Negotiations continue in the Ohio General Assembly on both renewable mandates and the repeal of wind setback measurement from property lines.
At the Ohio Power Siting Board, numerous comments were submitted by both wind developers and citizens concerning the current process for waiving setbacks. The law very clearly states that all property owners adjacent to the wind farm property must agree to any setback waiver. The wind industry believes this should be interpreted as the one non-participating landowner closest to the one non-conforming turbine. But that interpretation is not consistent with the law. Readers can go to the OPSB website at http://dis.puc.state.oh.us/CaseRecord.aspx?CaseNo=16-1109 to read the comment submissions. We have attached the comments of MAREC (Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition). Other comments from Greenwich Neighbors United and Union Neighbors United can be found at the website as well comments from the Blackfork developer. OPSB will consider the comments and will issue a final rule which must then be approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).
Speaking of Rules, not only must JCARR sign off on rules from the OPSB but proposals must also go through a review in the Governor’s Office pursuant to the “Common Sense Initiative” (CSI). This process is designed to prevent regulations from being too burdensome on the entity being regulated. One of the questions asked by the CSI is what scientific information was considered in developing the rule. We understand that with respect to wind turbine siting rules, the OPSB has indicated they did not consider any science. In the last two issues of Wind News, we have discussed the studies and work of the Acoustical Society of America. Your legislators should be made aware that the Chairman Emeritus of the ASA has called for at least 3,300 foot setbacks. Moreover, the ASA rejects the use of dBA to measure noise from industrial wind turbines. The OPSB uses dBA. They should be challenged on this point, as well.
We have previously discussed the phony poll issued by the phony Conservative Energy Forum. Rep. Seitz called this poll “AstroTurf At Work”. A consultant for CEF wrote an Op-Ed for the Columbus Dispatch and then the wind lobbyist, Dayna Baird, sent out the word to wind developers, enviros and greens to “amplify” the message on social media. Seitz caught them in the act of this campaign and called them out in an email to legislators and the Governor’s Office saying:
“If ever anyone doubted that the so-called Conservative Energy Forum is really just a shill for Big Wind, the enclosed ought to prove it beyond cavil. As you can clearly see, Mr. Hartley published an op-ed in the February 5 Columbus Dispatch. Moments later, the Big Wind lobbyists were activated to “amplify via social media”, and conveniently, they even were given sample social media responses to post on whatever passes for social media these days. I do not retreat from my contention that the Conservative Energy Forum is an AstroTurf group, however well-intentioned, but no one should be misled into thinking that they are anything other than a shill for Big Wind.”
The mail sent by Dayna Baird is attached and the recipient list should be examined by all Wind News readers to see who in your community may have received it.
In criticizing polls and surveys about community support for industrial wind, we have pointed out that the sample geographic area is usually so large that it obscures the impacts and attitudes of people living in close proximity to wind turbines. Tom Stacy has provided an analysis that may be helpful in understanding this ‘survey sleight of hand’. Tom’s analysis is set out below and concludes that “ALL of the 11% of respondents living in the nuisance and safety zone view them negatively, except those being paid to host the machines.” This contrasts with the CEF assertion that 76% support reduction of setbacks or, as in the previously reported NREL study, 92% view industrial wind positively. (see Wind News 1-31-18)
Another piece of astonishing news was received this week but has not yet been verified. It should raise real concerns. It has been observed through County Recorder data that some parcels of land have been cut from a larger tract which is under lease. In instances where the leaseholder sold off a parcel of land to a buyer wishing to build, banks appear to be unwilling to make construction loans. We have seen some split-off parcels that have been removed from the contract with the developer. It is useful to remember that if a split-off parcel is eventually the site of a residence, the owner of the newly built residence will not be bound by the gag orders placed on the leaseholder/seller.
In other news:
- AWEA attacks Seitz for language in the OPSB proposed rule requiring all adjacent non-participating landowners to sign off setback waivers. “On Friday, the group singled out Seitz in a news release about a proposed rule change before the Power Siting Board in which Seitz supports a position that would be “a death sentence for wind energy,” the group said. “The wind energy lobby is desperate to make me their boogeyman, but there are far more people than me that insist on proper protection,” Seitz said by email, referring to people who own land next to proposed wind farms.”
