Neighbors appeal state decision on Champaign County turbines

A group of residents opposed to a proposed wind farm in Champaign County have appealed a recent state decision to grant an extension for the first phase of the project.

Attorneys for Union Neighbors United argued Ohio’s Power Siting Board should re-hear the case, because they argue the board didn’t follow its own procedures to grant the extension. The decision was important for the wind farm because the certificate to build the project’s first phase was scheduled to expire in March next year but construction hasn’t started.

If the extension was turned down, Everpower, the company in charge of the project, would likely have had to start over the lengthy certification process. The project is split into two phases and includes a total of about 100 turbines spread through six townships in Champaign County.

But officials at Everpower said the siting board followed the rules, and treated the wind farm the same way it has other similar projects.

“The fact of the matter is there is a process in place and we followed it,” said Jason Dagger, a spokesman for Everpower.

In their request for re-hearing, attorneys for UNU argued Everpower should have been required to file a request to amend the certificate, a more lengthy process that would have allowed for public comment and testimony. The request also argued the siting board lacks the authority to approve the extension through a motion submitted to the board.

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Paulding County wind farms delayed by lack of financing

Two proposed wind farms in Paulding County have not been built because the company proposing them is unable to enter into a long-term agreement to support their financing. But with upcoming coal plant retirements, that could change, attorneys for a subsidiary of EDP Renewables told the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Those changes mean the Timber Road I and III projects, a combined 60 turbines and 100 megawatts, should be granted three-year extensions, the company said in recent filings.

“Although market forces have hindered the project’s development, the electric generation market has experienced other changes recently (several coal plants are expected to retire in the near term), and generation capacity is anticipated to be needed for Ohio and the region,” an attorney for the company told regulators.

Both wind farms would be adjacent to the existing 55-turbine, 99-megawatt Timber Road II wind farm built in Paulding County in 2011. It’s the first commercial wind farm built in the state.

The extension proposals come on the heels of two three-year extensions granted to Ohio wind projects last month. Those farms, also in northwestern Ohio, cited similar market forces in their requests.


Delphos man speaks out on wind farms

$1.77 billion – This is how many American tax dollars Iberdrola has received under Section 1603 of the Recovery Act. President Obama claimed that the act would help get Americans back to work. However, a 2013 congressional report compared the tax dollars that companies, like Iberdrola, received to the jobs created. The report concluded:

This investigation demonstrates that the Section 1603 grant program failed to meet this goal. Billions of dollars have filled the coffers of overseas firms while the evidence of the promised permanent jobs and economic growth here in the United States is scarce. The modest job creation figures attributed to Section 1603 have come at an enormous cost when federal deficits are being financed with trillions of dollars in borrowing. Despite its being billed as a “jobs program,” actual figures detailing permanent jobs created by the grant program are difficult to find, with some experts putting the price per job at $1.2 million. In some cases, it is unclear whether the program actually stimulated development in the renewable energy sector or simply subsidized projects that the private sector would have come around to on its own. And it is startling to discover that nearly one quarter of the $16 billion approved in renewable energy projects under Section 1603 as of December 2012 have gone to subsidiaries of some of the largest, and already best-situated, foreign energy companies.

A Washington Free Beacon article referred to the tax dollars given to companies like Iberdrola as “corporate welfare.” I agree with this assertion given the fact that the wind energy industry has grown dependent upon the American Tax Payer for its very existence. The history of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) has proven this.

This is why we must contact our Van Wert County Commissioners at (419) 238-6159 and request that they vote no on tax abatements (in lieu of property taxes) for the proposed Dog Creek Wind Farm. Iberdrola has received enough of our tax dollars and its time they start paying their fair share.

Mark A. Wilson



Lee County, IL settles with couple over wind farm

Lee County residents Margina and Larry Schwartzbach say the county failed to notify them of a wind farm going up in their neighborhood.

The county never denied it.

In September, the county settled a lawsuit filed by the Schwartzbachs, giving the couple $5,000.

