Wind News – Flipping for Facebook

Let the games begin.  As we approach the end of January, 2021, Sen. Romanchuk has introduced Senate Bill 10 to address certain provisions in HB 6 that are believed to present a risk of inflated costs for consumers.  Romanchuk was quoted as saying, “”I’m trying to protect the consumer and bring balance between the consumers and the utility.”   How about some balance between the community and the developer?   SB 10 is characterized as a first step and will be followed by additional proposals to modify Ohio’s energy policies.

Another proposal comes from the Ohio Power Siting Board in the state’s upcoming budget. OPSB is requesting spending authority for $63.23 million (+4.9%) in Fiscal Year 2022 and $63.42 million (+0.3%) in FY 2023.  The Acting Chairman, Beth Trombold justifies the request saying  “The OPSB has seen a significant increase in applications for new generation and transmission projects, and anticipates a continued influx of applications,” Ms. Trombold wrote. “The budget proposal accounts for this increase in terms of staffing and flexibility to retain outside expertise when needed.”     The influx of projects are renewable energy – wind and solar.   As pushback from communities continues, OPSB is being held to account for improved analysis of a range of concerns from hydrology issues to environmental impacts on wildlife and habitat.  We think OPSB could save money by just supporting local governments and giving them the power to reject unsuitable and unwanted projects.

We were absolutely astonished to read the announcement that Invenergy’s Hardin Solar was sold to Dominion Energy before construction on the project even started.   Dominion already had a contract in place to sell both power and renewable energy credits to Facebook.   ““With this solar project, Dominion Energy is expanding our solar generating portfolio into Ohio, where we have a deep history of serving our customers and communities through our local distribution business,” Diane Leopold, executive vice president of Dominion Energy and COO, said. “We continue to acquire and/or develop clean energy projects for companies like Facebook that are looking to reduce their carbon footprints and to contribute to combating climate change. And we are proud to build on our Invenergy partnership that has already produced nearly 100 megawatts of solar generating capacity elsewhere.”    Wow.  Think about that.

The flipping has begun.   The grant of PILOT to “Invenergy” was really a subsidy to Dominion to reduce the cost of power to social media giant Facebook.   Do the folks in Hardin County feel proud to have given up local tax revenue to make Mark Zuckerberg richer and better able to control the free speech of rural Americans?    THINK ABOUT IT.    What is shocking to us is that this agreement was likely unknown to any citizens in Hardin County. Did OPSB know?   Clearly Dominion Energy plans to do more in other Ohio counties.

Speaking of things to think about,  we have attached a list of issues compiled by a friend who is studying utility solar.  The issues described in the document may be items a community should consider.    We are not endorsing or supporting anything in this document but wanted to share it as a guide to the kinds of things a community or local residents might want to inquire about.  A “muddy mess” is how surface groundwater drainage is described.  We encourage everyone to read this.

OPSB approved Madison Fields Solar Project – This is a 180 megawatt solar-powered generating facility in Pike Township, Madison County.  The Madison Fields Solar Project will occupy approximately 1,000 acres within a 1,932-acre project area near the community of Rosedale. The project will consist of large arrays of ground-mounted photovoltaic modules, commonly referred to as solar panels, mounted on a tracking system that will rotate to track the sun. The project will include associated facilities such as access roads, meteorological stations, electric collection lines, inverters and transformers, a substation, a 138 kV gen-tie line, a point of interconnection switchyard, and an operations and maintenance building.   Yikes – that is a lot of associated infrastructure.

Highland County’s New Market Solar I & II – OPSB held a hearing on this 100 MW facility which will be built on 1,000 acres of land in southeastern Highland County in Whiteoak and Clay townships. Hecate Energy, a Chicago-based company is moving through the OPSB process in obtaining the necessary licensure to build and operate the photovoltaic facility, in addition to the 300-megawatt Highland solar project slated to be built on 3,500 acres between Buford and just north of Mowrystown. Centerville resident Dale Davidson, who offered testimony against the project on behalf of the Davidson property trust, said that his family owned adjoining property to the project that had been in the family for four generations, and that he was concerned about seeing farmland disappear, remarking that “farmland is in short supply.”  “The project changes the landscape of the agricultural and rural heritage of the area,” he said. “It basically, for all intents and purposes, changes it into commercial use for our lifetime and generations to come, and probably permanently.”

Apex plans solar facility in Wyandot County near Seneca County line – In typical “sales-speak” or “dupe the public” hype,  Apex describes Tymochtee Solar as “a new source of economic development, including long-term local and state tax revenue for schools, government services, and public infrastructure. The power from Tymochtee Solar Solar will be delivered into the local Ohio electrical grid, helping to diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio. Solar power is one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity available today, and its ability to generate power at peak times helps reduce electricity costs for all consumers.  In addition to the jobs directly and indirectly created during construction and operation of Tymochtee Solar, this project also creates opportunities for companies with renewable energy goals to expand into Wyandot County and open new locations adjacent to renewable power.“  Revolting.    A link below will take you to the Tymochtee website.  Read it and weep.

Fayette County Board of Zoning Appeals Considers 475 MW project – Perry Township would be the location for National Grid Renewables’s proposed solar array. Fayette County Zoning Official Greg McCune explained the farm would be located on 435 acres. The acres proposed for the solar farm are currently taxed as agricultural land, according to Fayette County commissioner Jim Garland.  This project falls below the 50 MW size which triggers OPSB regulation.  Can there really be a justification for local control under 50MW but total disregard for locals above 50MW?