AWEA and Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of several wind developers and the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition (MAREC).  They asserted that there was an effective moratorium on new wind development in Ohio due to what they believe are restrictive setbacks measured from property lines.  As a result, they complained that this situation could force Ohio to become a net importer of renewable energy.   Given that Ohio prides itself on being a “choice” state where energy users can choose any kind of power they prefer from throughout the PJM system, being a “net importer” of renewable energy is only an issue to developers who want to force projects in Ohio’s rural communities. If their assertions are true, then why are there so many BigWind projects in planning stages???

When asked by Committee Co-Chairman Michael O’Brien how Ohio’s setbacks compare with other states, Payne acknowledged that some states do regulate at the county level but the “industry norm” is 1.1 times the turbine height from the property line – which was the law prior to 2014.   It strains credulity to think that standards adopted a decade ago when turbines were half the size they are today would still be considered the “industry norm.”  And while the wind industry may hold that 1.1x turbine height is their standard, no community would adopt it as their standard. 

 

It was reported that Co-Chair Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) challenged Payne’s claim that the wind industry generated 96,000 megawatts (MW) last year.  She then had to admit her figure did not reflect actual output, and that wind farms generally operate at a third of their “nameplate” capacity. O’Donnell went even further saying it might be as high as 40%.   Payne added that she did not know whether wind generation contributes to the capacity market operated by PJM.  Yeah, sure.  Generally we understand that PJM assigns a value of 13% to wind.  PJM will be the next Committee presenter and that question will be cleared up.

 

O’Brien asked about the offshore Windbreaker facility underway in Lake Erie, and O’Donnell said competition is “fierce” for offshore wind developments, especially on the eastern seaboard.  To compare, or better, to “confuse” enthusiasm for offshore wind in the ocean with the Windbreaker project in Lake Erie is misleading.

 

While wind was making its case to the legislature, the Ohio Democratic Party was unveiling their “Ohio Promise” agenda designed to address numerous education, human services, environmental and social justice concerns.  A list of priorities is reported below and, of course, along with gender equity, increased minimum wages and mandatory overtime pay is “ loosen wind farm restrictions.”

 

Distributed to all members of the House and Senate Energy Committees was the Michael Shellenberger article on the destruction of the landscape by wind and solar as well as an article from the National Review.  Rep. Seitz points out to his colleagues that while much of the NR article “is a well-deserved deconstruction of the “Green New Deal”, the portions that I have circled also indicate that renewables are not the answer. As that article notes, only 13 states allow all customers a choice of electricity supplier– and we are one of them. The author makes the point that in customer choice states, customers have an option to select clean energy and that is why I have long maintained that renewable portfolio mandates are unnecessary as those who wish to make these choices are perfectly free to do so now, absent the heavy hand of government. “

 

Counties considering granting PILOT should give serious consideration to the experience of Oklahoma communities where a five year tax abatement program for industrial wind has wreaked havoc.  An important report included below recounts that lobbyists for the wind industry have been handing out brochures touting the millions of dollars in property tax revenues that Oklahoma schools and counties have received as a result of wind farms being built in their jurisdictions.  “But there’s something those brochures don’t say: Most of those property tax payments to date have not been paid by wind company owners. Instead, they’ve been paid by Oklahomans whose income tax and other tax payments have been used to reimburse school districts and counties for revenue lost due to a five-year property tax exemption granted to wind farm owners by the Oklahoma Legislature. New wind farms no longer qualify for that exemption, which is being phased out. There’s something else those brochures don’t say: Once the five years of exemptions are over, wind companies have been sending lawyers to county courthouses to file tax protests and lawsuits contending the value of their equipment is worth hundreds of millions of dollars less than the values assigned to them by county assessors.” 

 

Some of those lawsuits have dragged on for years, leaving millions of dollars in disputed tax payments sitting in escrow while some school districts have struggled to make bond payments and pay operating expenses.

A good example is Comanche County, where the owners of Blue Canyon Wind Farms have tax protests pending covering five consecutive years.  EDP is the developer of Blue Canyon Wind as well as the Timber Road projects in Paulding County. The Paulding County Commissioners designated the county as an AEZ eligible for PILOT.  It will be interesting to see what EDP does when the Timber Road PILOT expires.    

