Three intervening parties in the Buckeye Wind Farm project filed documents opposing a motion to extend the date of certificate in the first phase of the project.
On July 14, project applicant Buckeye Wind filed a motion to extend the certificate date of the first phase of the project from March 22, 2015, to May 28, 2018. The applicant asked the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to extend this date after dealing with a series of delays caused by ongoing litigation.
On Tuesday, the Champaign County Commission, Urbana Township Trustees and citizens group Union Neighbors United (UNU) filed memorandums opposing Buckeye Wind’s motion.
In the county and township’s memorandum, the intervenors argue that the project applicant’s proposed extension would increase construction time from five years since the certificate was granted to eight years, two months and six days.
Condition 52 of the certificate in the first phase of the project states that the certificate “shall become invalid if Buckeye (Wind) has not commenced a continuous course of construction of the proposed facility within five years of the date of journalization of the certificate.”
In Buckeye Wind’s motion to extend, the company states that the extension would allow the first phase of the project to utilize an electric substation, laydown yards and many of the underground transmission lines that are part of the Buckeye Wind II project.
The county and Urbana Township argue that both phases of the project are separate and independent projects and at no time has the project developer stated to the OPSB an intention for the projects to be done at the same time. The intervenors also note that their questioning of future projects within or near the project’s footprint was not allowed during the hearing process of the first phase of the project.
“Further, questioning of the foreseeable impacts of the two projects, if built together, was not allowed during the hearing process of Champaign’s application as it was argued by the developer that (the second phase of the project) was separate from (the first phase of the project),” the intervenors’ memorandum states. “In the event that Buckeye’s project and Champaign’s project are being built jointly, thereby necessitating an extension which coincides with Champaign’s project, then Buckeye’s certificate should be reviewed through the amendment process, with required time for public comment, and the conditions of Buckeye’s project should possibly be revised to be consistent in all respects to Champaign’s project.”
The local boards also contend that following the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling in March 2012 to affirm the OPSB’s decision to grant a certificate in the first phase of the project, there was no further litigation of the project, but now Buckeye Wind is asking for a larger extension than the delay caused by the appeal to the Supreme Court.
The county, Urbana Township and the townships of Goshen and Union are appealing the second phase of the project and an amendment to the first phase of the project to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The intervenors also question why a request for an extension was not filed at the same time that the project applicant filed the amendment to the first phase of the project in early 2013.
“Clearly, Buckeye (Wind) had the opportunity to request modification of condition 52 and extension of the certificate until May 28, 2018 at the time of filing the amendment to the certificate,” the intervenors state. “It appears that Buckeye chose not to include the extension in its filing of amendment to the certificate in February 2013 and only does so now by motion, not by further amendment, in an attempt to avoid the statutory allowance of time for public comment.”
In addition to the memorandum filed on behalf of the Champaign County Commission and Urbana Township, the Champaign County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion asking for an extension of time to respond to Buckeye Wind’s motion on behalf of Goshen and Union townships.
The motion asks the OPSB for a 10-day extension for the two townships to file a memorandum opposing the extension. Because of when Buckeye Wind’s motion was filed, the county contends that the two townships were unable to meet to discuss the motion and were unable to schedule a special meeting to discuss the motion.
With both township trustee meetings scheduled for Aug. 5, the county is asking for their responses to be due on or before Aug. 8.
In its memorandum opposing the extension, UNU argues that the board should deny the motion for substantive and procedural reasons.
The group contends that another three years of uncertainty will continue to harm the community and that Buckeye Wind may not bypass the process for the filing of an application, public notice, a staff investigation, staff report and potentially a hearing that are established by Ohio General Assembly statutes and the board’s rules for examining the effects of a certificate amendment on the community.
In June, Gov. John Kasich signed legislation freezing the state’s renewable energy standards for two years as a study committee reconsiders the mandates, and he did not veto a midterm budget provision requiring wind turbines to be built further from property lines.
Following this action, EverPower Senior Director for Permitting Michael Speerschneider told the Daily Citizen that these two pieces of legislation cast some doubts on the direction that Ohio is moving regarding renewable energy.