Election Results — November 6, 2012

Here are some of the positive unofficial results from yesterday’s Michigan election:

Proposal 3: 25×25 Wind Energy Mandate

By a margin of 63% to 37%, Michigan voters rejected Proposal 3 that would have amended Michigan’s constitution to require that 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from wind, solar, hydroelectric and biomass sources by 2025. Were this proposal to have passed, it was likely that thousands of wind turbines would have been placed throughout the state of Michigan and that the state would have been forced to pass laws overriding local control of wind turbine siting issues.

101st Michigan House District

In the race for the Michigan House of Representatives’ 101st District, representing Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, and Mason counties, incumbent Ray Franz defeated Allen “Allan” O’Shea, Duke Energy’s volunteer and founder of the American Wind Energy Association. Mr. O’Shea’s advocated for state control of wind turbine siting issues and for turning portions of our region into an industrial wind generation facility. The final vote was:

Ray Franz 25,195
Allen O’Shea 24,165

Joyfield Township

In Joyfield Township, candidates supported by the Committee for the Future of Joyfield swept all five seats on the Joyfield Township Board. They will be able to continue moving Joyfield towards planning and zoning, and, we hope, responsible regulation of wind turbine siting issues.

The results were as follows:

Supervisor
Matt Emery 227
Chelsie Tanner 214

Clerk
Ted Wood 297

Treasurer
Christine Smith 248
Debra Lindgren 189

Trustee (top 2 vote getters win)
Jim Evans 258
Mark Alan Evans 278
Jodi Lindgren 200

Posted in Benzie, Duke Volunteerism, Get In the Game, Joyfield, Michigan | Leave a comment

Duke Energy Volunteer Allan “Allen” O’Shea’s problem with the truth

Duke Energy’s volunteer, Allan O’Shea, is the chief proponent of turning large portions of Benzie and Manistee County into a giant industrial wind generation facility. Now he is running for the Michigan House of Representatives’ 101st District seat, which represents Mason, Manistee, Benzie and Leelanau counties. It is reasonable to assume that if elected to the legislature he will continue his agenda of bringing an industrial wind generation facility to Manistee and Benzie counties, which he has described as one of his “lifelong goals”.

But wait, is that really the case? According to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, Bernard Allen O’Shea is running for this seat. We do make spelling mistakes, but this is not one of them. Is it Allan, or Allen? From all the available evidence, Mr. O’Shea used the name Allan until sometime between February and April of this year. Then he suddenly changed the spelling of the name he uses in public in connection with his campaign. Why would someone after seventy years of living with one spelling of his middle name suddenly decide to change it by one vowel? And who is this Bernard Allen O’Shea? Is he a registered voter in the state of Michigan?

In referring to Allan O’Shea as Duke’s volunteer, we are being ironic. We do not believe that Mr. O’Shea, founder of the American Wind Energy Association, was a volunteer for Duke Energy, America’s largest publicly traded power company. We believe that he was paid agent of Duke. Or perhaps, he had an expectation of being paid by Duke Energy, and then Duke changed its mind.

To say that Mr. O’Shea has given contradictory answers on his relationship with Duke is putting things charitably. For example, at a panel session that took place in December 2010 to discuss the proposed industrial wind power project, panelists were asked to identify any monetary conflicts of interests they may have had. Mr. O’Shea, who was identified on the panel as Duke’s “Regional Representative”, responded coyly that he expected to receive “over $500” if the wind project went ahead, clearly communicating to all in attendance that he was working for Duke and expected to benefit financially from the project. On other occasions, for example, in testimony before the Benzie County Board of County Commissioners, Mr. O’Shea denied that he had ever been compensated by Duke in any way. Mr. O’Shea has given similar contradictory statements in private conversations of which we are aware. When politicians make two incompatible statements one of them is usually referred  to as a “misstatement”. When normal citizens do this it is called lying. Here is the business card that Mr. O’Shea used while he was representing himself as Duke Energy’s regional representative:

By referring to Mr. O’Shea as Duke’s volunteer we are making a comment about Duke Energy. They are actually enough of a untrustworthy company that they just might have allowed Mr. O’Shea to serve as their “representative”  — leading him on as if he would someday be compensated — without actually ever compensating him. Were this to be the case it would say something about both Mr. O’Shea and Duke. Duke is not beneath screwing over its business partners, even if they are other Fortune 500 companies. Do a Google search for “Duke Progress merger scandal” and read more.

