It has been a momentous week in many ways. Seneca Wind developer, sPower, officially withdrew its application and the OPSB granted the withdrawal on August 15th. But this is not the first time this ill-fated project has been withdrawn. In a previous incarnation, Seneca Wind was owned by Exelon who filed a pre-application notice in 2016 and then withdrew in 2017. Exelon sold to sPower in 2017 and sPower filed a new application at that time. Many are wondering if history will repeat itself and sPower will sell the project to a different developer like Apex.
As proposed, the Seneca Wind project was to have a total nameplate capacity of 212 megawatts and consist of up to 77 wind turbines, access roads, electrical collector cables, laydown yards, an operations and maintenance facility, meteorological towers, a substation, and a 138-kilovolt (kV) electric generation transmission line to connect to AEP Ohio Transmission Company Inc.’s existing Melmore Substation. The OPSB entry granting the withdrawal notes in a footnote that the 138-kV transmission line will be the subject of a separate filing with the Board. Hmmm. That looks suspicious to us.
In its entry, the OPSB describes the project as consisting of approximately 56,900 acres of leased land in Seneca County, consisting primarily of existing farmland. This, to us, is another problem for the future. In defining the area, one might agree that, on an acre by acre basis, farmland is the predominant land-use compared to acreage upon which a home sits. But is it fair to describe a rural-residential area as farmland? It appears to us that the description used by OPSB without further detail, is misleading and unfair to the community whose opposed the project on the basis of population density. That would be people – not livestock.
Transmission is a key aspect that communities should not ignore. The OPSB lists two transmission projects in the pre-application stage: 19-1073-EL-BTX for Emerson Creek in Huron and Erie Counties as well as 19-1066-EL-BTX for Republic Wind in Seneca County. The Emerson Creek transmission line will be a 345 kV overhead line that will be approximately 9 miles long. The Republic Wind line is planned to be an approximately 7-8 mile line located in Seneca County, Ohio and is needed to connect the proposed Republic Wind electric generation project to the electric grid. It does not appear that public hearings on these projects have been held.
Happily, the Erie County, Groton Township Trustees submitted a Resolution to the OPSB opposing the Apex Emerson Creek project. They join Oxford Township which is also on record opposing Emerson Creek. Norwich Township has filed for intervenor status. Moreover, the Seneca County Commissioners amended their previous Resolution dissolving the Alternative Energy Zone designation and added language that includes: “The Seneca County Commissioners withdraw all previous support of the Seneca Wind, Republic Wind or any proposed wind turbine projects to the maximum extent allowed by law. Read more about this in the articles below.
Following up on our previous Wind News announcing the action of Iowa’s Madison County Environmental Health Officer declaring adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines, we include today a copy of Dr. Ben Johnson’s presentation to the county. The entire meeting was recorded and is being transcribed. We continue to follow this case but also draw your attention to an article in today’s issue entitled: Renewable energy can generate billions of dollars in health benefits, study finds. Researchers at MIT foresee a healthier Rust Belt as a result of renewables. These two points must be reconciled or at least not be allowed to be joined together and confused. We believe that some in the Ohio Senate has, to some extent, erroneously combined these issues when advocating reduced setbacks. Either that or they are saying the few should suffer for the alleged benefit of others.
According to reports we have received, Lake Erie’s LeedCo Icebreaker project attorneys have tried to bar testimony from Dr. Jeffrey Gosse who recently retired from a thirty+ year career with US Fish & Wildlife serving as our USFWS Region’s Energy Coordinator. In his testimony Gosse states “I have substantial professional experience and expertise in conducting avian radar and bat acoustic studies.” The testimony is attached and makes the point that:
“The Current Record and the Pre-Filed Testimony do not present any indication that Icebreaker has identified a specific technology that it proposes to use for pre- or postconstruction radar monitoring for birds and bats, or for post-construction collision detection for birds and bats, much less that Icebreaker has performed any validation testing of any such proposed technologies and presented the testing results to the Board. As a result, there is no basis for the Board to make findings and determinations as to the probable environmental impact of the Project on birds and bats as required by R.C. 4906.1 0(A)(2), or that the Project represents the minimum adverse environmental impact to birds and bats as required by R.C. 4906.1 0(A)(3). “
At the same time, we learn the US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it is considering Endangered Species Act protections for the lake sturgeon. “In a series of findings published in today’s Federal Register, FWS concluded that a 2018 petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity addressed clear scientific and commercial threats facing the fish, which is mainly found in the Great Lakes region. If the challenges facing the species hold up under a FWS scientific status review, the agency may propose threatened or endangered status for the massive lake sturgeon.” The article below provides more detail. This should also support opposition to building wind turbines in Lake Erie.
We also attach today a copy of a lengthy article entitled Inconvenient Energy Realities. It is a “must read” for all wind and solar warriors as well as government officials. “ Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.”