As the Senate proceeds to consider how to deal with HB 6, one issue is whether to narrow the focus in order to gain Senate support.  That would likely mean that the local referendum language would be stripped out of the bill. House members would object to such changes and continue to stress the bill is a “package”.  Of course, Sen. Dolan would surely be in favor of eliminating the referendum language.  Testimony for remaining supporters of the bill will be heard on Wednesday, June 19 at 2:00 pm in the Senate Finance Hearing Room.   We have a number of individuals who will either provide written or oral testimony.

During Sponsor testimony last week, Chairman Wilson asked Rep. Callender to prioritize the various elements of the bill.  “”It’s a jobs bill. It’s a subsidy bill. It’s an energy standards change. It’s an energy efficiency change…. Because we’re going to have to set some things aside, would you prioritize for me those things?”   Rep. Callender declined.     Sen. Eklund and Sen. Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland)  asked whether Lake Erie’s Icebreaker should be included.   Callender responded that Icebreaker wanted a direct tax on everyone’s bill and it would be a bad precedent.

Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima) wondered why a few solar projects were included and whether or not solar incentives were no different than a solar mandate.  Callender said the difference was that it was support for in-state generation.  The current renewable portfolio standard is often met by the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits from out of state wind and solar projects.  More than $50 million of Ohio ratepayer fees have gone toward the purchase of RECs from out of state generation.

The issue of relaxing setbacks was raised by both Ranking Minority Member Williams and by Sen. Dolan.  Dolan blamed current setbacks for causing the RPS program to fail to meet expectations.   Callender countered that the setback issue was too controversial to take on given the tight timeframe for acting on HB 6 but he agreed that it was an issue that deserved to be considered at a later date.

The Sponsor hearing as well as the Proponent hearing held the following day were not video recorded.  We have attached the testimony of Michael Shellenberger who once again travelled from California to offer support for the bill.

The key issue for wind warriors this week is to urge that the Referendum stay in the bill.   This is NOT ABOUT SETBACKS – it is about the right of the community to assess the opportunity cost and determine whether the cost is greater than the benefit.  The OPSB does not have the authority to make that decision.  Nor can they substitute their opinion for that of the local community. They cannot deny a permit to a developer who meets their siting  criteria.  Nothing can stop a project that follows the rules even if the rules are not protective.   OPSB can lengthen the setbacks in theory but in practice they do not.  The OPSB does not consider the cumulative effects of multiple projects.   Only the affected township voters can fairly make those evaluations.

The media were filled with arguments both pro and con.   The Sierra Club takes the cake for the absolute worst fearmongering, misleading pile of garbage.  Thanks go to Deb Hay and Barbara Behling for writing letters to the Editor.  We encourage others to keep trying because the opposing forces are getting an awful lot of ink.   No one in their right mind should take direction from the Sierra Club but it appears they have found fellow anti-HB 6 compatriots in unlikely places such as the Heritage Foundation and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Thank you to our neighbors to the North for an outstanding video of democracy in action.   We urge everyone to watch https://youtu.be/9knJPgrZKjo  .  It is a beautiful statement.

