BigWind befriends Amazon to attack Ohioans’ property rights

Ohio wind warrior, Julie Johnson, represents more than just Ohioans who live in Champaign county…safe setbacks protect our citizens, our property rights, our property tax base, and our peace of mind!  Will Amazon build a distribution center in the middle of one of these industrial wind turbine sites? Nope.  Will Amazon actually power one of their sites, entirely, with wind energy? Nope, not from Ohio, because our winds ‘suck’.  Will the Amazon leaders live in the middle of an industrial wind site? Nope. Enough said. Hypocritical?….

The massive online retailer Amazon has weighed in on a proposal aimed at aimed at making it easier to locate and run wind farms in parts of Ohio, saying the state’s current restrictions make it unattractive to build turbines in the state….
But the current, tougher standards are important to protect property owners living near the turbines, testified Julia Johnson of Champaign County. Johnson is a member of Union Neighbors United, a group of residents opposed to the Champaign County wind farm.
“I am here to express the opposition and anger of my community and the hundreds of voters across Northwest Ohio who have worked so hard to protect our property and families with reasonable setbacks from industrial wind turbines,” Johnson testified….
Amazon is working with EDP Renewables to develop a 100 megawatt wind farm in Paulding County under the state’s older, looser rules.

But Ohio’s current restrictions are chilling future investment, said John Stephenson, manager of U.S. public policy for Amazon in testimony on Ohio House Bill 190.

“Unfortunately, Ohio’s wind turbine setback standards enacted a little more than two years ago have significantly diminished the attractiveness to further investments in wind generation in Ohio,” Stephenson said. “In fact, the current setbacks have acted as a moratorium of sorts on new wind development.”
Amazon is bulking up its presence in Ohio, where it has previously announced plans to build two new distribution centers and create as many as 2,000 jobs. The company is also developing data centers in central Ohio.
“Amazon believes the substitute version of HB 190 strikes a balance that would allow wind development in areas of Ohio where it makes the most economic and operational sense and will help bring Ohio more high-tech operations that increasingly depend on renewable energy,” Stephenson testified….

But reducing the distance turbines must be set back from property lines would create safety and noise concerns for residents living in a wind farm’s footprint, Johnson said. She described the proposed bill as a gimmick to repeal the previously established setbacks.
Johnson testified that there are good reasons for the stricter setbacks. She cited nuisances like noise, moving shadows from the turbine blades, and also argued the turbines can affect property values.
“People ask why Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have generated so much support in the campaign for president,” Johnson testified. “It is because people are angry and this bill is the kind of legislation that fuels that anger.”

Source: Wind rules debated, Champaign residents oppose changing standards

Advertisements

Ohio and federal Bigwind lobbyists belong in a circus

The three ring circus may need additional rings as the activity ramps up.  The wind lobby is frantic and stories from across the nation attest to it.   In Ohio, HB 190 to give the County Commissioners power to repeal the current property line setbacks has been referred to the House Public Utilities Committee.   No hearings have been scheduled yet and we will keep you advised of any activity.  Tom Stacy described the legislation as like giving the County Commissioners the power of eminent domain without the obligation to compensate the property owner.  Well said!    

At the federal level, a group of Democrats introduced a new bill to require electric utilities to deliver 30 percent of their supply from renewable sources by 2030. The renewable energy standard (RES) bill introduced yesterday updates a policy proposal that clean energy advocates have pushed for years. It would impose at the federal level the same type of mandate that currently exists in dozens of states.  (And remains frozen in Ohio for now.)   Perhaps the increasing number of states repealing their mandates has caused the wind lobby to move to the federal level to combat the states.

Here in Champaign County, after months of silence, the Editorial Board of the Urbana Daily Citizen wrote an opinion piece.  While not coming out in direct opposition to the EverPower Buckeye Wind project, we discern a bit more hesitancy on their part as they wonder what kind of corporate citizen a new owner would be?  They acknowledge that local officials have concerns about problems that could arise during and after construction.  While it is a mild Editorial, it is at least a recognition that there are two sides to the issue….

