The ‘Spin Doctors’ of BigWind are in Ohio….

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-9-54-36-am

The Doctor is “In” – that is, the Spin Doctors of industrial wind. This past week the Spin Doctors were busy in their emergency rooms using the tools of their profession: truthiness (half truths) , proofiness, cherry-picking, fear mongering, false choices, weasel words and euphemism to save their hides.

“Spin (which is actually propaganda from a military perspective) is making us blind to what is happening. Being blind, we let our governments and big corporations get away with doing things that are unjust and to the detriment of the economy of the ordinary people and detrimental to democracy. Spin has been and continues to be used to pull the wool over the eyes of the general public.” http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/05/spotting-spin-some-tricks-of-trade.html

Reply comments on wind siting rules were submitted to the Ohio Power Siting Board on November 8th. The Mid-American Renewable Energy Coalition and the Ohio Environmental Council took shots at GNU and UNU and vice versa. We were dumbfounded by the spinning served up by the windies and enviros. Dizzy! Take some Dramamine and visit the link, below, to read all of the reply comments. We will share some spin highlights….

Ø Cherry-Picking & Truthiness: “MAREC believes the Board should apply wind energy standards that are consistent with neighboring United States jurisdictions, rather than adopting rules from foreign nations whose rural landscapes and population densities are vastly different than in those areas where wind farms are proposed in Ohio. A cursory review of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan wind energy ordinances establishes that Ohio’s guidelines are already more restrictive than counties where wind farms both have and have not been built.”

MAREC lists four “cherry-picked” Indiana setback examples and suggests Ohio should emulate them. Yet, a more comprehensive list of 12 other Indiana counties reflects that 5 ban industrial wind facilities outright and five establish setbacks from property lines. The Indiana property line setbacks range from 1,300’ to 3,960’ (¾ mile). The two counties that measure from the residence have setbacks of 2640’ and 1,500’ from a non-participant residence. Our Indiana list also shows MAREC’s information about Tipton County is factually incorrect. Tipton revised their setbacks in July to 2640’ from residence, 1500’ from the property line within the Prairie Breeze development area and 1460’ from property line in the rest of the county.

If MAREC wants OPSB to apply wind energy standards “consistent with neighboring United States jurisdictions,” they would have to agree to enabling Ohio counties to ban industrial wind facilities outright as five Indiana Counties have done; establish setbacks from property lines as five counties have done; or lengthen setbacks from the residence as two have done. We recommend that readers use the MAREC chart and the Indiana list which reveals the dishonesty of MAREC when visiting with your local elected officials both at the state and county levels.

Ø Proofiness: Outight lying with numbers to mislead; quoting statistics out of context so that they mislead; distorting statistics; or using incorrect logic in order to mislead the audience.

“ It is MAREC’s view that the Board should acknowledge the original setback regulations “worked” considering there are nearly zero sound or shadow flicker complaints against the two existing wind farms in Ohio with over 5 years in operation. The Board should not adopt sound and shadow flicker impact setbacks from property lines.” (MAREC reply Page 3) In this instance, MAREC is deceptive because the wind leases and “good neighbor agreements” contain gag clauses that forbid landowners from complaining. This was recently reconfirmed in Hardin County when an EverPower representative peddling a good neighbor agreement advised that they would be free to complain but only to EverPower. Wind developers contractually suppress complaints and then defend their practices based on the assertion that there are “no complaints.” SPIN!

Similarly, MAREC asserts at page 15 of their reply that “Trade secrets: UNU argues an applicant should be required to submit to staff any post-certificate evaluation of shadow flicker impacts, including all supporting documentation; however, this information should not be protected by trade secret. MAREC disagrees – trade secret information should be protected in accordance with the statute.” Whether it is bird kills or shadow flicker intrusion, the wind industry works to manipulate or hide information that may be damaging to them and then relies on “proofiness” to spin their argument.

More general “proofiness” was revealed this week in the industry publication, Wind Watch, when the statistics used to assert public support for wind were exposed as misleading. “Seventy-seven percent of Trump supporters want more wind farms, but 69% want more coal mines, 66% want more offshore drilling, 58% want more fracking, and 55% want more nuclear. Trump supporters want wind farms, but that is only because they want more electricity whatever source it comes from. Whether it is ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ doesn’t seem to matter. The research also does not specify how much new wind capacity they would want, so they may only want a tiny amount.”

Ø Euphemisms –“ When part of a spin performance, euphemisms are usually used with other spin methods. With spin, euphemisms tend to be used when the intent is to manage the impressions of the audience so that they will not react to bad news in a way the spinner does not want.” http://www.truthliesdeceptioncoverups.info/2013/05/spotting-spin-some-tricks-of-trade.html

UNU’s Reply at page 14 states “Initially, MAREC objects to the Board’s use of the term “noise” and asks the Board to use only the term “sound,” contending that “noise” has “a negative connotation that indicates loud, harsh, or disturbing sound.” But make no mistake about it, the sounds imposed on the public by wind turbines are loud, harsh, and disturbing. The semantic niceties offered by the wind industry cannot disguise that fact. Acoustic engineers define “noise” as “unwanted sound.” Since no one desires the sounds from a wind turbine, not even the turbine’s host landowner, “noise” is the most appropriate term for turbine emissions in this rule.

