An opponent of the proposed Buckeye Wind farm in Champaign County says in a new Ohio Supreme Court filing that it should not be built because the provision that justified it in Ohio’s renewable energy law is unconstitutional.
Ohio’s alternative energy portfolio standard, established in 2008, requires electric distribution and services companies to provide, by 2025, 25 percent of their supply from advanced energy, with at least half of that amount coming from renewables such as wind and solar. At least half of the renewable energy resources must be from facilities located in Ohio. That, says Jack Van Kley, attorney for Union Neighbors United, violates the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.
“This geographic preference for in-state renewable energy is a per se violation of the commerce clause,” Van Kley wrote in a Supreme Court filing Monday.
He also cites loud noises and the potential danger of the turbines’ large blades as objections to the wind project.
The fight comes at a time when prominent Republicans in the Ohio Senate are seeking to overturn the renewable energy mandates.
Union Neighbors United lost another Ohio Supreme Court case in 2011 by one vote. That case was about the first phase of the Buckeye Wind project near Urbana, which calls for 52 wind turbines. The second phase, which also calls for 52 turbines and has been approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, is what the current Supreme Court filing is about.
The project by Everpower Wind would spread across tens of thousands of acres. Everpower says both phases of the project would displace 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year and power about 50,000 homes.
Van Kley foresees a better outcome with the Supreme Court because the farm’s second phase will place the turbines closer to people’s homes, making them noisier.
“A lot of neighbors are going to hear noises from phase one and phase two turbines at the same time,” he told me.
Everpower Wind is not legally prohibited from starting its phase one construction, although Van Kley said they have not started any work.
The opponents of Van Kley’s appeal are expected to answer his brief next month. He expects the court to hold oral arguments in the summer.
The Ohio Power Siting Board could make a decision on a separate amendment filed by Everpower Wind in two weeks. Everpower is requesting adjustments, such as relocating a substation and four access roads, that Van Kley’s clients are largely unopposed to.
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