The latest buzzword to enter the wind turbine saga is “yieldco,” and this new wrinkle adds a dimension to the potential construction of Buckeye/Champaign wind farms.

Partially because of a more nimble type of investment model called a yieldco that is apparently well-suited to progressive energy development such as wind, EverPower (the parent company of two utility-scale wind farms proposed for Champaign County) may now be worth as much as $1.5 billion…

If EverPower is acquired by investors who are structurally better able to finance the farms, their construction is more viable financially. On the flip side, if it is so easy for the wind farms to change owners, how do their prospective neighbors know for certain the farms will be good citizens once constructed?

We don’t know if the potential sale of EverPower to an owner with more financial prowess will equate to the locally-sited farms being constructed. There are still too many other variables….

If a Republican wins the White House and Republicans maintain their majorities in Congress in 2016, we can’t help but think EverPower faces an uphill battle constructing the proposed wind farms here. In addition, Ohio lawmakers have required more distance between homes and the turbines (also known as setbacks) for future projects…

Complicating the process further, EverPower faces deadlines for starting construction on each project, according to state law. While such deadlines are sometimes flexible based on other factors, EverPower also continues to face persistent legal opposition from Union Neighbors United and a handful of well-heeled residents who live near the proposed projects. In addition, some county agencies and townships have begun to express concerns about problems the farms could cause during and after construction.

One of the biggest hurdles EverPower will face is its application for “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILOT) status from Champaign County Commissioners. This process involves so many monetary variables that the county auditor struggles to pin down the differences in how much local entities would draw in taxes versus the lesser but more predictable payments in lieu of taxes.

When and if EverPower does apply for PILOT, there will be a renewed push from proponents and opponents to win the hearts and minds of county commissioners and the citizens who elect them…

The proposed wind projects began rather stealthily with the company signing up private landowners to leases that will allow the turbines and their system’s infrastructure to be installed. This is not a public utility, but it is under the authority of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and it is heavily reliant on the public sector incentives supplied by our tax money for its birth and survival….

Where are the wind turbines? – Urbana Citizen – urbanacitizen.com.

Ohio legislators, are you listening? Wisconsin declares BigWind a HEALTH HAZARD!

Is Ohio’s 1300 ft setback enough? On Monday night, the Brown County Board of Health in Wisconsin voted to declare the Shirley Wind Project to be a human health hazard.  The approved motion states:

“To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI. A Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.”

This is an important step forward in the debate about industrial wind setbacks and the effects of low frequency noise.   The study of LFN by four acousticians was underway at Shirley when Union Neighbors United intervened in Everpower’s Buckeye Wind II before the Ohio Power Siting Board.  One of the researchers working on the Shirley Wind study was Everpower’s noise expert, David Hessler.   On the witness stand at OPSB in November, 2012, Hessler responded to a question from UNU’s attorney about LFN as follows:

Q: Low-frequency noise cannot be ruled out as a potential problem at wind farms, can it?

 

A: Yeah, up until recently my belief was that it could essentially be ruled out, but I’m changing my mind on that a little bit.

 

Hessler was changing his mind because of what he was learning at the Shirley Wind project. 

The OPSB hearings closed on December 6, 2012.  On December 12th , the Shirley Wind study was concluded and on December 24th the report was issued.  That report concluded two important points.  

Ø  “An important finding on this survey was that the cooperation of the wind farm operator is absolutely essential. Wind turbines must be measured both ON and OFF on request to obtain data under nearly identical wind and power conditions to quantify the wind turbine impact which could not be done due to Duke Energy’s lack of cooperation.”