- Renewable mandates continue to be opposed by Rep. Seitz who sends to his colleagues in the legislature a letter from an electricity provider offering to source power from whatever generation source the customer wants. Says Seitz: “I recently received the enclosed solicitation from Clean Choice Energy promising that if I switched to them I would “have the electricity for the Seitz home sourced from 100% renewable sources.” Here, then, is tangible proof of what we in the House have been saying all along: because Ohio is a customer choice state, renewable energy mandates are unnecessary. Those who will jump on the renewable energy bandwagon – be they “conservatives” or “liberals” — can do so whenever their spirit moves them. For my part, having installed solar rooftop panels on my home last year for a net cost of over $11,000 (net of the 30% federal tax credit), I don’t know why I should be compelled to pay renewable energy riders on my bill. As the old saying goes, “I gave at the office.”
- State Senator Robert McColley is reaching out to his constituents in an effort to devise compromise language on setbacks. During a meeting in Putnam County, Sen. McColley stated that: “So that’s the rub in all of this,” “We need to come up with something that reflects actual, local desire to do this. Which is why I’ve been trying to make a comparison here that this is more of a zoning issue than anything. Because you’re changing, not only the use of the property that will participate, but you’re also changing the potential use for properties that are not participating.” “You may or may not [build], but that’s your property. If somebody is taking away the potential possible development and possible future value of your property, that’s what zoning laws are made for. They’re made to not only protect from unintended use in a zoning area, but they’re also meant to protect from one neighbor’s use or one landowner’s use encroaching upon another landowner’s quiet use and enjoyment of their own property.” It is well established that in zoning, all ordinances are subject to local referendum. To the extent that wind siting rules are zoning, any legislation to establish setbacks should be subject to a vote of the local township voters. Amazingly, the American Wind Industry Association (AWEA) fires back: “Though a seemingly reasonable position, but not everyone agrees, as pointed out by Andrew Gohn with the American Wind Energy Association. “We appreciate State Sen. McColley’s attention to resolving the current unworkable wind farm setback structure,” says Gohn. “Unfortunately, this proposal to expand local control championed by long-time wind opponent State Rep. Seitz would strip property rights away from individuals by subjecting private land use decisions to community referendum.” We think AWEA should take the word “American” out of their name. Maybe Soviet Wind Industry Association is a better descriptor.
- It was a busy week for “A”WEA which went on to issue a press release opposing the draft OPSB rule on setback waivers. “It is no understatement to suggest that if Ohio adopts this rule, the regulatory chaos over how many waivers are required and ‘from whom’ will cause the capital markets to close the door on Ohio development. This would be true even if the General Assembly reduces the onerous setback requirement in current law..” So now AWEA is saying that even if they get their way with reducing setbacks, the requirement that all neighboring landowners must sign off on setback waivers is a killer of wind in Ohio. They are a broken record! No PILOT will kill wind! Property line setbacks will kill wind! Setback waiver requirements will kill wind! What’s next?
- Nationwide Insurance has announced that it will invest in 300 MW of solar energy projects around the country. Perhaps they should be congratulated for supporting solar rather than wind.
- Amazon testifies in the Ohio General Assembly that they want to source their renewable energy in-state and support reducing setbacks from property lines in the Ohio “Wind Corridor” only. THAT’S YOU!
- Siemens announces layoffs of 6,900 jobs of which 400 of the job cuts are in Knox County. The cuts “come as demand has declined from power companies for the gas turbines that Siemens manufactures, Morningstar analyst Jeffrey Vonk wrote in a note to investors last month. He mentioned the surge in solar and wind energy. “Siemens missed the bus on land-based wind energy,” Vonk said. “We expect market demand to continue declining, to 110 turbines annually during 2018-20 from 122 in 2017, with corresponding price pressure due to overcapacity.” There is no way that wind development can replace the jobs lost at companies like Siemens and the thought of NW Ohioans subsidizing the loss of jobs in other Ohio towns is repugnant.
- The Ohio State University has joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, an alliance of 13 leading research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve climate goals.
- Icebreaker suffered a setback when “an administrative law judge has declined to issue an expedited procedural schedule for a proposed off-shore wind farm due to the project’s “precedent-setting” nature. Parties instead must now submit motions weighing in on what that timetable should look like. The decision follows a request from Icebreaker Windpower last month in which the company filed new documents and urged the Ohio Power Siting Board to adopt a faster timetable for considering the proposal. The project entails six turbines to be located off the coast of Cleveland in what would be the nation’s first freshwater windfarm. “