There will be no hearings this coming week on the setback bill, SB 238 or HB 114. As we understand it, it is likely that setbacks will be addressed by an amendment to HB 114 which has already passed the House and is undergoing hearings in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Speculation is that HB 114 will be amended and approved some time in February after which it will go to a Conference Committee of the House and Senate where the final bill will be negotiated. We will keep you posted on when hearings will be scheduled.
Our understanding at this point is that Dolan’s proposal of 1.2 x turbine height from the property line is likely to be adopted. There will be some type of local input to the siting process but we are unclear as to what it will be. Discussions underway propose a role for County Commissioners which may be subject to affirmation by a vote of electors residing in the unincorporated areas of all county townships irrespective of whether that township is hosting turbines. The wind industry rejects restricting the vote to only the impacted townships.
By adopting setbacks of 1.2x turbine height, the legislature would effectively be granting an uncompensated easement across the property of the neighboring landowner. The distance from the neighbor’s home would still be around 1,125 feet. These are unacceptable setbacks but it appears they will be adopted by people who don’t understand and will never have to live with the consequences of their actions. We understand that Senator McColley who represents the Van Wert area and Sen. Huffman, who represents Lima and Urbana are both on the side of the people. NW Ohio Senators Manning and Burke are still learning (sad but true). We have included an mail sent by Jeremy Kitson of Van Wert to Senators Manning and Burke respectfully briefing them on the issues important to people in targeted areas. Those who wish to do as Jeremy has done and write to your elected officials, we stress the importance of being respectful and to make the points about property line setbacks and local control.
Against this backdrop, the following reports were received this past week (Caution! There was a lot going on!) :
Ohio Setbacks: A Columbus Dispatch Editorial endorses reinstating renewable mandates and measuring setbacks from homes instead of property lines but recognizes there may be issues with setbacks. The Dispatch states, “Two pending bills help frame the issues. Senate Bill 238 would reverse a 2014 law change that significantly increased the setback, or distance that wind turbines must be from neighboring properties. That meant wind-farm developers couldn’t put as many turbines (and make as much money) on a given piece of property, and new wind-farm applications essentially have dried up since.” “The wind-setback bill is a more-delicate matter. Stricter setbacks came about because living very close to a wind turbine brings noise, a giant visual obstruction and other effects that many neighbors find unpleasant. Some alleged health effects haven’t been proved, but the intrusion is real, and lawmakers must consider neighbors’ concerns. But the solution can’t be to rule out an important potential power source and shut down a nascent industry, not to mention depriving Ohio landowners of the right to profit from their property. Lawmakers should look for a way to restore Ohio’s wind-energy prospects while providing reasonable protection or compensation for neighbors who are affected.”
- Conservative Energy Forum: Last week we reported on the scam poll designed to persuade legislators of great support for renewable energy and reduced setbacks. Rep. Seitz criticized the poll as phony and the Washington Examiner exposed CEF’s parent organization as a fraud. Notwithstanding, the CEF wrote an open letter to the General Assembly saying “It is unfortunate that Rep. Seitz has chosen to assert that this poll and my efforts to promote it are part of some sort of liberal plot. But I am encouraged and empowered by my fellow conservatives to continue pushing for the economic benefits that await Ohio when we embrace forward-looking clean energy policy.” If this is what they believe and support, there should be no objection to local control of turbine siting that is subject to the vote of electors in affected townships.
- Icebreaker Supporter Sarah Taylor with Windustrious in Cleveland: Writes that “Around nine hundred comments have been submitted so far. They have been eight to one in favor of the project. It is interesting to note that over half of the supportive statements come from individual union members.” It is amazing to us that these people believe they will be employed to build turbines that are routinely built by imported crews with specific expertise in wind turbine construction. More amusing is her disbelief that environmental advocates are critical of Icebreaker. “What is surprisingly ironic, when one examines the list of comments, is the absence of letters of support from some of the most well-known environmental groups. Where are positive statements from the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and so on? Aren’t they in favor of the project? In fact, some organizations have actually spoken out against it.” “What could be the reason for this failure to provide unambiguous support for a vital effort to reduce fossil-fuel emissions? Does the need to be seen as a full participant in the decision-making process override concern for the environment? The Audubon Society and the Sierra Club are very large and respected organizations. Together they have over three and a half million members, of whom the great majority are surely in favor of wind power being developed as rapidly as possible. Maybe those members can communicate with their head offices, and persuade them to recognize the growing urgency of climate change, and the need to endorse this invaluable source of clean power, unequivocally and immediately.” Good Grief…..
- Icebreaker Opponent Matt Brakey of Brakey Energy: “CPP has agreed to purchase power at a not-to-exceed price of $181.57 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for the first year the Icebreaker project is online, with a 16-year annual 1 percent price escalator. I recognize most people are not familiar with the going rate for electric power like they may be for gasoline, eggs, and coffee. Therefore, evaluating the competitiveness of the project without a point of comparison can be difficult. Power is traded on the futures market just like other commodities, so price discovery is straightforward. At the time this was written, a one-year strip of power in northern Ohio could be purchased for less than $33 per MWh. In other words, the rate CPP is contracting for is 550 percent higher than prevailing market rates!”… “But at a price premium of 550 percent, the Icebreaker project will be another economic failure for not just CPP and its customers, but also the region as a whole.” We wonder if Sarah Taylor and her Icebreaker supporters understand they could be inflicting great costs on Ohio’s manufacturers?
- Left-Wing Environmental Defense Fund Pushes Fake News in Support of Ohio Mandates: A spokesperson for the EDF advocates for renewable energy mandates in Ohio and claims Amazon will not choose to establish its second headquarters in the state if we do not have a mandate. Ohio’s wind resources are inferior and more expensive than wind obtained from outside Ohio. Current law provides energy choice and if Amazon wanted to sources 100% renewable power, they could do it today without mandates. EDF also claims that “Ohio is now home to more than 100,000 clean energy jobs, and three out of four clean energy workers in the Midwest work in energy efficiency, the region’s largest clean energy industry. Ohio also leads the Midwest in clean energy manufacturing jobs.” EDF and the wind industry can’t both be right. Wind claims that it will create jobs in Ohio but we know there are very few permanent jobs created after construction. EDF appears to confirm that.
- Candidate for Governor Kucinich wants to stop Drilling: “Ohio gubernatorial candidate Dennis Kucinich on Thursday said that as governor, he would attempt to stop all current and future oil and gas drilling in Ohio. Asked whether his proposals were unrealistic given that Republicans dominate the state legislature, Kucinich said he has a history of working with conservatives when he served in the state Senate.
- “If the governor can’t take a stand for the health and safety of this state, then why even run?” he asked. Kucinich said he would work to ensure that landowners who have leased land for drilling would receive a separation fee and all royalties they are due. As for the jobs that would be lost from the end of Ohio’s oil and gas industry, Kucinich said Ohio would be in a position to “catch a wave” of alternative-energy development.” We wonder if Kucinich has a position on protecting the health of those who live near wind turbines?