 Ø  “A most interesting study in 1986 by the Navy reveals that physical vibration of pilots in flight simulators induced motion sickness when the vibration frequency was in the range of 0.05 to 0.9 Hz with the maximum (worst) effect being at about 0.2 Hz, not too far from the blade passing frequency of future large wind turbines. If one makes the leap from physical vibration of the body to physical vibration of the media the body is in, it suggests adverse response to wind turbines is an acceleration or vibration problem in the very low frequency region. The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. It should be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.”

On January 17, 2013, UNU requested that the record in Buckeye Wind II be reopened to allow inclusion of the Shirley Wind Report. (See attached Motion)  Everpower objected and the OPSB denied the request.   Now the Health Department in Brown County, Wisconsin has determined the Shirley Wind project is a health hazard to “residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby.”     The Health Department’s decision was made public on a local radio talk program.   We have provided the link to the radio program.  

 The radio program makes several important points.  First, the State of Wisconsin controls the siting of industrial wind turbines and local governments are unable to put restrictions on them unless they are deemed a health hazard.   The mere designation of health hazard will not shut down the turbines. However, it will force the debate and the wind industry will have to present evidence that LFN does not cause adverse health impacts.  It is believed they will not be able to refuse to cooperate as Duke Energy did previously.  That will be a tall order.  The radio program host asserts that the wind industry  “can no longer put smarmy editorials in newspapers around the state that obfuscate the real issue which is what the wind lobby has done again and again and again.”  “They are not going to be able to do that this time.”  … 

Brown County Board of Health votes Shirley Wind farm a health risk….audio at site: via Brown County Board of Health votes Shirley Wind farm a health risk. – Podcasts – WTAQ News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM.

BigWind creates ‘Chaos’ at the Ohio Power Siting Board

This week several filings have been made with the Ohio Power Siting Board.  Union Neighbors United has requested a rehearing on the OPSB’s approval of Everpower’s motion to extend the certificate expiration date in Phase I of Buckeye Wind.  Ohio law requires that extensions be granted only after applications to amend a certificate are investigated, subjected to hearing and appeal and some due process accorded to the public.  UNU asserts Everpower is seeking to avoid due process because any delay in obtaining the extension would subject them to the new setback rules which require measurement from property lines.  The UNU application for rehearing makes the case that Everpower is simply attempting to avoid these new requirements. Moreover, UNU points to the Blackfork Wind and the Paulding County Timber Road III projects (also represented by the Vorys law firm) that filed similar extension requests in order to get around the new law that seeks to protect the property rights of landowners in and around the footprint of a wind project.

 It is important to note, again, that the OPSB has failed to properly adopt its revised rules because they were not submitted to the Ohio General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. This means that the whole issue of what rules even apply to any wind development are up in the air. The ones who lose in the chaos are citizens who are trying to protect themselves and their communities. The OPSB has heaped insult on top of injury by not only leaving in question what the rules are, but also unlawfully suspending the rules for project extensions in order to accommodate the wind developers who are trying to duck the laws.  What a mess.

The Greenwich Wind project in Huron County is yet another example of the regulatory chaos.   The Omega Corporation, one of the entities impacted by the Greenwich Wind project, filed to extend the time period for the community to intervene in this project. They were denied.  We have also attached their application for a rehearing of the Board’s denial.  This is another indictment the OPSB and its failure to faithfully and fairly implement the laws regarding wind development.   Further information on this and all other wind cases pending before the OPSB can be found on the OPSB website at http://www.opsb.ohio.gov/opsb/index.cfm/Cases/ .  If you think you live in a ‘SAFE’ place away from BigWind, you will rethink your theory….

We will keep you abreast of what happens next in this drama.  It is complicated but very much worth taking the time to understand because the future of a number of Ohio wind developments hangs in the balance….

It may not be too late to stop development of the Greenwich Windpark, attorney Sam Randazzo told about 75 township residents and visitors at a Greenwich Neighbors United informational meeting Tuesday…

via Greenwich residents request wind farm rehearing – Times-Gazette | Ashland & Ashland County, Ohio.