Pullins: Wind opponents ganging up with rhetoric

While the resulting gang attack on my recent letter was not appropriate or necessary, it was expected. Personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with anti-wind rhetoric by gangs is a standard tactic of anti-wind activists. Also, the use of inflammatory rhetoric, misinformation, misdirection, emotion, intimidation and even threats are standard practices by anti-wind organizers throughout the country. Two years ago, Logan County Commissioners complained of threats against their families by anti-wind activists. All of this is designed to intimidate and discourage anyone from speaking up or challenging their altered facts. This has been very effective in suppressing the truth and an open dialogue in this community. Usually, their next hypocritical step is to accuse wind supporters of causing the discord in the community.

At the risk of further personal attacks, please allow me to refute the accusations in their recent letter while avoiding their vitriolic tactics.

• Everything about wind energy is conservative! Utilizing an unlimited resource to create energy, Jobs, wealth, diversification of the energy supply, increased tax base and tax revenue, the commercialization of new technology are all conservative ideals and principals

• In addition to personal attacks, the anti-wind crowd attacks the credentials and integrity of anyone associated with the project and renewable energy. I share my credentials for the public to decide who is qualified to speak. I served 33 years on the Ohio Farm Bureau staff assisting farmers in improving their lives. During that time, I helped to develop and then managed the Ohio Farm Bureau Energy Program. I have 50 years of farming and diverse business experience. I am an investor in and consumer of several forms of renewable energy. I have visited and experienced numerous operating wind farms and those under construction. I have 8 years of experience consulting in the wind energy industry including participating in all phases of the permitting process and involvement in months of hearings, appeals and community meetings. I am a landowner and resident and participant in the Buckeye Wind project. Most importantly to the anti-wind crowd, I have viewed many of the fearmongering anti-wind propaganda videos on the internet.

• Buckeye Wind leases do not contain a gag order.

• The zoning complaints are classic misdirection and misinformation. Wind energy projects, like all other energy generation installations over 5 megawatts, are governed by a permitting process under the regulation of the PUCO and the Ohio Power Siting Board. This permitting process is much more detailed and complex than any local zoning regulation. The permitting process does include “both” setbacks from property lines and setbacks from all occupied structures. These setbacks have undergone extensive review and are greater than setbacks in some other states. The setbacks comply with World Health Organization guidelines. By the way, the approved Buckeye project setbacks are compliant even when measured from the property lines of the three authors as they demand.

• The manufacturer setbacks referred to by the anti-wind gang are setbacks recommended by manufacturers during emergency situations. If your neighbor’s house is on fire, the firemen will evacuate your house and others in proximity to the fire. You can safely live in your house at all other times.

• The “theoretical” ice-throw examples are also bogus and another example of misdirection. The reality is, wind turbines are continuously monitored and automatically shut down during icing conditions. Therefore, the chance of a wind turbine that is not moving, throwing ice a half mile, is easily calculated by any school kid, as “ZERO”. By the way, in my search, no civilian has been injured by wind turbine ice throw while in contrast, up to 50,000 coal related premature deaths still happen each year in the U S.

• Another dose of reality is located less than 30 miles from Champaign County at the Honda Transmission plant near Russells Point. The plant erected two turbines in 2013 that are similar in scale to the turbines approved for Champaign County and one turbine is only a few hundred feet from the plant. These turbines represent less than 5 megawatts capacity and therefore were approved under local zoning regulations that the anti-wind activists say would provide greater setbacks and safety. Over 1,000 people work virtually in the shadow of the turbine daily with no ill effects. Obviously, these turbines meet the strict OSHA and manufacturer safety regulations.

• Leaseholders and all issues of the Buckeye Wind Project are publicly available. This process has been ongoing for nearly ten years including local hearings and hundreds of hours of OPSB hearings with court style cross examinations and expert testimony. Also, dozens of regulatory and court appeals all offering the opportunity for public input. Where were these opponents during the last ten years?

• Battery technology is real—- ask DP&L about the battery operation it built five years ago.

• Companies do not receive a tax credit for buying wind energy—they do receive a long-term supply of reliable, environmentally friendly and very economical electricity. The Production Tax Credit for renewable energy producers is being phased out and will end in 2019. Meanwhile, coal producers are still exempt from income tax and only pay low capital gains tax rates since 1951 and oil producers can offset much of their income with the oil depletion allowance. Is that fair?

• Farmers are not the rubes the anti-wind crowd makes them out to be. In my 40 plus years working with farmers, I have found them to be very astute business people and survivors in a very tough business subject to unpredictable weather, markets and government policy. Farmers are keenly interested in protecting their land while optimizing its return on investment. Most recognize wind energy is a good fit for that objective.

• In my many years of working in the energy industry, I have found Everpower to be the most landowner friendly and most community minded company I have ever worked with. Everpower encouraged every landowner to consult their contract attorney before signing a contract and then Everpower reimbursed the landowner for their legal expenses. Everpower was able to accommodate nearly every contract change requested and incorporated many of the requests into the contracts for “All” landowners. Everpower worked with every landowner to minimize the project impacts on their land and on the agricultural productivity of their farms through siting and project design. Everpower has always been willing to meet with individuals, officials and groups in the community to discuss the project and work to minimize any real or perceived impact on the community.

I encourage those with questions or concerns to contact the Everpower representatives. I also thank the Urbana Daily Citizen for allowing me to respond to the recent letter.

Mike Pullins

Union Township