 

Elsewhere:

 

OPSB reschedules the adjudicatory hearing for Republic Wind Farm for June 3rd.  A local hearing to receive comments is scheduled for May 14, 2019, from 5:00 to 9:30 p.m. at Bellevue High School, 200 Oakland Avenue in Bellevue, Ohio. Republic Wind is an Apexproject.

 

In the Seneca Wind project, a judge denied sPower’s request for a temporary injunction that would have allowed it to have access to properties where owners believe the leases have expired.  “In his eight-page ruling, the judge said the Ohio Constitution “places great importance on the rights of property owners” and had little sympathy for sPower’s argument that it was running out of time to keep the project on schedule because of annual restrictions on clear-cutting that take effect March 31 to protect endangered bats. Although sPower only came into possession of signed leases a few years ago, the judge noted that it and its predecessor had more than a decade in most cases. The company asserts there was a clause that automatically renewed the leases after the initial 10-year contracts had expired.”  The issue concerning the validity of the leases will be heard in court at a later date.

 

MaterResource featured an article on a letter that audiologist Dr. Jerry Punch sent to the OPSB in January concerning the potential impact of Seneca Wind on a client with severe vertigo.  Punch’s assessment of the situation for  his client is grim.   Punch points out that “In the 2009 guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO)  recommended that average, A-weighted noise levels outside a residence, designated as LAeq, outside, not exceed 40 dB to avoid substantial annoyance, sleep disturbance, and other adverse health effects. It established limits specifically for wind turbine noise for the first time in its most recent guidelines, [3] recommending that noise emissions from turbines not exceed 45 dB Lden.  The Lden metric penalizes evening and nighttime noise levels by 5 and 10 dB, respectively, relative to daytime levels, and a level of 45 dB Lden is equivalent to an Leq of 38.3 dB. Levels between 38-40 dB Leq are in agreement with those recommended by Dr. Paul Schomer, a prominent acoustician who is the former Director of the Standards Division of the Acoustical Society of America.”

 

In Findlay, Ohio (home of former Senator Cliff Hite) plans to build one or two 400-foot wind turbines southeast of the intersection of Crystal and Bigelow avenues were rejected by the Findlay City Planning Commission.

“The action was a foregone conclusion after the city zoning appeals board last month denied One Energy’s request for a variance from city laws setting a 40- to 100-foot limit on wind turbines. Crystal Avenue residents have denounced the proposed wind turbines as an eyesore which would sink their property values and flicker shadows into their homes. They also have expressed concerns that the wind turbines would harm their health. One Energy may next challenge the city in Hancock County Common Pleas Court.”

 

An April 3rd date has been sent for the new public information meeting on the Apex  Emerson Creek Wind Project.  The meeting will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Bellevue VFW, 6104 U.S. 20.  This meeting was ordered after the first meeting was held in a private venue and a wind opponent was forced by the Sheriff to leave at Apex’s request.   Following lawmaker complaints, the OPSB ordered a second public meeting.  Apex continues to assert it followed all regulations governing a “public” meeting.

 

Kaleab Mammo-Jegol, the state director of the US Youth Climate Strike, is working to make Ohio commit to 100% renewables as part of a social justice platform.  Conveniently, this radical group is supported by the fake Conservative Energy Forum whose director, Tyler Duvelius remarked,  “The Constitution guarantees property rights” for people to use and lease their property as they see fit, Duvelius said. “The Constitution does not guarantee a right to a view,” he added when asked about opponents’ nuisance claims.”  Kaleab Mammo-Jegol and Tyler Duvelius have now found common cause.

 

While the Youth Climate circus was playing out in Ohio, the county presidents of the Ohio Farm Bureau were in Washington visiting US Senator Portman who explained that the Green New Deal would be disastrous to farmers : “We can do better in terms of energy efficiency and that is a great way to reduce emissions but also to add more jobs. We should be able to use technology and innovation better and we are starting to do that. I support legislation to give our power companies incentives to be able to capture carbon and sequester it and start a carbon market. Finally I will say that people who are really serious about climate change ought to look at nuclear power. There are advanced nuclear power technologies out there. It is emissions free,” Portman said. “There are ways we can make sure we have the base power we need. We have solar and wind. We have it in Ohio and we like it, but sometimes the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. You need to have that base power also. We have two nuclear plants in Ohio and they are both aging. We need newer, safer, more innovative plants that are much more efficient. There are lots of things that can and should be done and we are doing some of them, but to take up the Green New Deal and put that on the American people and the American farmer would be disastrous. It would increase everyone’s costs of electricity dramatically.”