According to online court records, the Schwartzbachs also settled with Goldwind USA, the wind farm’s owner, and Mainstream Renewable Power, the previous owner.

The Shady Oaks wind project started operating in June 2012 in southern Lee County, near the villages of Compton and West Brooklyn. Goldwind is the subsidiary of a Chinese company.

Under open government laws, the county could not keep the settlement amount secret. Private companies have no such requirement.

Matt Klahn, a Lee County assistant state’s attorney, said the county gives wind farm companies the addresses of those who must receive notices about proposed projects, while the firms mailing them out.

With the Goldwind wind farm, four permits were involved, so the process became complicated, Klahn said.

As for the lack of notice, he said, it was an “honest mistake.”

“There were multiple people who missed it. You can’t pin this on one person,” Klahn said. “We appreciated working with the Schwartzbachs. They are nice people.”

The county’s insurance carrier covered the attorney’s fees and mediation costs, Klahn said. Because of the deductible, he said, the $5,000 was paid out of the county’s general fund.

In 2012, Margina Schwartzbach spoke during a county zoning board meeting, at which the panel was considering another wind farm. She said Goldwind project had disrupted their lives.

A turbine near her house, she said, was a constant bother.

“It’s very annoying,” she told the board. “It produces loud humming sounds.”

At night, she said, it was unbearable.

“We turn on the TV to drown it out, so we can fall asleep,” Schwartzbach said. “We don’t hear the crickets at night or birds in the morning.”

The Schwartzbachs said they found out about the wind farm when construction started in October 2011. The one turbine is 1,400 feet to the west of their home, the minimum distance the county allows.

Last year, Sauk Valley Media filed a public records request for any documents that showed the couple had received notice about the wind farm petition. The county produced nothing.

In their lawsuit, the Schwartzbachs asked the court to decommission the offending turbines and to award them damages of more than $50,000.

They filed the lawsuit without a lawyer, but by the end, they were represented by Rodney Kimes, a Beloit attorney. Neither Kimes nor the Schwartzbachs could be reached for comment.

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Deadly blades: US offers 30-year permits for killing eagles under plan to boost wind industry

WASHINGTON — Under pressure from the wind-power industry, the Obama administration said Friday it will allow companies to kill or injure eagles without the fear of prosecution for up to three decades.

The new rule is designed to address environmental consequences that stand in the way of the nation’s wind energy rush: the dozens of bald and golden eagles being killed each year by the giant, spinning blades of wind turbines.

An investigation by The Associated Press earlier this year documented the illegal killing of eagles around wind farms, the Obama administration’s reluctance to prosecute such cases and its willingness to help keep the scope of the eagle deaths secret. President Barack Obama has championed the pollution-free energy, nearly doubling America’s wind power in his first term as a way to tackle global warming.

But all energy has costs, and the administration has been forced to accept the not-so-green sides of green energy as a means to an end.

Another AP investigation recently showed that corn-based ethanol blended into the nation’s gasoline has proven more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and worse than the government acknowledges.

These examples highlight Obama’s willingness to accept environmental trade-offs — pollution, loss of conservation land and the deaths of eagles — in hopes that green energy will help fight climate change.

The new rule will provide legal protection for the lifespan of wind farms and other projects if companies obtain permits and make efforts to avoid killing protected birds.

Companies would have to take additional measures if they killed or injured more eagles than they had estimated they would, or if new information suggested that eagle populations were being affected. The permits would be reviewed every five years, and companies would have to submit reports of how many eagles they killed. Now, such reporting is voluntary, and the Interior Department refuses to release the information.

“This is not a program to kill eagles,” said John Anderson, the director of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association. “This permit program is about conservation.”

But conservation groups, which have been aligned with the industry on other issues, said the decision by the Interior Department sanctions the killing of an American icon.

“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold in a statement. The group said it would challenge the decision.

