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Lawsuit: Ohio wind setbacks were adopted in violation of state constitution

Energy News Network | Posted on November 15, 2018

A lawsuit filed this week over Ohio’s wind turbine setbacks centers on whether landowners, developers and others had a chance to be heard before the stricter terms were adopted as part of an eleventh-hour budget bill amendment in 2014.House Bill 483’s property line setbacks became part of a massive 2014 budget bill less than 24 hours before its passage by the Ohio Senate.Barely 10 minutes of discussion on the provisions took place on the Senate floor.That “tucked away” issue forms the basis for the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge now. The relevant part of the Ohio Constitution says “[n]o bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title.”The parties suing the state allege that the law “is a classic example of ‘logrolling.’” That kind of horse-trading practice typically combines unrelated proposals to get support from lawmakers who might trade support for one part of the bill if another part includes something to their advantage.

Deepwater Horizon oil spill's dramatic effect on stingrays' sensory abilities

Science Daily | Posted on November 15, 2018

Marine fishes rely on their sensory systems to survive. A study is the first to quantify the physiological effects of whole crude oil on the olfactory function of a marine vertebrate -- the Atlantic stingray. Results of the study, confirm that exposure to crude oil, at concentrations mimicking those measured in coastal areas following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, significantly impaired olfactory function in the Atlantic stingray after just 48 hours of exposure.

Paulding County farmers, wind industry association sue state over restrictive wind setback law

Paulding Progress | Posted on November 15, 2018

A group of farmers in Paulding County has filed suit against the state of Ohio, alleging that the Ohio General Assembly violated the state constitution when it passed a dramatic increase in wind setback mandates. In a case joined by the wind industry, the farmers assert that the legislature passed the amendment in House Bill 483 in 2014 in a totally unrelated piece of legislation, which is in violation of the "single subject" rule. The legislature adopted the surprise mandate just before the bill's passage, without any opportunity for input from affected landowners. Plaintiffs are requesting that the court strike down the provision due to this egregious constitutional violation.The lawsuit was filed today, Nov. 12, in Paulding County Common Pleas Court.Prior to HB 483, the minimum wind turbine setback distance from a neighboring property line was “1.1 times the height of a turbine.” The minimum setback from a habitable structure was 1,125 feet measured from the tip of the turbine blade. HB 483 replaced the property line setback with the much longer statutory minimum habitable structure setback distance – 1,125 feet.Prior to enactment of HB 483, 12 commercial-scale wind farms were approved by the Ohio Power citing Board, but since the bill’s passage, there have been zero, according to the lawsuit. Every Ohio wind project under development has been abandoned or stalled. Meanwhile, private demand for wind energy has skyrocket, documents stated.The plaintiffs claim the current setbacks “will continue to harm development and deprive local landowners and communities of the substantial economic and environmental benefits of wind energy.”

Closure of coal-fired power plant bringing dramatic change to navajo nation

Daily Yonder | Posted on November 15, 2018

Navajo leaders are scrambling to find a new owner for the Navajo Generating Station, which pays better than any other job on the Navajo Nation. Hopi Tribe officials have asked the federal government to buy electricity from the plant to avoid a shutdown.

Pipelines repeatedly cited by state regulators for environmental issues

Charleston Gazette Mail | Posted on November 14, 2018

As battles over two major natural gas pipelines play out in court, state regulators have continued to cite the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline for environmental problems.The Mountain Valley Pipeline has received 19 violation notices from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for failing to comply with the project’s West Virginia/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general water pollution control permit. The violation notices date back to early April, and the most recent was issued in early October, according to the DEP’s database.The violations happened in several West Virginia counties, including Greenbrier, Harrison and Doddridge. The pipeline is approved to span 303 miles from Wetzel County, West Virginia, into Pittsylvania County, Virginia.In many cases, a DEP inspector visited the site of construction and warned the site operator to take measures to comply with its permit. Then, the inspector wrote up a Notice of Violation, telling developers to provide a written response to the violation within 20 days. The violations don’t come with a monetary penalty.