 

In Ireland, Seven Cork families could be on course to receive damages after a wind farm operator admitted liability in a High Court action over noise pollution.  The case is next listed for hearing on April 25, and will be closely observed by many of the families living in close proximity to wind farms and who claim that there should be a greater distance between homes and turbines.  “Planning regulation around wind turbines remain governed by 2006 guidelines which allow companies to build turbines within 500m of private dwellings. Updated guidelines stipulating how far wind turbines should be set back from residential homes are three years overdue. These guidelines will also deal with noise and ‘shadow flicker’ from the turning blades. Up to 7,000 submissions were made in the public consultation process that followed the issuing of draft guidelines by the then minister for housing Jan O’Sullivan, which set down a mandatory minimum setback of 500m “for amenity considerations”.  [1,640’] The draft guidelines also set a maximum day and night noise limit of 40 decibels for future wind energy development, measured outdoors at the home nearest to the wind turbine. The guidelines also stipulated that there should be no shadow flicker at home within 10 ‘rotor diameters’ of a turbine.”

 

The left-wing NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) has proposed a grand bargain for saving Ohio’s nuclear plants.  The want to trade short term support for a long term commitment to transition Ohio to 100% renewables.  They claim “Ohio will be left behind our neighboring states throughout the Midwest if we do not have strong policies for a transition to the clean energy economy. We should be leading, not swimming against the economic wave that is lifting up other states; and not protecting Wall Street speculators but investing in local renewable energy generation and all the benefits for Ohio that would come with it.”  Many people consider the NRDC and Sierra to be domestic terror organizations.  Why on earth would policy-makers let them determine Ohio’s energy policy?

 

Some Ohio renewable energy advocates and lawmakers who are being asked to support saving the nuclear plants have some significant items on their wish list for any compromise agreement.  “At the top is a repeal of 2014 restrictions on wind farms. The law has the effect of limiting how many turbines can be placed in a project area, which has slowed development. “We don’t like bailing out nuclear plants, but we don’t rule out supporting a package if the package on balance is a good one for consumers and the environment,” said Rob Kelter, a senior attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center.”

 

Developer EDP surfaces again in Illinois where they are suing a township that adopted strict siting provisions.  In addition, they are promoting legislation to restrict wind farm regulations outside of a municipality to the county alone, excluding townships.   Ohioans should be on guard for any pre-emptive moves advanced by the wind industry in the context of a setback compromise.  We know where EDP stands.

 

Minnesota farmers are fighting against industrial wind and express remorse for prior support.  “Given the choice, no sentient being would ever tolerate an industrial wind turbine anywhere near their home or property. Merrily wrecking rural communities wherever it goes, the wind industry is facing real, red-blooded American resistance across the Midwest. In this piece from Minnesota’s The Globe, locals lament the day the wind industry rolled into town.”

 

The last article addresses the ever growing community of opponents to renewable projects.  The author feels opponents should be recognized and basically run over.   This is an inside the beltway perspective that is unable to appreciate why anyone would turn down the money to host wind or solar.  They really do not get it.  sPower commissioned a poll to measure support for a solar project in Virginia. They got the results they wanted but the reality was quite different and locals sought to block the project.  The article tries to understand if climate denial is the reason for opposition – they might as well blame the Easter bunny.  This is proof of a profound inability of urban elites to appreciate the value of rural living.  It is an article worth reading if for nothing more than the enjoyment of learning that when the San Bernardino chapter of the Sierra Club decided to support a ban on all renewables, the nationals ordered them to stand down.  Instead, they changed their name and kept on fighting.