We direct the reader’s attention to the timely article from Columbus Business First reporting that Ohio State University has been engaged in a research project called “Sounds of New York.” In this instance, the sound is not just “noise” but “noise pollution”. Whether one is in a quiet rural area or in a bustling urban environment, there is a point at which the increase in “sound” is unwanted and harmful. Important to note, also, is that human complaint data is considered to be important in understanding and responding to the problem. OSU acknowledges complaint data can “provide reliable information to support decision making”. But OOPS! Here we go back to “Proofiness”! In New York, complaint information is essential to addressing a problem while the wind industry hides complaint information and dares the public to disprove their “proof” that there are no complaints about noise or shadow flicker.

We could go on and on. Our message to all is EYES WIDE OPEN. Understand the tricks of spin and help your community to SEE how wind propaganda is being deployed to BLIND them to the truth….

In the Matter of the Ohio Power Siting Board’s Review of Rule 4906-4-08 of the Ohio Administrative Code.

Status: OPEN-OPEN
Industry Code: GE-GAS & ELECTRIC
Purpose Code: BRO-Rule promulgation
Date Opened: 5/18/2016

View All
1 – 15 of 30 documents 1 / 2 First Previous Next Last
Date Filed Summary Pages
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. 14
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition. 34
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation electronically filed by Amy M Milam on behalf of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation 7
11/08/2016 Reply Comments electronically filed by Mr. Christopher A. Walker on behalf of Union Neighbors United and Johnson, Julia F. Ms. and McConnell, Robert Mr. and McConnell, Diane Mrs. 44
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of the Ohio Environmental Council on Review of Rule 4906-04-08 and Proposed OAC 4906-4-09, Case No. 16-1109-GE-BRO electronically filed by Ms. Miranda R. Leppla on behalf of Ohio Environmental Council. 10
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC electronically filed by Teresa Orahood on behalf of Sally W. Bloomfield. 33
11/08/2016 Reply Comments of Greenwich Neighbors United electronically filed by Mr. Samuel C. Randazzo on behalf of Greenwich Neighbors United. 17
11/07/2016 Reply Comment electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Ms. Katie Elsasser. 4
11/07/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Mr. Gary Biglin. 2
11/04/2016 Reply to Initial Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of State Sen. Bill Seitz. 3
11/01/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of State Sen. Bill Seitz 33
10/28/2016 Comments electronically filed by Mr. Matt Butler on behalf of Ohio State Historic Preservation Office, Ohio History Connection (SHPO) 3
10/24/2016 Initial Comments electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition. 30
10/24/2016 Comments filed on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. electronically filed by Terrence O’Donnell on behalf of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. 8
10/24/2016 Comments of 6011 Greenwich Windpark, LLC electronically filed by Teresa Orahood on behalf of Sally W. Bloomfield. 9…..

http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109

Big Bad Wolf (BigWind) is trying to blow up Ohio’s economy!

 

“Little pig, little Pig, let me come in.”

“No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

In this case, the Big bad wolf of industrial wind is determined to blow Ohio’s economy to pieces with the help of the Kasich Administration. But we “little people,” like the little pig, are building strong arguments to protect our homes and families. 

The pressure is building on the legislature concerning the mandates. We urge you to read the article below that indicate a showdown is coming. Governor Kasich appears more determined than ever to veto any continuance of the mandates or any effort to eliminate them. What would that mean? Ohio currently gets 2% of its electricity from renewables. If the freeze is lifted, Ohio utilities would have to secure 3.5% by the end of 2017 or face fines. This is coming in the face of considerable publicity from Ontario, Canada as to how renewables have increased rates and wrecked their manufacturing economy. Similar stories are reported from Wisconsin.

AEP wrote a notable column in the press about their preference for the PUCO to have – no pun intended – all the power to do whatever they want so that Ohio will have a predictable regulatory environment. They seem to reject the notion that Ohio is a part of a regional power system. Julie Sloat, president and COO of AEP Ohio is quoted as saying “Instead, Ohio needs to take control of its future by ensuring that the state has a diverse mix of power generation resources that protect Ohio jobs and the tax base. Ohio’s energy future needs to provide a more stable and predictable environment for business development and enable more investment in power plants – including wind and solar – within Ohio’s borders, while still allowing for customer choice.” Forget it. AEP’s position appears to be one which invites the people of NW Ohio to be trampled and its migratory flyways transformed into a new kind of ‘highway to heaven’ for birds.

The Ohio Power Siting Board’s comments period on proposed rules for siting industrial turbines closes on Monday, October 24th. The OPSB’s website notes: “In May 2016, the OPSB initiated a new rulemaking docket in case number 16-1109-GE-BRO for the purpose of issuing for formal comment proposed revisions to Ohio Administrative Code 4906-4-08. In an entry dated, September 22, 2016, the OPSB issued proposed rules in amended Ohio Administrative Code 4906-4-08 and newly proposed 4906-4-09. The OPSB requests that interested persons submit comments on the proposed rules by October 24, 2016, and reply comments by November 8, 2016. At the conclusion of the comment-and-reply comment period, the OPSB will issue final rules to be reviewed by the legislature before taking effect. Specific information on the proposed rules can be accessed at http://www.opsb.ohio.gov/opsb/index.cfm/Rules/.

One excerpt from the proposed rules speaks to setbacks as follows:

(2) For wind farms only, the applicant shall provide a map(s) of at least 1:24,000 scale showing the proposed facility, habitable residences, and parcel boundaries of all parcels within a half-mile of the project area. Indicate on the map, for each parcel, whether the parcel is being leased by the applicant for the proposed facility, as of no more than thirty days prior to the submission of the application. Include on the map the setbacks for wind turbine structures in relation to property lines, habitable residential structures, electric transmission lines, gas pipelines, and state and federal highways, consistent with no less than the following minimum requirements:

(a) The distance from a wind turbine base to the property line of the wind farm property shall be at least one and one-tenth times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its tower’s base (excluding the subsurface foundation) to the tip of a blade at its highest point.