  • The Heritage Foundation wrote a ridiculous piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.   There is no recognition of the fact that the nuclear plants supply 15% of the state’s electricity and 80% of it’s clean energy.  No recognition of the fact that natural gas, abundant because of technology advancement, drove prices down while renewables were subsidized thus making it hard for nuclear to compete profitably.  No recognition that current technological development in the nuclear field is well underway.  Like hydrofracking when the renewable mandate was adopted, advanced nuclear will be a reality tomorrow. It makes no sense to take educated people with nuclear expertise and throw them overboard when the existing plants have at least twenty years of life left.
  • The Sierra Club argues against supporting the continued use of Davis Besse and Perry because they assert the materials required to build new plants are harmful to the environment.  They neglect to mention that none of the nuclear  plants in operation today will ever be built again because technology has evolved. Furthermore, half of the nation’s nuclear fleet is powered by re-processed fuel rods made from former Soviet nuclear weapons that were decommissioned under the START Treaty.  We could go on but it is too painful.  Oh and by the way, they say Ohio’s setbacks are the most restrictive in the nation. 
  • The HBO movie, Chernobyl, comes at an unfortunate time.  It seems to be having the same effect as China Syndrome did twenty years ago.  Michael Shellenberger comes to the rescue to describe in detail the falsehood and fiction that permeates throughout the movie.  Of course, it is doubtful that Sierra Clubbers will ever read Shellenberger. Their brains have been nuked by the Kool-Ade.  It is a pity ignorance isn’t painful.
  • Clean energy expert, James Conca writes a good review for Forbes in which he makes the argument for keeping the nuclear plants open. Conca says “It is important to realize that the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants in Ohio provide over ten times more non-emitting electricity than all the State’s wind and solar combined.. If they are closed prematurely, there is no hope of replacing that amount of non-emitting power with renewables by 2030, even with extreme applications of energy efficiency.”
  • Sarah E. Hunt, Director of the Center for Innovation and Technology at ALEC writes a quite a ‘renewable’ article.  We call it renewable because it is nothing more than a pile of compost.  She claims: “Most families worry about paying their bills, finding good jobs, and protecting the health of loved ones. HB 6 makes it harder for Ohio families to succeed on all these fronts— it raises electricity bills for Ohio families and businesses, does nothing to abate respiratory illness causing air pollution, and makes it virtually impossible to build new, job-creating clean energy projects in the state.”    FAKE NEWS.  HB 6 lowers consumer electric bills; prevents the loss of carbon free energy which would otherwise be replaced by natural gas; and actually facilitates the on-site growth of industrial wind by raising current limits from 5MW to 20MW.  Pants-on-Fire Hunt goes on to promote the lie that the right of referendum will stop wind projects that are under construction.  Five Pinocchio’s for you.  She then threatens Republicans that there will be consequences at the ballot box!
  • The Audubon Society writes a letter we can only describe as laughable.  They essentially argue that replacing clean energy with carbon emitting natural gas and bird Cuisinarts aka turbines will save the birds. “Some 2.4 million Ohioans watch birds, and 3.5 million wildlife watchers spent $2 billion dollars here for equipment, supplies and travel in one year. Audubon’s Birds and Climate Report found that more than half of all North American bird species are threatened by climate change. That’s not only a terrible loss for nature but a detrimental impact to the economic health of Ohio’s communities.” These folks think putting turbines in the middle of the world’s third most important migratory flyway is okay, too.
  • Another report asserts, “When asked if they would be willing to continue to operate the plants and accept the bailout on the condition that an independent third-party verify they need the money first both now and in future years; First Energy  said that would not be something the investors would care to do. State Senator Rob McColley sits on the committee that is hearing the bill in the Senate right now. “It’s only right that we ask that we have an independent verification system for the actual need of this not just today but in the future out years and so I think there is something that we need to take a look at there, and if they’re not willing to submit to that, I think we need to ask why,” said McColley. “    We do not know if this is true but it would seem a solution to the impasse could be worked out.
  • Another crazy lady is Marilou Johanek. We think she has been hanging out with Sarah Hunt from ALEC or maybe she just suffers from an acute case of Trump derangement syndrome.  She writes: “It gets worse. In H.B. 6, most renewable energy (wind, solar) projects are ineligible for the same clean air subsidies approved for nuclear and fossil fuel protection. The legislation also further undermined the wind industry in Ohio with new hurdles for establishing wind farms.”  The wind and solar folks refused to allow nuclear into their “clean energy” sandbox.  So the fees consumers were being charged under the mandates were eliminated along with the mandates. Wind and solar can still seek payments under the Clean Air Program but the catch is they will have to produce electricity.  What a concept.  And providing a voice to impacted communities is described as a “new hurdle”. Whatever.
  • The Farm Bureau weighs in on HB 6 without the drama.  “HB 6 is one of many energy bills introduced in recent years. Ohio Farm Bureau has previously remained neutral on these various energy bills and will remain neutral on House Bill 6 as well.”   It would have been nice if they supported the right of rural citizens to have a voice in putting industrial wind in rural residential neighborhoods but I guess that would be too much too ask.  Remember that when your membership renewal comes up.
  • A left-winger from suburban Columbus writes a letter to the Editor choosing wind over nuclear. His justification?  “You can’t really see carcinogens in the water and food and that nuclear plant is on the other side of those hills so it’s not your problem, right? When it comes to energy sources here in Ohio, are you really going to choose widespread, all-affecting environmental scourge, carcinogens, toxins, climate change and possible radioactive disaster because it is “quiet and invisible” over merely noisy and unsightly to an extremely small percentage of the population?”
  • Bellevue’s Deb Hay gets her two cents in with a letter to the Editor of the Columbus Dispatch.  “Even if we buried an area of Ohio about the size of Rhode Island in industrial wind generators, they still would not produce the consistent, robust energy that our two nuclear facilities make. In 2013 Ohio had an extended polar vortex during which natural gas pipelines could not keep up. What saved the day in 2013 and kept us all from freezing in northern Ohio? It was our two nuclear plants.”