House Democrats roll out new ‘Ohio promise’ agendaBy Jim Siegel
The Columbus Dispatch Posted Mar 14, 2019

OPSB reschedules adjudicatory hearing for Republic Wind FarmCOLUMBUS, OHIO (March 14, 2019)

Judge: Landowners don’t have to let Seneca wind farm company on propertyTom HenryBlade Staff Writer MAR 13, 2019

Judge denies wind farm company injunction in Seneca County By Jonathan Monk | March 12, 2019 at 5:29 PM EST – Updated March 12 at 9:34 PM

Wind Turbine Syndrome

Findlay

Bellevue, Ohio

Wacky Ohio youth

Ohio senators and climate change

school finance problems

Wind farm admits liability

Ohio’s grand bargain

nuclear bailout?

Illinois legislation

Minnesota meltdownRural landowners air opposition to industrial wind farms
The Globe
Julie Buntjer
27 February 2019

nontraditional alliances

 

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Ohio BigWind is on a leash-for now

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Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met but announced there would be no vote taken on H.B. 114 to reduce wind turbine setbacks.   Wind power to the people!   Chairman Balderson announced in the Committee that they had received new information and language which they needed to seriously consider.  They will take the next several weeks to study the issues raised and it is likely they will come back in July to see if the bill can be voted out of Committee and go to the floor of the Senate.

Rep. Reineke also responded to the good work of his Seneca County constituents and issued a statement in support of keeping the law as it is, unchanged at 1,125’ from the property line.  Rep. Reineke’s statement is copied below.  You will note that he does not support putting the property rights of citizens up to a vote…please THANK HIM!

Sen. Dolan and wind lobbyist Terrence O’Donnell were huddling after the hearing, planning their next steps.  Know that a new wave will be coming our way!!

 

 

A statement from Rep. Reineke from Seneca County.

Bill Reineke — Ohio State Representative for District 88 — at Ohio Statehouse.

Over the past several months, I have taken time to conduct due diligence in understanding both sides of the wind setback debate and specifically how the 88th House District feels on the topic. From the beginning, it has been my sincere hope that a fair compromise could be reached between those in support of wind energy development and those with concerns. I have taken the time to listen, engage, and evaluate how my constituents view reducing the wind turbine setback requirements.

Based on my continued engagement with the constituents I was elected to represent, I have come to the conclusion that no changes should be made to Ohio’s current wind turbine setbacks. Under current law, the setbacks can be reduced if “good neighbor” waivers are reached with affected landowners in the project footprint. Property rights are key and landowners on both sides of this issue have valid arguments. In pursuit of a compromise, it is unfair for one set of landowners to completely win this debate, and property rights should never be subject to a vote.

Current law provides sufficient protection for the health, safety, and welfare of the district but also allows for the free market to work. If a wind developer and an affected neighboring landowner can come to an agreement, which results in a waiver being signed, then that is all that should be required.

I have appreciated the immense outreach and engagement from all of my constituents, both those who are for and those against reductions in the wind turbine setback requirements. This has been a contentious issue that I have personally wrestled with during these past several months, as valid arguments have been presented by both sides.

It is my sincere hope that our community can maintain a sense of civility in our discourse with each other. This issue has been divisive and pitted neighbors against each other. While it is alright to disagree, we must remember to be respectful of others’ opinions when engaging in public discourse.

As your State Representative, I will continue to monitor and advocate for the district on this important issue. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at 614-466-1374 or email me at Rep88@ohiohouse.gov.

 

Ohio BigWind News and cries to allow them closer to our homes

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Oh my, where to start? Comments on the Ohio Power Siting Board’s proposed rules have been submitted and are posted on the OPSB website at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109.

Terrence O’Donnell, son of Ohio Supreme Court Justice Terrence O’Donnell, filed two comment letters. One is filed as counsel for the LeedCo Icebreaker project in Lake Erie and the other is on behalf of MAREC (Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition). Not surprisingly the comments are full of threats that the proposed rules are so restrictive as to prohibit the development of wind in Ohio. Repeatedly, this cry rises no matter whether the topic is ice throw, shadow flicker, noise, decommissioning, whatever. At one low point, MAREC insists that the word “noise” be eliminated due to its negative connotations and replaced by a more neutral term like…”sound”. Gee, we wonder what the folks at INCE (Institute for NOISE Control Engineering) , the professional association for “noise” would think of that? Sort of like calling 600’ foot tall wind power plant arrays “farms”.