(b) The wind turbine shall be at least one thousand, one hundred, twenty-five feet in horizontal distance from the tip of the turbine’s nearest blade at ninety degrees to the property line of the nearest adjacent property at the time of the certification application.

(c) The distance from a wind turbine base to any electric transmission line, gas pipeline, hazardous liquid pipeline, or state or federal highway shall be at least one and one-tenth times the total height of the turbine structure as measured from its tower’s base (excluding the subsurface foundation) to the tip of a blade at its highest point.

(d) Minimum setbacks from property lines and residences may be waived in the event that all owners of property adjacent to the turbine agree to such waiver.

We understand that the proposed rules also require that setback waivers be in writing, and the developer must notify the property owner of the setback requirements and why the property is subject to the minimum setback requirements. The waiver must apply to subsequent owners or tenants of the property, and must be recorded in the County Recorder’s office.

With respect to noise, the proposed rules adopt the +5 dbA over background standard but do not use the recommended L90 measurement which is the accepted form. It is also silent on low frequency noise. Noted acoustical expert, Rick James along with audiologist Jerry Punch have recently released a peer reviewed paper Wind Turbine Noise and Health: A Four-Decade History of Evidence that Wind Turbines Pose Risks. Both James and Punch have testified as expert witness on behalf of UNU in the Buckeye Wind project being developed by EverPower. Rick has asked that we share the link to the paper with you. We encourage everyone to read this paper that specifically rebuts 12 false claims by the wind industry regarding impacts to health. The authors recommend that distances separating turbines and residences generally should be in the area of 1.25 miles. They also caution that setbacks for physical safety do not protect against adverse health effects. This makes the standard for acceptable sound levels critically important because they can provide support to the property line setbacks currently required in the rules. James and Punch favor a standard ranging from 30-40 dBA, which is consistent with the recommendation of nighttime noise levels by the World Health Organization.

Finally, we recommend to your attention an outstanding summary of impacts from industrial wind turbines in Canada. Did you know “Earthworms are absent around turbines. (it is thought to be from the vibration in the ground). Farms need the three types of earthworms to keep the land fertile for crops. No worms, no crops.” Go to http://www.windontario.ca/ for more great, but disturbing information….

How much of Ohio’s electricity is powered by renewable energy?

Five percent? Ten?

According to the most recent annual report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it’s 2 percent.

In other words, 98 percent of the energy powering Ohio’s lights, stoves, air conditioners and so much more is created from nonrenewable sources, like coal and natural gas.

Is that OK? And if not, should state government do anything about it?…

Seitz’s view on clean energy regulations

1. The senator’s view on climate change.

“My view on climate change is that the climate has changed for millions of years and continues to change. I think there may be a contribution from manmade sources.”

2. Seitz: This is about cost.

During a 45-minute interview on the topic, Seitz said, “this is not about renewable energy” and “this is not about coal. … Since everyone is for clean energy and thinks it’s free, we thought it would be a good idea to disclose on their bill just how much we are paying for this stuff … By golly, here we are at the lower reaches of it (3 percent) and we’re going to 12.5 percent on renewables, and we have bill increases of about 9 percent. We’re not trying to protect the utilities here, we are trying to protect the ratepayer … I recently read that wind and solar prices would decline by 59 percent by 2026. So my answer is: We’ll buy it in 2026.” Note: Seitz made clear that he meant an increase of 9 percent on the “generation” portion of people’s utility bills, not the total cost.

2. Renewable energy companies are already getting a tax break.

“Federal taxpayers, which include you, me and everybody I guess but Donald Trump, are paying them a 30 percent subsidy now,” Seitz said, referring to the renewable electricity production tax credit. “Why do you (companies) not only need this generous tax break and require the states to mandate that the utilities buy your overpriced stuff?”

3. Ohio isn’t a good state for solar and wind.

“Natural gas is what we have in Ohio. We are not a particularly good sun or wind state. There are places where that makes a great deal of sense – extremely windy and extremely sunny places.”…

4. Senator asks why create state rules until we know what will happen with the federal Clean Power Plan?

“Under the Clean Power Plan, the federal government mandates to reduce carbon dioxide by 30 some percent by 2030. … Why would we subject Ohio businesses and Ohio residents to escalating costs under the 2008 state mandate until we know how these mandates sync up?”

What did Gov. John Kasich say in Texas?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently sat down with CEO and co-founder of the nonprofit Texas Tribune Evan Smith for The Texas Tribute Festival in Austin, Texas. They spoke about a wide variety of issues facing America, energy and the environment were two of them.

Evan Smith: You, I believe, have said climate change is …

Kasich: I think it’s real. I don’t want to overreact to it, but I think it’s real.

Smith: You know, the mere fact that you say those words, that’s a controversial thing.

Kasich: Look, look. You know, when you get to be in public life, where you get responsibility, put your hands on the wheel and drive the car. What am I supposed to do? Take a poll? Who’s going to like this or that? Now look, when I say I believe there’s climate change, what do you do about it? I’m not for shutting down all this fossil fuel, I think this is extreme.

Smith: You did advocate for a tax on hydraulic fracturing, did you not?

Kasich: Yours (in Texas) is higher than ours, and I’d like to get ours higher so I can cut my income tax, instead of you taking all my liquids out of my state and living high on the hog here in Texas, you know. I like you, but I don’t like that idea. What I’m saying is, I think we need everything. Look, the Tesla is an amazing car. Are we going to get a breakthrough in battery technology? If we do, it will change everything in this country. I believe in solar and wind and all that, but let me tell you, I believe in fossil fuels, as well. With coal – clean it. Dig it, clean it and burn it. Nuclear power, you know … I think there are a lot of people who are extreme, but this environment needs to be managed. I believe this Earth was given to us by the Lord, and we have an obligation to take care of it, but not worship it….

