The mad rush to year-end has officially begun. Big wind accelerates its development efforts during the holidays hoping no one notices. Panic sets in as the lame duck session of the Ohio General Assembly gets underway. The declining Production Tax Credit forces some developers to reconsider the viability of some projects in the pipeline. The lobbyists and P.R. shills for the wind industry crank out more questionable reports about the ‘benefits’ of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the Champs Elysee in Paris has been in flames for eight days because Prime Minister Macron has hiked the gas tax in order to fund more renewable energy and the people are pushing back. The protests are blamed on the French urban-rural split. The elites in Paris don’t drive and don’t care if diesel fuel goes to $7 a gallon while rural people are wondering how they will be able to afford to drive to work. The contempt of the “elites” for the rural people is coming into sharp focus here in Ohio as well as in France. To the barricades!
In the Ohio Senate, President Obhof says he will appoint a new chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week. Current Vice Chair of the Committee is Sen. Kris Jordan who has always been sympathetic to the anti-wind community. Other Republicans on the Committee are Bacon, LaRose, Dolan, Gardner, Hottinger, and Hoagland. Perhaps President Obhof will name one of these. There are currently two unfilled vacancies on the Committee. The Senate has scheduled full sessions for Nov. 27 and 28th as well as December 6, 12, 13, and 19. If the Committee votes for HB 114, it would go to the floor on one of these dates.
President Obhof was reported to express his opinion that the Republican Caucus supports a setback modification. “I think there is a desire by a significant portion of our caucus to also fix or change…the setback rules for windmills,” Sen. Obhof said, adding that the caucus wants the change “to allow more development than what we’ve seen over the last few years.” Obhof does not think a stand-alone bill such as Dolan’s SB 238 is viable. “Asked whether HB114 is a lame duck priority, Sen. Obhof replied, “I think it is more important to the Senate that we get things right than that we get them done quickly.” Perhaps getting it “done right” means adding a provision to give local residents in affected townships the right to vote on projects. Sen. McColley has been working on such language for quite some time.
A new “report” entitled A Path Forward has been released by a “corporate coalition” called www.poweringohio.org and funded by the Environmental Defense Fund. This group is made up of left-wing elites and name-brand companies that stand to profit from government-forced green energy policies in the power and transportation sectors. It is a quintessentially “elite” report prepared by Synapse Energy Economics located in Cambridge, MA. The lead author was in charge of Vermont energy policy (which, until recently, had a 6,000’ setback) and another author has frequently served as an ‘expert witness’ for the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Michigan Environmental Council, and other environmental activist organizations. The report (attached) includes such statements as:
“Meanwhile, the legislature, with gubernatorial support, should remove barriers to wind investment by relaxing setback restrictions.” (page 9) and “Businesses can work with local wind and solar developers to develop on-site or in-state purchase agreements that will lower their electricity price risk and help them meet their business objectives. JobsOhio can encourage pairings by facilitating matches between expanding companies and clean energy developers, and by offering a discount on Ohio clean energy as part of its economic development incentive packages. Assistance from JobsOhio would both reduce the transactional requirements of obtaining local clean energy and provide a competitive advantage when compared to other states in the region.” (14) The emphasis is added but good heavens! This looks like a document written for failed gubernatorial candidate Cordray as opposed to a roadmap for Gov.-Elect DeWine. Now wind is looking for more taxpayer handouts through the secretive JobsOhio program. Disgusting.
The action in Seneca County is on fire as sPower’s Seneca Wind project moves forward. A local judge has filed to intervene in the case. In his letter to the OPSB, Judge Shuff states he “has important interests to protect in this proceeding,” including excessive noise, strobe-like shadow flicker, “marring of local viewsheds,” negative impacts on property values, and deaths of migratory birds, bald eagles, and bats. He adds he wants to help protect against an “unconstitutional taking of property by the applicant.” Also filing to intervene is the Black Swamp Bird Observatory represented by veteran attorney’s Jack Van Kley and Chris Walker. More information on this case can be found at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?Caseno=18-0488&link=DIVA .
Against that backdrop, Seneca County Commissioner Holly Stacy jumps into the fire in a column printed in the local paper. Saying change is inevitable and people should just accept it, Stacy goes on to thank what she thinks is the ‘silent majority’ of pro-wind supporters. Whew – pants on fire Commissioner Stacy! Constituents Chris Aichholz and Jim Feasel offer some great comments in an effort to set her straight.
To the south in Hardin County, the Hardin Wind, LLC project – also known as EverPower’s Scioto Ridge is moving forward. Rumors in the area suggest Innogy plans to build in Hardin County as well as Logan even though Logan County did not approve PILOT. On November 15th, the OPSB approved Innogy’s request (attached) to add two additional turbine models and to allow the developer to post a notice in the paper as opposed to sending a letter to residents in the footprint. More about this project can be found at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=18-1473-EL-BGA .
When EverPower sold its operating projects and its pipeline of projects to Innogy, Innogy indicated it would review each project under development to determine whether or not the project would go forward. The following Projects were identified as the “pipeline”:
· Mud Springs, MT
· New Creek Wind Project, WV
· Scioto Ridge Wind Farm, Hardin & Logan Counties, OH
· Mason Dixon Wind Project, Somerset County, PA
· Kimberly Run Wind Project, Somerset County, PA
· Buckeye II Wind Project, Champaign County, OH
· Buckeye Wind Project, Champaign County, OH
· Cassadaga Wind Project, Chautauqua County, NY
· Baron Winds Wind Project, Steuben County, NY
It is believed that Mud Springs, Scioto Ridge, Cassadaga and Baron Winds are now being addressed by Innogy. There is some uncertainty about the remaining projects. Mud Springs was mentioned in an article about a newly commissioned project in Montana. In West Virginia, two lawsuits were filed against New Creek Wind in 2017 after the plaintiffs claimed its wind turbines are noisy. Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. and Enbridge Holdings LLC were named as defendants in the suits. The status of the suits is not clear. The New York Cassadaga Project was recently approved but the New York Baron Winds project was not approved. There are a number of issues to be litigated in the Baron Winds project including the “cumulative” impact of several wind projects.
The town of Fremont, where Baron Winds is located, revised their local zoning ordinance during the state’s processing of the application under Article 10. The zoning changes are described in the attached letter and they include a requirement that turbines be turned off after a receptor has experienced 20 hours of shadow flicker; noise levels of 50dBa at residences was changed to property line and the level of noise at a structure was reduced to 40dBa at night; property line setbacks were increased from 1.1x turbine height to 1.5x and no turbine can be closer than 1,500’ from a residence.
The report on the Cassadaga project notes “The Cassadaga project was part of the 2GW portfolio of US wind developments Germany’s Innogy bought from EverPower earlier this year – and one of just three projects within the portfolio that are expected to reach completion by the end of 2020, in time to qualify for the full production tax credit.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the less credible pro-renewable groups has issued a position statement in support of nuclear energy. “The Union of Concerned Scientists supports a “proactive policy,” as Ken Kimmel puts it, to preserve existing nuclear power plants. That doesn’t diminish the need for expanded energy efficiency, solar and wind power, energy storage and grid modernization. What the report rightly recognizes is that responding to climate change gets much more difficult if it includes covering the loss of clean nuclear generation. One report concluded that for renewable energy sources, it would be the equivalent of going back 25 years.” In an Editorial, the Akron Beacon Journal hopes the General Assembly will be persuaded by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Good grief.