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds of up to 170 mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Flying eagles behave somewhat like drivers texting on cellphones; they don’t look up. As they scan below for food, they don’t notice the blades until it is too late.

Until now, no wind energy company has obtained permission authorizing the killing, injuring or harassment of eagles, although five-year permits have been available since 2009. That has put the companies at legal risk and has discouraged private investment in renewable energy.

It also hasn’t helped eagles since, without permits, companies are not required to take steps to reduce their impact on the birds or report when they are killed.

The new rule makes clear that revoking a permit — which could undermine investments and interest in wind power — is a last resort under the administration’s energy policy.

“We anticipate that implementing additional mitigation measures … will reduce the likelihood of amendments to, or revocation of, the permit,” the rule says.

The wind energy industry has said the change mirrors permits already in place for endangered species, which are more at risk than bald and golden eagles. Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007 but are still protected under two federal laws.

The regulation published Friday was not subjected to a full environmental review because the administration classified it as an administrative change.

“The federal government didn’t study the impacts of this rule change even though the (law) requires it,” said Kelly Fuller, who formerly headed the wind campaign at the American Bird Conservancy. “Instead, the feds have decided to break the law and use eagles as lab rats.”

However, the Fish and Wildlife Service said the new rule will enable it to better monitor the long-term environmental effects of renewable energy projects.

“Our goal is to ensure that the wind industry sites and operates projects in ways that best minimize and avoid impacts to eagles and other wildlife,” the agency said in a statement.

Last month, Duke Energy Corp. pleaded guilty to killing eagles and other birds at two wind farms in Wyoming, the first time a wind energy company had been prosecuted under a law protecting migratory birds.

A study by federal biologists in September found that wind farms since 2008 had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles, a number that the researchers said was likely underestimated. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year.

It’s unclear what toll, if any, wind energy companies are having on eagle populations locally or regionally. Gunshots, electrocutions and poisonings almost certainly kill more bald and golden eagles than wind farms. But the toll could grow along with the industry.

A recent assessment of the status of the golden eagle in the western U.S. showed that populations have been decreasing in some areas but rising in others.


Town agrees to reduce operating hours of turbines; Issue far from over as final settlement still must be reached

Falmouth’s wind turbines will return to their 12hour operation following an agreement reached between neighbors and town officials in Barnstable Superior Court yesterday.

The agreement is tied to Neil P. and Elizabeth Andersen’s claim that the town’s wind turbines constitute a nuisance, which was affirmed by the Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals in May. The town has since contested that appeals board decision in superior court with initial proceedings held in September and an ensuing one held last month.

Prior to yesterday’s hearing, Falmouth selectmen had decided in a 32 vote to increase the operation of the turbines from their 7 AM to 7 PM model to one in which the machines would be operating from 5 AM to 9 PM as a way to generate enough revenue to cover the town’s expenses.

But that changed yesterday when Barnstable Superior Court Judge Christopher J. Muse directed both parties to engage in discussions to determine if there was any agreement on a temporary plan of operation of the turbines while the two sides work toward a final settlement.

Town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. and selectman Rebecca Moffitt, representing the town, came to an agreement with the Andersens’ attorney, J. Alexander Watt of Barnstable, and Christopher Senie of Westboro, who is representing several neighbors as parties in the case.

As part of the agreement, the town will also direct building commissioner Eladio R. Gore to devise a plan to eliminate the nuisance. The first step in that plan will be to begin acoustic testing in a variety of conditions, with one turbine running and both running at various times.

J. Malcolm Donald of Blacksmith Shop Road, a vocal opponent of the turbines who attended yesterday’s hearing, lauded the temporary agreement. “I think it was earth shattering that the parties finally, after more than three years of disagreement, actually sat down and talked,” he said. “I think it is kind of a stroke of genius of the judge. This is economical judicial action.”

While progress has been made toward a final resolution, Mr. Senie said nothing has truly been settled. “There really isn’t any agreement that has been reached. There’s been a consensus that we should take a look at a possible global settlement of [four] different pieces of litigation. We have a long road to travel to get there,” he said.

