NW Ohio, eyed for ‘wind corridor’, may now change map

Due to the POOR wind in Ohio, per the National Renewable Energy Lab, Representative Brown must surely be including OTHER STATES in his ‘wind corridor’?! All the Ohio turbines produce energy a mere 30% of the time, and we know from our previous post, this intermittent energy is EXPENSIVE and not necessary.  Is someone padding the pockets of these legislators? Why would they want to INcrease our electricity rates? Why would they want to HURT our businesses and, eventually, our job security? Why would they want to take away our property rights???????

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would create an Ohio Wind Corridor encompassing much of the northwestern portion of the state that could be spared from property setback restrictions the industry contends make new large-scale wind farms impractical.

“This is the area that has the most consistent wind patterns to allow [the wind industry] to make investment with a reasonable return,” said Rep. Tim Brown (R., Bowling Green), who is sponsoring House Bill 190 with Rep. Tony Burkley (R., Payne).

Mr. Brown said he’s open to adding other geographic territory to the corridor.

The language was inserted in House Bill 190 last week as a possible way for the region to get around restrictions enacted in 2014 that require newly installed wind turbines to be located at least 1,300 feet from the nearest property line. Prior law required the extended tip of a turbine to be at least 1,125 from the nearest home….

The bill would allow the Ohio Power Siting Board to develop alternative minimum setback restrictions within the northwest wind corridor that, Mr. Brown said, could be geographic or project specific. As introduced, the bill would have given counties the option of imposing the old setback requirement instead of the more restrictive one…
The bill is pending before the House Public Utilities Committee but is not expected to move before lawmakers recess as early as next week for the summer…

In testimony submitted last week, Julia F. Johnston of Urbana told the committee that the impact of wind farms, particularly in mechanical accidents, can stretch well into neighbors’ property.

“Not every location is a good place for wind development,” she said. “Most wind developers are not in the energy business but are private equity investors looking for a handsome return subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers.

“H.B. 190 would now add Ohio families living in the Wind Corridor as subsidy providers where they would be forced to donate their land if setbacks are not measured from property lines,” Ms. Johnston said. “We call this ‘trespass zoning.’…”
Source: NW Ohio eyed for creation of ‘wind corridor’

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.

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….

 

Winds of change blow Everpower out of Ohio…

More than a month ago, we learned that Everpower intended to close its Bellefontaine, Ohio office on or about August 1st.  At the time, the Bellefontaine Examiner called to verify the story and Jason Dagger denied it.  On July 22nd, Everpower’s Dagger and Mike Pullins sent a letter to Buckeye Wind Leaseholders advising them that the local office is indeed closing and the Pittsburgh office will handle any related business.  The letter goes on to say Dagger and Pullins will continue to be available locally and that an ‘operations and maintenance facility’ will open when construction begins.  In the meantime, they express concern over the ‘uncertainty’ caused by the renewable energy freeze and the elimination of the in-state mandate (SB310) as well as the threat of new setback requirements.  Everpower believes the change in setback language was enacted without any ‘qualified experts’ like the wind industry.  They assert that the language implementing new setbacks is ‘unclear’ but could impact Buckeye I and II and Scioto Ridge.  Notwithstanding, Dagger and Pullins remain optimistic that the projects will go forward but warn that “Landowners and community support is more critical than ever.”  They as for a demonstration of “Strong community support” and state:

“The more that is demonstrated by public officials, the better the investment environment for Everpower.  We encourage you, your family and friends to reach out to your local officials and share your support of the projects and ask that they take a public stand in support of the projects.”

We do not know what this plea for support means.  We do know that Pullins and Dagger have asked the Union, Urbana, and Goshen township trustees to withdraw their lawsuit filed in the Ohio Supreme court on July 16th.  They have attended Township Trustee meetings recently to vigorously argue for a negotiation rather than a court action.  The County and the Townships current appeal to the supreme court makes the case that Everpower was unlawfully granted amendments to their certificate withOUT a hearing.  Thie is important to understand because it appears they are trying to do it again by filing a motion to extend the deadline of the their certificate of approval.  Under the current certificate of approval, Everpower must dommence construction by March 22, 2015.  By attempting to obtain an extension by motion INSTEAD of an application, Everpower eliminats the opportunity for the public to comment.  If Everpower is required to file and APPLICATION seeking an extension, the public would have an opportunity to comment.  More important, if the Ohio Power Siting Board were required to hold a hearing on the request for an extension, it likely would not hold the hearing before the new setbacks become effective September 15th.

Please take this opportunity to let the Township Trustees and County Commissioners know you support their appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.  If you believe and application should be required for Everpower’s certificate extension, please let them know NOW.  If you would like to write to the Ohio Power Siting Board to request a hearing on the extension of Everpower’s certificate, you can email the OPSB at contactOPSB@puc.state.oh.us  and you must reference this case no:  08-0666-EL-BGN.  Written comments can be mailed to OPSB 180 E Broad St, Columbus, Ohio  43215 and you must also include the case number.

 

Will Ohio SB310 begin a ‘domino’ effect to repeal BigWind mandates?

Today will be a busy day as around 30 witnesses will testify in the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee concerning Senate Bill 310.  Today’s Columbus Dispatch reports that the bill may spark a national movement toward repealing mandates for renewable energy.  Americans for Prosperity has thrown their support behind the bill. 

The Urbana Daily Citizen reports that two appeals were rejected by the Ohio Power Siting Board.  Both appeals were directed toward Everpower projects: Buckeye Wind and Scioto Ridge.  In Scioto Ridge, the citizens were trying to address the fact that they had no real opportunity to  register objections to the project because most are summer people in the Indian Lake area.  Everpower waited until after Labor Day when they were gone, to hold a public hearing.   In Champaign County, the County and Townships had objected to amendments in the Buckeye I project that moved the staging area further to the east and made modifications to roads and underground lines.  Today, one of the witnesses who will testify  in support of Senate Bill 310 is a County Engineer who has similar concerns about damage to local infrastructure that may be beyond the County’s financial ability to repair…

Ohio is on the cusp of becoming the first state to significantly ease its renewable-energy standards, a milestone that would be noticed in statehouses across the country where similar debates are being waged.

Proposals have gained traction in Kansas and several other states and have at least been introduced in a dozen or so others.

But none has had as much success as Ohio’s Senate Bill 310, which has passed the Senate and appears poised to pass the House as soon as this week.

The Ohio bill would place a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also would repeal a rule that says utilities must buy half of their renewable energy from in-state sources and would make it easier for utilities to buy low-cost hydroelectric power and count it toward the standards.

Many of the same groups with an interest in the subject are active in multiple states. The American Wind Energy Association, Sierra Club and others are fighting to maintain rules that say utilities must obtain a certain amount of their energy from renewable sources. Meanwhile, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and Americans for Prosperity are helping to push for change in the rules….

via If Ohio eases green-energy rules, will it spark national trend? | The Columbus Dispatch.