  • Lorry Wagner and the Icebreaker clan now owned by Norway’s Fred Olsen, pen an update on the Lake Erie demonstration project.  He is proud of the fact they have snagged $60 million worth of subsidies/support. But he then goes onto say, “If we have learned anything, it’s that we need even more support in finding expedient ways to materialize ideas that can impact lives across the country. It is my hope that the Icebreaker Wind demonstration project can be just that: a chance to show cities and leaders across the country that this can be our future. After all, Rhode Island (the smallest state in the country) has done that on the East Coast — where $70 billion of offshore wind energy projects are now in various stages of development.”  $$$$$$$$$  Zzzzz……
  • In the Wild West of Wind, the author posits that an “emerging body of scientific evidence shows that wind farm “wakes” — or the air flow downwind of an active turbine — can significantly diminish the energy potential of the wind for nearby developers, who tend to cluster near limited transmission points.  Left unchecked, wind farm wakes could lead to less efficient energy generation, disputes between developers and lost royalties for the public. … For wind facilities located up to a half-mile behind an active turbine, wakes can lead to both premature equipment fatigue and decreased electricity production, according to research DuVivier and her colleagues published in the journal Nature Energy in January.
  • The head of the Nuclear Energy Agency testified on Capitol Hill recently concerning the ongoing premature closing of nuclear plants.   “”We have analyzed the reasons for these trends and they are varied and complex. Some countries have made political decisions to eschew nuclear or to emphasize other energy options at the expense of nuclear energy. Some countries face public resistance and concern about nuclear power plants in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. But the most important drivers for the declining prospects for nuclear energy in the U.S. and in many other OECD countries are economic“First and foremost, the electricity markets have become dysfunctional in many markets around the world. It is not unusual to see market prices for electricity at zero or even negative during parts of the day. In many countries, the power companies that have provided reliable supplies of electricity face shrinking revenues just as the need for new investment is at its highest. I have had the leaders of power companies in several countries indicate to me that the only capacity they can afford to build is that which is subsidized by governments. These are no longer “markets” in any real sense.”   The Director goes on to say, “In the case of very high shares of variable renewables, such as 75%, our work shows that the cost of providing electricity skyrockets–easily double what it could be because of the variable and unpredictable nature of renewable supply and the fact that, according to our work, total capacity would need to triple in size if the share of renewables were to reach very high levels. Such a system would also be faced with considerable inefficiencies and many technical challenges.”
  • Montgomery County, Indiana residents are doing cartwheels after getting approval to establish zoning for industrial wind turbines.  The new regulations will require: Turbines only allowed in Industrial Zoned Areas; 2,640’ minimum set back from non-participating residences; Property Value Guarantee; 600’ Turbine Height Max; 1 mile setback from any town, city, or school; 32 dba noise level maximum; Special Exceptions are allowed, but there is strong protection from Wind being easily allowed in rural areas.    Apex is not happy.
  • In what one commissioner called a “historic” decision, North Dakota utility regulators denied a siting permit for a wind farm in the state’s northwest corner following opposition from state and federal wildlife agencies Wednesday, June 12.  Public Service Commissioners unanimously rejected NextEra Energy Resources’ application for the siting permit, the first time they remembered doing so for any energy facility during their tenures. Regulators and project developers typically work out issues before a final decision is made, they said.
  • South Korea has ordered a string of extra safety measures after a months-long investigation into 23 fires at battery energy storage systems (ESS), most linked to wind and solar plants.  Government officials blamed a range of factors for the blazes, which broke out over the course of a year and prompted the suspension of more than 500 ESS facilities in the country.  So much for storage!
  • Bankrupt Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Corp. won a key legal victory as a judge ruled that federal regulators cannot prevent the giant California utility from amending or exiting up to $42bn of energy supply contracts including those for 7.7GW of renewables.   After being sued for the California wildfires, PG&E declared bankruptcy and is trying to get out of or renegotiate their power purchase agreements with a variety of wind developers.   “The ruling is a blow to a slew of third-party wind, solar, geothermal and other renewables projects with supply deals owned by industry leaders such as Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Clearway Energy, Consolidated Edison, EDF, Exelon Corp., Next Era Energy and Pattern Energy.  They are likely to appeal the decision.”
    • EPA is expected to finalize its power plant carbon rule next week, according to multiple sources, completing the two-year process of replacing an Obama-era regulation with a more industry-friendly substitute. When the final Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule is released, observers expect a few substantive changes compared with last year’s proposal. But the final rule is expected to retain the same focus on individual power plants — rather than calling for big shifts in the power sector writ large….As proposed, ACE would give states three years to complete their implementation plans. The proposal gave them a menu of technologies to require of their coal plants — things like boiler feed pumps and air heater and duct leakage control devices. EPA would approve those plans. Meanwhile, environmental groups are likely to mount legal challenges at every step. “One of the big challenges here will remain how to get this through the courts successfully before the conclusion of President Trump’s first term,” Lorenzen said. “If the litigation carries over into a future administration, we could well see a repeat of what we saw with the Clean Power Plan.”
  • Researchers calculate that the electricity required for the virtual currency bitcoin generates as much carbon dioxide as a city like Las Vegas.  Stoll, who also works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the findings should prompt policymakers to consider regulating bitcoin so it uses mainly low-carbon, renewable energy.