 

Source: Ohio produces less renewable energy than Kentucky. Is that OK?

OPSB issues draft BigWind siting rules- the joke is on us

This past week the Ohio Power Siting Board released its industrial wind facility “Draft Rules” for comment. The OPSB release states:

The public is invited to submit comments on these rules. In an entry dated September 22, 2016, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) issued proposed rules applicable to wind‑powered electric generation facilities in amended Ohio Administrative Code 4906‑4‑08 and newly proposed 4906‑4‑09. The OPSB requests that interested persons submit formal written comments on the proposed rules by October 24, 2016 and reply comments by November 8, 2016. The entry and proposed rules are available in the online record for case number 16-1109-GE-BRO. (We have also attached the proposed rules below.)

Stakeholders may submit comments in case number 16-1109-GE-BRO via electronic filing or in hard copy to: PUCO Docketing Division, 11th Floor, 180 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Following the conclusion of the comment and reply comment period, the OPSB will later issue final rules to be reviewed by the Ohio Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review before taking effect.

Questions regarding the rulemaking may be directed to contactopsb@puco.ohio.gov.

****

Having only given the draft rules a cursory look, we cannot provide you with our detailed assessment at this time BUT we can say they appear to be a complete farce and that they fail to provide any real enforceable protection for residents and property owners. For instance, the draft rule at page 28 addresses noise at adjacent non-participating property. Everyone knows that sound from wind turbines can propagate across miles and varies depending on topography. This alone is an indicator that the rules are designed to facilitate the construction of industrial wind and nothing else. In order to make the industrial power plants seem benign, the rule actually changes the word wind “facility” to wind “farm”. Gee – will fracking sites become oil and gas farms? Anyone up for a nuclear farm?

We all remember the blade failure in Paulding County which occurred as a result of human error when an employee in some remote control center restarted a turbine that had been automatically shut down. Not to worry going forward! The new rules outlaw human error! “Bypass or override of wind turbine safety features or equipment is prohibited.” Feel better now? Not only that, the rules now require the developer to give their best guess on “probabilities” of bad things happening. If the developer doesn’t think that there is a real good chance that high winds could be dangerous, or ice throws could smash through your car window while you are driving down a road, or hit your children while playing in their yards, then Hakuna Matata! No worries!

The rules include the following provisions:

(6) High winds. The applicant shall provide an analysis of the prospects of high winds for the area, including the probability of occurrences and likely consequences of various wind velocities, and describe plans to mitigate any likely adverse consequences.

(1) The ice throw analysis shall, at a minimum, include the probability of ice throw impacts at the nearest property boundary and public road.

(3) In addition to the use of the safety measures enumerated in paragraph (E)(2) of this rule, the potential impact from ice throw shall be presumptively deemed to satisfy safety considerations if the probability of one kilogram of ice landing beyond the statutory property line setback for each turbine location is less than one per cent per year.

We invite you to consider the proposed rule on Noise below which is followed by Union Neighbors United’s January 18th noise comments filed with the OPSB. UNU’s comments were more fully described by its expert noise advisor again on June 9, 2016. Those written comments are attached. The only thing one can say about these “rules” is that once again the OPSB is attempting to provide wind developers with an “unregulated” environment under the guise of “regulation.” Regulation that protects no one is hardly regulation.

OPSB Draft Noise Rule

(2) The facility shall be operated so that the facility noise contribution does not result in noise levels at the adjacent non-participating property that exceed the project area ambient nighttime average sound level (Leq) by five A-weighted decibels (dBA). Non-participating property, for the purpose of this rule, refers to properties not under lease or agreement with the applicant regarding any components of the facility or project. During daytime operation only {seven a.m. to ten p.m.), the facility may operate at the greater of: the project area ambient nighttime Leq plus five dBA; or the validly measured ambient Leq plus five dBA at the location of the adjacent non-participating property. After commencement of commercial operation, the applicant shall conduct further review of the impact and possible mitigation of all project-related noise complaints through its complaint resolution process.

UNU Comment January 18, 2016

(a) Noise:

(i) To prevent annoyance and sleep deprivation from inherently intrusive wind turbine noise, operational noise levels of wind energy facilities should not exceed five dBA above the background sound level at nonparticipating properties. UNU Brief at 22-25. Since this proposed standard applies to nonparticipating properties, the rule should require all background noise measurements to be taken on location at nonparticipating properties wherever possible.2 For purposes of determining compliance with this standard, background noise assessments must be based on the L90 statistical standard, as universally acknowledged in the acoustical engineering profession. Id. at 30. The L90, known as the residual sound level, is the sound level exceeded during 90% of the measurement period. The L90 measures the quietest 10% of a time interval in order to identify the amount of background sound that is normally available to mask turbine noise that otherwise would awaken a person. By measuring the quietest 10% interval, the L90 statistic filters out the sporadic noise from noise events of short duration, such as passing cars.