Consider: MAREC requests that throughout the rules the term “noise” be eliminated and replaced with the term “sound.” “Noise” has a negative connotation that indicates loud, harsh, or disturbing sound. It would be more appropriate to use a descriptive term that is not pejorative. The term “sound” more correctly denotes what is being measured in accordance with the wind farm requirements in new Rule 09. As explained in greater detail below, it is crucial for the wind industry in Ohio that the sound level be measured at an appropriate and reasonable location. MAREC’s concern is that, if the sound level is measured at the property lines (as proposed throughout the rules) wind project development in Ohio will be devastated. Therefore, sound measurements should focus on the applicable residences that could potentially be affected by the sound level, i.e., structures that are inhabited.

It may interest readers to know that noise regulation was originally the province of the US EPA which carried out investigations and studies on noise and its effect on the public health and welfare through the

Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC). In 1981 the federal government decided that noise issues were best handled at the State and local level. As a result, ONAC was closed and primary responsibility of addressing noise issues was transferred to State and local governments. However, EPA retains authority to investigate and study noise and its effect, disseminate information to the public regarding noise pollution and its adverse health effects, respond to inquiries on matters related to noise, and evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulations for protecting the public health and welfare, pursuant to the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978. (Source US EPA). Given that the EPA turned over noise regulation but local zoning authority for industrial wind was pre-empted by the State of Ohio, it is especially important that the OPSB adopt rules protective of the health and welfare of the community. And calling it noise is an accurate, descriptive term.

THE WORST comment is the letter from the Ohio Environmental Council. Consider: When the statute was passed, there was no public discussion and no analysis on whether or not the increased setback distance was necessary, as it was enacted hastily in Ohio House Bill 483 (Amstutz – 130th GA). As a result, the revised setback has effectively zoned new wind projects out of the state, decimating the prospect of new wind projects, and injuring clean energy progress. Until 2014, Ohio was attracting millions of dollars in investment in new wind energy projects. As a result, Ohio’s air quality improved, new jobs were created, and local governments began seeing new revenue coming in to support their operations. Sadly, this progress was all but halted by the abrupt enactment of these overly burdensome wind turbine regulations that created unnecessary red tape for investors and project developers, specifically the implementation of the unnecessary and overly burdensome setback requirements promulgated by this proposed rule. It has effectively placed a moratorium on new wind development, and there has been no new wind applications approved since the new setback requirements were enacted.

We don’t believe the OEC claims that industrial wind has already “improved Ohio’s air quality”. A recent study by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity estimates the federal Clean Power Plan will have a small effect on temperature and is the equivalent of reducing rising sea levels by “the thickness of one to two human hairs.” If that is the assessment for the entire impact of the CPP, a couple of wind factories in Ohio could not possibly have had a detectable impact on air quality.

The industry comments on the OPSB rules are an all-out assault on property rights of rural landowners. In the face of all of this, we were very happy to read Senate President Keith Faber’s sentiments in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Faber expressed no sympathy for wind developers who claim legislation he supported has made it impossible to develop future wind-farm sites. He said his concern is for the property rights of neighboring landowners who are not being compensated for the impact of the turbines on their land. He said he has had discussions on the issue in his office and in the Indian Lake area of Ohio. Indian Lake is in Logan County, northwest of Columbus. “

While the rule-making process is underway, the Icebreaker project proposed for Lake Erie is in the pre-application stage at the OPSB. Reports are coming in of criticism from organizations representing the Great Lakes in the US and Canada. Our friends at NAPAW have renamed it “Wing Breaker”! The wildlife compliance comments from the wind industry indicate that bird and bat issues may be more of a problem for them than we knew. They appear to want to water them down and remove references to federal programs designed to protect avian species. This comes at a time when researchers are documenting that “there is evidence that wind facilities may be having continental-scale impacts on some bird populations.”

While they did not choose to file comments on the OPSB Rules, The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund released a study this week intended to provide the Governor with justification for reinstating the renewable mandates. And for good measure, they threw in a plea for rollback of property line setbacks. Elsewhere, a study from the Independent Institute was interesting in that they assert the exaggerated claims of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan as an “historic and important step” that “takes real action on climate change” and is “fair” and “flexible” is an attempt to distract people from asking questions like, “Who will pay for this?” and “By how much will the CPP reduce climate change?” Maybe the screams and yells about property-line versus residence setbacks is an attempt to distract people from those same substantive questions.