Webmaster’s note: The following article appeared originally in Gongwer Ohio News Service, July 15th, 2016. As you read this story, you will notice how wind developers and the “powers that be” embrace the one tactic they love to use over and over again when dealing with resistance to the erection of proposed industrial wind turbines into a community. Unfortunately (and usually inadvertently) entire communities themselves provide the “ammo” used against them in these scenarios. What is the ammo you ask?
The ammo is this…if you choose to be silent and do not get involved in the earliest stages of the wind turbine invasion, then know that at whatever point you should decide to become involved, your initial inactivity will always be used against you! Wind developers, OPSB, & the Ohio Supreme Court love to use your initial silence as a club to continually beat down every later legitimate effort to bring concerns and accountability into the mix.
Greenwich Neighbors United has known the realities of this “ammo” being used time after time in our pursuit to protect our community from the onslaught of the greedy, unscrupulous boondoggle of wind energy. Please, after you read the article and you know of an impending industrial wind facility is to be built over your county, near your homes…do not remain silent! Choose early to become involved, the earlier the better! We (GNU) are more than willing to share our story and experience with you. Knowledge is power, and knowledge acted upon early is even more powerful! You can contact us by email, simply click on the “contact us” button at the top of the menu.
Reflective of an ongoing policy debate regarding alternative energy development in the state, the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday fielded oral arguments in a wind farm case pitting county officials against the Power Siting Board. Champaign County alleges that the state regulatory panel’s approval of three amendments to a proposed wind farm’s operating certificate without a hearing was improper because the changes amount to a material increase in the environmental impact of the facility. “The county and townships are collectively concerned with the Ohio Power Siting Board’s failure to hold necessary hearings or to establish or modify conditions which are commonplace in more recent cases and relevant to the amendment proposed,” said Jane Napier, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Champaign County. The state and the company developing the facility ague otherwise, saying the county forfeited its right to appeal because it did not raise any of its stated claims before or during another hearing.
The debate harkens to state and local hearings on the subject, which often pits business and government interests against property owners. Ms. Napier argued that Buckeye Wind’s construction staging location, the burial of transmission lines and alterations made to roadways in the area could have a negative impact and should be subject to a hearing. Justice French, however, questioned whether the county raised any objections to the scope of a 2014 evidentiary hearing on the matter. Ms. Napier said local residents did raise objections, but the county did not. “They were exactly the same objections we would have made,” she said. Justice French then indicated the failure to raise those objections could be a problem for the county’s case. “Isn’t that a problem for you to say, ‘That’s what we would have done, but we didn’t?'” she asked. “So doesn’t that mean that the county has forfeited, if not waived, an objection.” Ms. Napier disagreed with that assessment. But Werner Margard, counsel for the attorney general’s office, furthered that argument. “I think it’s significant to note, as you have noted, that the appellants had numerous opportunities to be able to raise this issue and either refused or failed to do so until after the board issued its order in this case,” he said.
The county argued that combining two construction staging areas into one creates an environmental impact. However, Mr. Margard said the two staging areas were already on the same parcel of land. “We now just have one footprint of a staging area remaining,” he said. Buckeye Wind, in a filing with the court, argued that the county forfeited its right to appeal and did not present the court with any factual evidence to back its claims. It also argued that the board’s orders were reasonably and lawfully supported by the record evidence. “The record is replete with ample evidence that the three amendments were an indisputable improvement in the project that reduced its scope and impact and that will not result in a material environmental impact or a substantial change in all or a portion of the facility,” the company wrote in a merit brief as an intervening appellee. The county also raised the issue of the buried utility lines. But Justice Paul Pfeifer said he views that as a positive change. “It seems to me that this is a positive move and I would hope the Power Siting Board is nudging and pushing for that kind of infrastructure in the future,” he said. Buckeye Wind in 2010 became Ohio’s first wind-powered generation facility to receive a construction certificate from the Power Siting Board. –