By removing brief noise spikes, the L90 metric eliminates short-term noise spikes that serve no purpose for masking the sound of a new noise source. Id. (ii) No nonparticipating resident or landowner should be exposed to noise levels greater than 35 dBA and 50 dBC at any time. UNU Brief at 35-40, 44. (iii) The above standards should apply at the property lines of nonparticipating properties, not merely at neighboring residences. Id. at 44-45. (iv) Proposed subsection 4906-4-08(C)(3)(B) requires that the application address “cumulative operational noise levels at the property boundary for each non-participating property adjacent to or within the project area, under both day and nighttime conditions.” As the Board is well aware, wind energy developers often plan their facilities in phases, while in other cases, one developer’s facility is proposed in or near the location of another developer’s facility. In order to assess the cumulative impact of multiple facilities, it is critical that such assessment take into account impacts from other existing, proposed, or planned wind power facilities in addition to impacts from the facility that is the subject of the application. This comment applies not only to assessment of cumulative noise impacts, but also to visual impacts, shadow flicker, and othercumulative facility impacts.

Last June when the OPSB presented an earlier draft of wind rules, UNU asserted the proposed rules conflicted with the intent of legislation to protect the public and that they lacked enforceable standards. We have reprinted a portion of the news report from the Hannah Statehouse News Service from last June wherein” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Notwithstanding we recall that Senator Troy Balderson pointed out to the OPSB’s Legal Director, Angela Hawkins, that there were, in fact, deficiencies in the rules and he expects those deficiencies to be fixed in the upcoming new rulemaking process.

We will report further on these draft rules after we study them a bit more. In the meantime, be thinking about having your local elected officials join you in commenting on the rules when they are due one month from today on October 24th. For now, we think anyone who signs a wind lease, a “good neighbor agreement,” or a waiver should question whether their family, neighbors or community will ever truly be protected by OPSB rules….

The Hannah Statehouse News Service Reported the hearing as follows (emphasis added by Wind News):

Wind Farm Certification Rules Clear JCARR despite Opposition

A new rule revising the content and substance of certificate applications for electric generation facilities, including wind farms, cleared the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) on Monday.

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) rule addresses new wind turbine setback requirements set in 130-HB483…

Lawyer Christopher Walker, representing Union Neighbors United (UNU), testified in opposition to the rule saying it violates the third JCARR prong — conflicting with legislative intent.

“Today’s rule purports to contain the board’s regulations governing health and safety, land use, and ecological impacts of wind energy projects. However, this rule lacks the standards explicitly required by the General Assembly to protect the public health and public interest from the impacts of wind farm operations,” Walker said.

“Neither Rule 4906-4-08 nor the remainder of the board’s rules establish any requirements governing the reconstruction or enlargement of wind turbines, protection of recreational lands or wildlife,” Walker continued. “Furthermore, the rules contain no enforceable standards for wind facility decommissioning or for protection of the public from ice throw, wind turbine noise, blade shear, or shadow flicker. Instead, this rule, which purports to address health and safety impacts of wind energy facilities, is merely a laundry list of various information that a wind energy facility developer must submit to the board and its staff in its application.”

Walker said he was particularly concerned that the rule does not set specific standards for blade and ice throw, noting turbines can fling fragments 1,640 feet. He said the rule is “silent” on this issue.

Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) pointed out the rule requires applicants to evaluate and describe the potential impact from blade shear and ice throw at the nearest property boundary and public road and include plans to mitigate the potential effects and instruct workers of potential hazards. Walker responded by saying he meant the rule does not include enforceable standards on these issues.

Walker said several times that HB562 required “reasonable regulations” “for the protection of the public.” JCARR Chairman Sen. Joe Uecker (R-Loveland) said the General Assembly only required OPSB write “reasonable regulations,” and did not include the phrase “for the protection of the public.” Walker acknowledged the latter phrase was not included in the law….

 

BigWind blowing lots of hot air in Ohio (and Indiana)

 

Speaking up and speaking out are important – we are reminded of the phrase “you create your own future.” At the risk of seeming over confident, we think those who are speaking out in Ohio and in Indiana are truly creating a better future for themselves and their communities.

First things first. One Van Wert County Commissioner has stepped forward to publicly express what he thinks and we blogged about this last week. Todd Wolfrum was first elected County Commissioner in 2013. He is a practicing attorney who also writes a weekly column for the local newspaper pertaining to estate planning and other legal matters of interest to the public. Commissioner Wolfrum also sits on the local hospital board, the Community Investment Corporation and he is President of the Regional Planning Commission. His main interests are promoting advanced education and the generation of business opportunities in the Van Wert area. In winning his current seat on the Board of County Commissioners, Wolfrum defeated the Superintendent of Vantage Career Center in a landslide – garnering 65% of the vote. Why is this important? Because the Vantage Superintendent is an outspoken supporter of industrial wind who has testified on behalf of wind. Vantage operates the wind technician training programs for local developers. Wolfrum’s credentials speak to the fact that he is not some crazy anti-wind nut to be ignored.

On July 2nd, Commissioner Wolfrum used his newspaper column to express his thoughts on wind. He questions what would happen if Sub HB 190 were to pass (which it won’t) giving local commissioners more authority over siting and setbacks. He states that after giving Iberdrola a 70-80% tax reduction through PILOT because Van Wert County had chosen to be designated as an Alternative Energy Zone, the Commissioners realized they had made a mistake and they rescinded their AEZ designation going forward. Now, they speculate that if a developer wanted to get a tax break, they would have to come up with a proposal and put it up for a vote – but who would be eligible to vote? Everyone in the County? “It does not seem appropriate that areas that stand only to benefit from a taxing scheme be allowed to vote to burden another area.”….” I don’t know a definition of fair that would allow Van Wert City voters, an overwhelming majority of the school district, to determine this issue for Liberty Township.”…”But, imagine if we started giving tax breaks to incentivize a hog farm to locate next door to you?”…” If you are in the pro crowd, I would advise against trying to pressure us to force windmills on a population that, as of now, does not want them.” …” And perhaps there is no way to win support. But if a majority of people in a zone for a proposed wind farm cannot be convinced to accept a tax plan, then someone will need to explain why it should be forced on them over their objection, because that is really the only thing that has been proposed to date.”