Those four lawsuits, he said, include yesterday’s as well as two separate nuisance claims against the town, one brought forward by the Andersens and another by his clients, who live near the wind turbines. The fourth lawsuit is an appeal of Barnstable Superior Court Judge Robert C. Rufo’s decision in June that Mr. Gore did not need a special permit from the appeals board to erect Wind 1, which became operational in March 2010.

In order to reach a final settlement, Mr. Duffy wrote in an email this morning that the neighbors will have to submit a list of proposed actions to the town that they believe will end all outstanding zoning and nuisance claims. That list will be discussed by selectmen once Town Meeting concludes next week.

Both parties will report on the status of negotiations to Judge Muse by Thursday, November 21.

“We are still at the very beginning stages,” Mr. Senie said. “Judge Muse did a great job to begin to shape a global settlement,” he said. “The town agreed to go back to the 12hour operational period from 7 AM to 7 PM and we appreciate that very much as an interim measure. We’re glad to have that while we have real discussions about a final and formal settlement.”

Whether an agreement can be reached, he was unsure, although he was pleased to see the direction negotiations are heading in. “I think we arrived at a new moment yesterday,” he said. “It is positive and constructive. I don’t know if it will prevail. We have an awful lot of people who have to agree on an awful lot of items. I’m not sure what will happen, but everyone is sincere about this.”

Large Wind Farms Increase Temperatures Near Ground

Large wind farms slightly increase temperatures near the ground as the turbines’ rotor blades pull down warm air, according to researchers who analyzed nine years of satellite readings around four of the world’s biggest wind farms.

The study showed for the first time that wind farms of a certain scale, while producing clean, renewable energy, do have some long-term effect on the immediate environment.


US Mainstream to cancel their projects in Auglaize and Shelby Counties

US Mainstream has decided to cancel their Ohio projects in Auglaize and Shelby Counties, stopping lease payments and releasing their recorded leases. Attached here is a copy of the letter Mainstream sent to farmers who signed leases. A similar letter was sent to Shelby County. The 12,000 acres is combined, as they had leased 5,200 acres in Auglaize County and 6,800 in Shelby County.

I want to thank the many people who made this possible. We will discuss the future of the group more at length at our upcoming June 22 meeting.

As we enjoy the success of our efforts let us remember it would not have been possible without one another and our neighbors who were willing to listen. We must also remember the farmers who signed leases remain our neighbors. We were able to present out viewpoint in a civil manner and educate the public about our ideas. Let us be mindful to be gracious and respectful of the ideas of others with this good news and our success.

Allen County starts fight against Industrial Wind Turbines

Why are we here? Concerned citizens from Ohio want you to Get the Facts about wind energy turbines before it is too late and our neighbors sign long-term leases with foreign companies. These industrial machines may not only impair your quality of life, but may significantly reduce your property value and, later, increase your taxes and electricity rates. We hope to challenge what you believe to be true about this industry by exposing truths.

Why should you be concerned? Are you aware that BP Wind Energy North America has plans to blanket the entire remainder of southern Van Wert county? We have seen the leases plotted out on maps. You can look up leases too, by going to and inserting “BP Wind North America”. This proposed wind farm would also include a handful of leases in Mercer county and push, almost to the edge of Allen County, west of Spencerville. 4 landowners in Spencer township, Allen county, have signed leases, which could be either for the transmission line or the wind farm. BP Wind Energy also proposes to run a transmission line from Van Wert to Allen counties, through Spencerville, along the Spencerville-Elgin Railroad. This transmission line could have towers approximately 300 feet tall (telephone poll is approximately 30 feet) and be placed every 1000 feet. If the transmission line is approved, Allen county could become a fertile ground for planting more turbines.