The devil is in the detail of community solar plan

New Jersey Spotlight | Posted on November 13, 2018

Developers want state subsidies but not everybody agrees with that. And activists say low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans should get discounts on their bills.  The state wants to give low- and moderate-income families, mostly left out of the clean energy transformation occurring in New Jersey, the opportunity to cut their electric bills by getting their power from community solar systems.The concept, widely backed by the solar industry, clean energy advocates and public interest groups, is modeled on programs already in place in at least 17 other states, but New Jersey regulatory officials need to iron out key details of a new proposal if it is going to succeed, according to solar executives and others.Those details involve whether the projected cost savings are enough to convince households already having trouble paying their electric bills that reductions in their monthly energy bills would be enough to make it worth joining a community solar program.“If you are already struggling to pay your bills, you are not going to pay more just to save the world,’’ said Nancy Griffith, of the Unitarian Universalist for Faith Action said at a hearing on a new rule proposal to develop community solar programs in New Brunswick.Those communities also ought to benefit from jobs created by those investments, others said. “We want our communities to benefit not only price-wise, but job wise,’’ said Rev. Ronald Tuff, representing GreenFaith.

DuPont sells Iowa ethanol plant to German company; it will soon make renewable natural gas

Des Moines Register | Posted on November 12, 2018

The DuPont cellulosic ethanol plant in Nevada will be sold to a German biofuels company's U.S. subsidiary, which plans to convert the plant to produce renewable natural gas.  Verbio North America Corp., the Michigan-based subsidiary of Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie AG, will purchase the next-generation Iowa ethanol plant and a portion of its corn stover inventory. Verbio declined to provide a purchase price.The company expects to use corn stalks, husks and cobs to make the renewable natural gas, said Greg Northrup, president of Verbio's U.S. operation, in an email.Verbio will buy 100,000 tons of stover — roughly 150,000 bales — that DuPont has stored in central Iowa. Officials have not said how much stover will remain in storage after the sale.  

Nebraska fuel retailers add ethanol options to set themselves apart

Capital Press | Posted on November 12, 2018

A local gas retailer wants to show the competition who's "boss" when it comes to biofuels. “We've got options, we've got a lot of things our customers don't have,” said Charlie Bosselman, president of Bosselman Enterprises.On a day when the snow was flying, the shovels were moving dirt outside the Pump and Pantry on the corner of Webb Road and Old Potash in Grand Island, making way for new choices at the pump.Charlie Bosselman unveils a new line of fuels his company calls “Bossfuel”.“Fuel is our #1 product that we sell, so it should be an item we take the most concern with,” he said.While most gas stations give customers two choices, many of the Pump and Pantry stores have as many as five fuels to pick from.“Everything from premium gasoline to clear gasoline, to E15, E30, E85,” Bosselman said.The company president said options are good.“But it's also to promote and help develop ethanol in Nebraska,” he explained.

Slumping Ethanol Price Hurts Producers

DTN | Posted on November 12, 2018

Ethanol profit margins continue to remain negative and show little sign of improving, as evidenced by DTN's hypothetical ethanol plant, which continues to suffer from low ethanol prices.Neeley Biofuels Inc., a hypothetical 50-million-gallon plant in South Dakota, saw little movement in its margin in the past month. Including debt service and depreciation, the plant continues to show a 34.4-cent-per-gallons loss, compared to a 34.5-cent-per-gallon loss last month.Most ethanol plants, however, are not paying debt service. Excluding debt and depreciation, Neeley Biofuels continues to show a 3-cent-per-gallon loss, which is unchanged from one month ago.Since our last update on Oct. 16, the corn price paid by the hypothetical plant dropped by 5 cents to $3.73 per bushel. The South Dakota rack price of ethanol received by the plant, however, remained unchanged at $1.37 per gallon.Donna Funk, a certified public accountant with K-Coe Isom based in Lenexa, Kansas, who works with ethanol plants, said the industry is struggling.

Well-designed subsidies boost electric vehicle adoption

Energy News Network | Posted on November 12, 2018

In the 1990s, Atlanta was out of compliance with federal air quality standards for ozone, and vehicle emissions were primarily responsible. In 1998, the legislature passed a $1,500 tax credit for alternate fuel vehicles, which was increased to $2,500 for all low-emission vehicles and $5,000 for zero-emission vehicles over the next 3 years. The tax credit applied to buyers and first lessees of EVs. At the time, the bills were uncontroversial.As years passed, EVs became more widely available and declined in cost. The tax credit was successful at helping EVs gain a foothold in Georgia, particularly in Atlanta, where the range limitations of early EVs were less problematic than in rural areas. By mid-2015, Georgia had more EVs in service than any other U.S. state except California.It is crucial that these policies be designed with a long time horizon, that subsidy rates keep up with technological progress, and that they be phased out gradually according to a schedule or formula set years in advance. Programs in Georgia and China show the potential for policy to achieve success and specific pitfalls to avoid. With well-designed regulatory incentives and cost declines from advancing technology, quiet, zero-emission EVs can quickly become a common sight in cities worldwide.