This is something to think about as the legislature continues to grapple with how to deal with the renewable mandate. Before December 31, 2016, the General Assembly (Ohio) must do one of three things: eliminate the mandates, continue the “temporary freeze” or resume the mandates. Governor Kasich has said he will not accept the elimination of the mandates. But, resumption of the mandates will put pressure on communities where developers want to build. Almost every community with the exception of Hardin County and perhaps Seneca will, like Logan County and now Van Wert, object to the burden of hosting an industrial wind facility or granting tax incentives for doing so. Why mandate a source of power generation that requires tax incentives that most are unwilling to support in their community? The reality of Ohio is that we rank 7th nationally in population density and we are not a suitable place for the development of industrial wind. Perhaps, Commissioner Wolfrum has made that point a little clearer for our legislators.

In Indiana, the story is the same. Multiple counties are pushing back hard and “A wind-farm aversion is driving a handful of other rural counties – including some that already have turbines – to put moratoriums on any future development as local debate unfolds. “They’re losing favor all over the state,” said Campbell, who’s now working with like-minded opposition in other communities. Ben Kenney, of the Indiana Office of Energy Development is reported to have pledged that “the state won’t push for wind-energy projects where they’re not welcome. “ via:  http://www.batesvilleheraldtribune.com/news/local_news/wind-farms-whipping-up-opposition-across-rural-indiana/article_c0e2464e-b771-50a9-a4ac-14cd84f738d2.html  

How about it in Ohio? We think the Ohio Public Utilities Commission and the Ohio Power Siting Board has one of the worst records of facilitating wind development over the objections of Ohio communities who do not want them. And now comes the appointment of Vorys attorney Howard Petricoff to the Public Utilities Commission. Word on the street is that Mr. Petricoff has demonstrated a poor record of acting in the public interest during his career representing wind developers and others in the electricity business. In fact, the Statehouse news reports are that “The top Democrat on that Senate panel, Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), likewise wants hearings on whether Gov. John Kasich’s nominee is the best fit for the office…. As the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Williams said in an interview she is “not impressed” with the governor’s selection.” Petricoff’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:00 in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. 

Tuesday is a double header of sorts in that oral arguments will be heard in the Ohio Supreme Court on Champaign County’s appeal of the OPSB approval of Amendments to the Buckeye Wind project. The Court will convene at 9:00 a.m. sharp and anyone who is able to attend is encouraged to do so. A show of support for Champaign County and the Townships would be appreciated.  The County and Townships assert two points in their appeal:

A. The Board’s approval of Applicant’s amendments in its Order of February 18, 2014 and its Order of May 19, 2014, without holding a required hearing was unreasonable and unlawful, as such amendments would result in a material increase in the environmental impact of the facility or a substantial change in the location of all or a portion of such facility.

B. The Board’s approval of the amendments in its Order of February 18, 2014 and its Order of May 19, 2014, without hearing was unreasonable and unlawful, as it denied Appellants County and Townships the only opportunity to be heard.

If the Court finds in favor of Champaign County and the amendments are sent back to the OPSB for a hearing, it is presumed that property line setbacks would be applied to the EverPower Project. A separate pending appeal from Union Neighbors United in connection with the extension of the certificate for Buckeye I has not been scheduled for a hearing.

Recent maddening news is that the wind lobby (aka Big Wind) is ramping up their $$green$$ machine to go after more of everything: more “purchased” politicians to deliver more federal tax credits and more local tax incentives; more lenient conservation rules; more renewable mandates; more biased news reports; blah blah blah. American Wind Action (“AWA”) has been born. “AWA, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) advocacy group, can engage in political campaign activities as long as those efforts are not its primary activity. At its launch, it claimed an “initial seven-figure budget.” Enfield declined to specify just how much AWA has raised so far or where it will target its funding. But he indicated the main focus will be states where pro-wind-energy policies such as tax breaks and minimum requirements for renewable energy appear to be at risk.” Look for AWA recruits in your neighborhood or under a rock at your area career center and defend against them because, as we said at the outset, “You create your own future.”….

The U.S. wind energy industry is the fastest-growing new source of electricity in the country. But it’s not resting on its laurels, especially in an election year.

Hence the launch of American Wind Action, a group that will promote the benefits of wind energy to the public…

“We will be working to identify and activate supporters of wind energy to encourage action from their elected officials, and we will educate the public about the actions and positions those officials take on wind energy…

Source: Turbine industry aims to keep tailwind blowing

Corruption and Politics at the Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court opinion is still being digested – many people think it ranks among the worst decisions ever made and that it reeks of politics. The majority’s justifications for its decision would be laughable if they were not so injurious to not only Champaign County but to other communities who follow. UNU argued the project did not meet the public interest but the Court found that the generation of electricity meets the public interest even though there was no evidence of unmet demand for power. UNU argued the setbacks were inadequate and showed that the blade throw in Paulding County went further than the approved setbacks and that the legislature had even changed the setbacks to exceed what the OPSB had previously approved. The Court said that the Phase II setbacks were the same as the Phase I setbacks so they were okay despite the fact the setbacks from Phase I are now illegal for any new projects. We could go on but the analysis below gives a fairly detailed analysis….

The Ohio Supreme Court let stand a certificate to construct a 52-turbine wind farm granted to a company planning to build its second operation in Champaign County.