But, BP is not the only developer in our area. Delphos is currently being targeted by Heartland Wind, LLC (of Iberdrola) who has applied to the Ohio Power Siting Board for permission to build the Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding counties. Multiple farmers have leased ground in Washington township (bordering Delphos), including near the beautiful golf course. Needless to say, multiple homeowners are not pleased. These leases are also visible utilizing the link above and searching for “Heartland Wind”. This company is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, one of the world’ leading turbine manufacturers, based in Spain. Click here to read about the Spanish Green disaster

If you still need convincing that our area is at risk, visit the Ohio Power Siting Board website and review the preapplication and pending cases. Once land owners have leased enough land to developers, the company then submits an application to the OPSB. Our legislature gives complete control for approval/rejection to this governing body. You should find it interesting that zero wind applications have been rejected since its inception.

Our coalition of citizens are not opposed to truly clean energy. Wind is not the answer. Wind turbines do not reduce our dependence on foreign oil because we only produce a fraction of our energy from oil. Most of it is produced by gas, coal and nuclear. Wind turbines actually increase our dependence on fossil fuels because they must always be backed up, in the fraction of a second, when the winds drop below a certain speed or cease to blow. This causes our fossil fuel plants to constantly “cycle”, something they were not designed to do. Not only are these conditions hard on the facilities, but it increases their emissions; therefore, any negative environmental effects of wind turbines are additive to fossil fuels. And, there are plenty of negative environmental effects. Search our website and you will learn of Asian Neodymium mining, noise, low frequency infrasound…and this does not include the tens of thousands of birds, including Eagles, and bats that are slaughtered by the industrial machines. As Pastor Jay Dennis states in Wind Power Mirages, “Telling the truth is a basic moral principle. So is being a good steward of the Earth and its resources, by considering all the facts, the environmental impacts, and the harm to jobs and families from needlessly unreliable and expensive energy. America can’t afford to shut down the fossil fuels that make our jobs and living standards possible- or slap huge new climate change taxes on them- before we have a real alternative to replace them, not just mirages.”

Why the US wind boom is going bust

Is the US wind boom over? It certainly looks that way. Wind energy installations plunged 80% in the first quarter to 384 megawatts (MW) from a year ago. That’s the lowest level in seven years and a massive drop from the record 13,329 MW that came online in the fourth quarter, according to a report from energy research firm SNL.

The crash reflects the whiplash plaguing the industry after the US Congress let a crucial renewable energy incentive expire at the end of 2012. Wind companies rushed to bring as many turbines online by the end of the year as possible so they could qualify for the production tax credit, which pays 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by wind farms during their first decade of operation.

Congress resurrected the tax credit in January for another year, but it was too little too late. The industry had already begun to lay off workers and scale back manufacturing capacity. And don’t expect wind companies to go on a building spree this year, now that the tax credit has been restored. Its latest version only mandates that developers merely break ground in 2013 on projects, rather than complete them in the calendar year, as previously was required.

Utilities in big wind states like California are also beginning to meet government mandates to obtain a certain percentage of the electricity they sell from renewable sources. (California, for instance, requires utilities to meet a 33% renewable energy target.) The shale gas boom, which resulted in a glut of cheap natural gas, isn’t helping the windmaker’s cause. For instance, wind developer EDF Renewables, has not broken ground one of its long-planned big wind projects in California’s Tehachapi region because it has yet to find a buyer for the electricity generated.

And yet, despite the troubles in wind, the solar boom continues. Solar projects qualify for a 30% incentive tax credit through end-2016, when it declines to 10%. In the first quarter, solar accounted for 49% of announced new power plant projects and 39% of completed ones, according to SNL. (Those figures do not count rooftop photovoltaic arrays installed for homeowners and businesses.)

Whether solar suffers the same fate as wind in 2017 will depend on how quickly the industry becomes competitive with fossil fuels, particularly in states with high electricity costs like California.

In the meantime, one country—whose renewable energy industry is not subject to the whims of legislators—will continue ramping up. China has announced it intends to install 18,000 megawatts of wind energy and 10,000 megawatts of solar this year.