The Supreme Court voted 5-2 to reject a challenge to the Ohio Power Siting Board’s construction certificate issued to Champaign Wind LLC, which seeks to build the Buckeye Wind II wind farm. The Court rejected arguments by Champaign County governmental entities and a collection of citizen groups opposing the construction of the wind-powered electric-generation facility. Writing for the Court, Justice Judith L. French ruled the siting board’s order was neither unlawful nor unreasonable and that alleged errors by the board in the siting process did not affect the overall outcome.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sharon L. Kennedy wrote the board improperly rejected evidence of a “blade throw” at another Ohio wind farm and expert testimony on how to accurately gauge the noise from the facility that would justify further restrictions on the location of the turbines….

 

In her opinion, Justice French divides the objections of the opponents into four categories:

Blade throw and setbacks
Wind-turbine noise
Requirements under the state’s public interest, convenience, and necessity law
Procedural and evidence-related arguments.
Paulding County Blade Throw Stirs Debate
Justice French explained that a “blade throw” is a potentially dangerous occurrence at wind farms and happens when a turbine blade or blade segment tears off and is thrown from the turbine. The opponents argue the siting board did not appropriately consider an April 2012 blade throw from a Paulding County wind farm where the largest piece of blade traveled 764 feet from the failed turbine….

 

The opponents also argued the incident demonstrated the minimum distance setbacks approved by the board were insufficient to protect neighboring properties. Justice French noted the General Assembly has since required greater setbacks than mandated at the time the board approved the Buckeye Wind II application, which required a minimum setback of 541 feet from a neighbor’s property line and 919 feet from a neighbor’s residence.

The citizen group argued the setback should be at a minimum of 1,640 feet from a property line based on the location of smaller pieces of blade found after the Paulding County incident, and other reports of blade throws from around the world. The county argued the manufacturer’s safety manuals justified a setback of at least 1,300 feet.

Justice French wrote the Court considers the siting board to be in the best position to consider the disputed claims, and noted it considered the evidence presented by the company, the opponents, and the siting board staff.(haha, is this a joke? the OPSB has NEVER said NO to BigWind) The staff disagreed with the county’s claims and suggested the proposed locations met the minimum required setbacks of most, if not all, of the wind-turbine manufacturers. Justice French indicated the setbacks were the same as those approved for the first Buckeye Wind operation and the Court “concluded that ample evidence supports the board’s approval of the setbacks.”…

 

“The county and neighbors were active participants at every stage of the board proceeding. Indeed, 36 witnesses testified at the three-week hearing, with the neighbors presenting six witnesses and the county presenting four,” Justice French wrote. “The parties introduced 122 exhibits, and the hearing resulted in a 3,010-page transcript. The board issued a comprehensive opinion reviewing and addressing all of the parties’ arguments.”

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Terrence O’Donnell(remember, he now has family connection who now works for a BigWind company), Judith Ann Lanzinger, and William M. O’Neill joined the opinion.

Dissent Argues Critical Evidence Ignored
Justice Kennedy noted that while the Court has affirmed prior siting board approvals of wind farms, this is the first time it considered the setbacks since an Ohio wind farm threw a blade, and the first case where opponents offered expert opinions challenging the correct way to calculate background noise in a rural area.

Justice Kennedy noted that while Champaign Wind agreed not to use the turbine that was involved in a blade throw in Paulding County, all of the turbine makers being considered by the company use virtually the same systems and have nearly the same risks. She explained the siting board found credible evidence that the six-and-a-half-pound piece of blade thrown 764 feet in that incident had the same force as a 40-pound block being dropped from an eight-story building.

She wrote that when the Court approved the 541-foot setback for the first wind farm in 2012, the only evidence presented showed a blade could be thrown 500 feet. Since the evidence shows a blade from a model similar to those under consideration in Champaign County can travel more than 700 feet, the minimum setbacks approved by the board are insufficient.

“In this case, the board’s continued use of the minimum property setback of 541 feet fails to minimize the adverse effect that a blade throw can have on the property of a nonparticipating owner,” she wrote. “Therefore, the setbacks approved in the certificate are unreasonable because they are against the manifest weight of the evidence.”

Regarding the turbine noise, Justice Kennedy points out there are two methods to measure background noise – Leq and L90, and the company’s expert used the Leq method even though in his opinion it was unsuitable for the project. All the acoustical experts who testified agreed the method used to calculate background noise in this case was an inappropriate method which was unsuitable for wind turbines in a rural area. The expert for Champaign Wind said he used the unsuitable method because it was the method previously used in Ohio. Because all the experts agreed an unsuitable method was used to calculate background noise, the board acted unreasonably in its continued use of an unsupported method in the face of contrary expert testimony, Justice Kennedy concluded.

“Granting a certificate, as the board did here, on the basis of an unsuitable method to calculate background noise in a rural area that permits the facility to emit a noise level that is known to exceed health limits, where the noise becomes ‘intrusive and annoying’ is not only unreasonable, it is unconscionable and unlawful,” she wrote.

Justice Paul E. Pfeifer joined her dissent.

Source: Certificate for Company’s Second Wind Farm in Champaign County Approved

Ohio BigWind doesn’t have ‘their ducks in a row’

The Dayton and Springfield papers report on HB 190 to give County Commissioners the opportunity to reduce the setbacks currently provided in the law. UNU notes that only the opportunity to reduce – not lengthen – setbacks is proposed. If current setbacks are the MINIMUM, we can only conclude that to reduce them would put families in harm’s way. We encourage everyone to watch the video shot earlier this month when a wind turbine failed in Germany and a 176 lb “fragment” was thrown 1, 670 feet. This short video gives an excellent overview of the debris field. We are reminded of the blade failure in 2012 at the Timber Road II wind farm in Paulding County. Blade Throw

A Windlab representative and the attorney for Greenwich Neighbors United appeared at a recent Township Trustee meeting to address the fact that 62% of the turbines in the Greenwich Wind project do not meet minimum setbacks and waivers have not been secured. The OPSB has approved the project despite Windlab’s failure to obtain setback waivers. GNU will appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. So, is Ohio ‘out of step’ with the rest of the country/world with our current setbacks?

In Boone County, Illinois an ordinance was passed that all wind turbines must be placed at a minimum of 2640 feet from a PROPERTY LINE. Waivers are allowed, which can reduce the turbine setback down to 1,500 feet from a residence ONLY if the host or neighbor agrees to the wind energy company’s waiver. 1,500 feet from a residence is the minimum distance allowed. The waivers would be negotiated with individual neighbors and land owners. Setbacks from roads or easement are now set at twice the turbine height. “Mainstream Renewables was attempting to develop a wind farm in Boone County, but tonight’s vote by well-informed county board members effectively rejected the wind industry’s claims that industrial wind turbines were merely “annoying” and not necessarily “harmful” at distances less than 0.5 miles from property lines. Mainstream Renewable’s attorney, James Griffin, tried to make claims that the setback waiver would be “unconstitutional,” but the Boone County State’s attorney did not support his argument.”   Boone County setback

In Falmouth, MA where the wind turbines have been a source of ongoing headaches for local government and residents, it now comes to light that the City government was advised by Vestas that the noise ratings of the turbines would be substantially higher under certain conditions and that the manufacturer had concerns about safety from ice throw. The 2010 letter which has just come to light states “The manufacturer also needs confirmation that the Town of Falmouth understands they are fully responsible for the site selection of the turbine and bear all responsibilities to address any mitigation needs of the neighbors.” It is hard to fathom why it took five years for this letter to be made public.

We provide information on the wind turbine siting rules for Freedom, Maine where “To protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of Freedom, Turbines shall be set back from the property line of any non-participating land owner a distance of no less than 13 times the turbine height.” That would be about 4,000 feet for a 300’ turbine. The noise measurements are standard 5 decibels over background and shadow flicker is limited to 10 hours a year.  Maine setback ……

A developer of wind energy said Tuesday she’s excited to begin construction of a wind turbine park in rural Greenwich and looks forward to the project generating money for the community.

But Jensen is way ahead of herself, according to an attorney for a group of rural Greenwich residents opposed to the project.

“They don’t have all their ducks in a row,” said the attorney, Sam Randazzo of the Columbus-area firm McNees Wallace & Nurick. He represents the group of residents calling themselves Greenwich Neighbors United.

The lawyer, who specializes in energy and Jensen were in the same room following a Greenwich Township Trustees meeting on Tuesday. After the township officials met, Randazzo explained to a roomful of residents who oppose the project that Jensen has work to do before construction can begin.

Jensen listened to Randazzo without expressing noticeable outward signs of disapproval.

Randazzo has said out of the project’s 25 turbines, 62 percent violate the minimum setback requirements, amounting to “at least 100 (affected) property owners.”…

Source: ‘They don’t have all their ducks in a row’

Everpower has their hands full with Ohio lawsuits

In Champaign County, the Urbana Daily Citizen reports that the County and Township governments did not file requests for rehearing of the OPSB’s decision to grant Everpower’s certificate extension. Presumably, these governments have their hands full with their two other active lawsuits. Additionally, below this discussion is an enticing offer from Everpower for some of their leaseholders.  If they provide a 1-time payout to the leaseholder, it will cost them less over the lifetime of the project. Everpower is seeking a bank that might assist them in this initiative. Is this a new strategy to attract leaseholders?….

Citizens group Union Neighbors United UNU filed an application for rehearing Wednesday against an Ohio Power Siting Board OPSB decision in the Buckeye Wind project….

In the application for rehearing, UNU contends that the board’s decision is unlawful and unreasonable for multiple reasons including the extension amends an express term of the original certificate issued to the project applicant without complying with legally-mandated procedure for certificate amendments, the board lacking legal authority to waive or alter procedures applicable to the amendment of certificate and because the project developer has not shown good cause to extend the certificate by motion or otherwise.

UNU questions why EverPower has been unable to begin a continuous course of construction within the original five-year term of the certificate and contends that the developer has shown no evidence to demonstrate that litigation prevented this.

The intervenors also argue that the extension request is a response to new state laws….

via Wind intervenors file application for rehearing – Urbana Citizen – urbanacitizen.com.

From EverPower Newsletter Vol. 3 Issue 2

 Annual Landowner Payment Buyout – Is it right for you?

Everpower has had a number of landowners express an interest in receiving a one-time up-front payment in place of their annual royalty checks. Due to the number of requests we have received, and in an effort to be accommodating to those who have supported our projects, Everpower is currently considering such an arrangement.

In order to assess the present value of future annual payments, Everpower will need to appraise each project’s future performance, which will include forecasts of energy production, power prices, renewable energy credit prices, wind turbine reliability, and take a view on state and federal renewable energy policies over the life of the project. Everpower will likely team up with a lender to make one-time payments, which will also carry with them and interest rate cost. Due to these factor, the calculation of  the amount of money that Everpower could pay for each one-time payment has some complexity to it….

We understand that the one-time payment may not be the right option for everyone, but it may have advantages for some who would rather not wait until the end of the life of a project to recover value from their annual payments….