But we digress. Michigan law does not require that Mr. O’Shea disclose his financial arrangement with Duke Energy. We have always said that Mr. O’Shea has had a moral obligation to come clean about his relationship with Duke, especially since he had just stepped down from being the chairman of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners.  If he does choose to make statements about his relationship with Duke Energy, citizens expect him to be honest.

However, as we have now learned, Mr. O’Shea seems to have trouble with more basic questions, like the spelling of his middle name. Is it Allen or Allan? The evidence suggests that the person previously known as Bernard Allan O’Shea suddenly decided in February or March of 2012 to use a different spelling of his middle name, “Allen” instead “Allan”. “Allen” is the name used on his election posters and sign, and is the name that appeared on the August primary ballot and that will appear on the November general election ballot.

However, Mr. O’Shea has run for office previously. From 2006-2010, “Allan” O’Shea served on the Manistee County Board of Commissioners. Previously he served as Supervisor of Marilla Township. On each occasion, he was listed as Allan O’Shea on the ballot, and in all public records, documents and minutes referencing him during his terms that we have been able to find. You can still see “Allan O’Shea” bumper stickers on cars in Manistee and Benzie counties. Here is a picture of an Allan O’Shea placard from one of his previous campaigns:

Note the spelling of “Allan”. Now here is an O’Shea placard from this year’s campaign from a parade this summer:

As you can read in the AWSG’s previous post, Allan O’Shea, Volunteer, when Mr. O’Shea signed the articles incorporating the American Wind Energy Association in 1974, he spelled his name Allan. When Mr. O’Shea was recognized at the June 2012 annual conference of the American Wind Energy Association as its founding president, someone forgot to tell them to spell his name differently, and he was identified as “Allan“. However, by the time a press release was sent to the Record-Patriot, the spelling had been changed to Allen.

We would all like to think that we are at the center of the universe. We can only think of one reason for Mr. O’Shea’s sudden switching out of a vowel. Our guess that Mr. O’Shea started using a different spelling of his middle name in order to make it difficult for citizens to know about his relationship with Duke Energy and his service as its number one volunteer.

Mr. O’Shea registered the domain name allanoshea.com in January of 2012, and on his original campaign website he spelled his name Allan. This was his website. However at some point in the spring, and unfortunately we weren’t taking notes, he changed his primary website address to osheaformi101.com, which was registered in February 2012. However, allanoshea.com still redirects to osheaformi101.com. The contact e-mail for Mr. O’Shea’s campaign is still listed as allan@allanoshea.com.

Allan O’Shea’s personal facebook page used to be public. It is no longer publically accessible, and he has changed the spelling of his name to Allen. However the URL handle for his name is still spelled using what we think is the legal spelling of Mr. O’Shea’s middle name:

https://www.facebook.com/allan.oshea.98

When Allan O’Shea announced his candidacy on February 7, 2012, he was still spelling his name Allan. The press release, with the Allan spelling, was still available on his website as of the time this post was made. Do you want to guess how little time it will be before he changes the spelling in it as well?

On the web page of Mr. O’Shea’s business, Contractors Building Supply, Inc., available at http://windowswindandsolar.com, Mr. O’Shea is identified as Allan. (Watch how quickly it changes.) Here is a screenshot of Mr. O’Shea’s company’s webpage showing a profile of Allan O’Shea:

In all of the public filings for this business, Mr. O’Shea’s middle name is spelled Allan. Mr. O’Shea serves as the resident agent of his business, Contractors Building Supply, Inc., and in the records of the State of Michigan, the Resident Agent is: B. Allan O’Shea. Here is the most recent annual report filed by Allan O’Shea with the State of Michigan. Again, note that he is listed as B. Allan O’Shea:

Note that the above document was dated 4/24/12 and received by the State on 4/27/12.

So Mr. O’Shea just changed a vowel in his middle name. What’s the big deal, you ask? Mr. O’Shea is not just an ordinary citizen. He is running for public office.  When and whether Mr. O’Shea properly changed the spelling of his middle name is a big deal. Here is a question. Is the person who is listed on the November ballot actually a registered voter in Manistee County? If he is not, could the Michigan House of Representatives decline to seat Mr. O’Shea, in the event he is elected in November on the grounds that the person elected does not exist.

Is it legal for a candidate to spell his name differently on the ballot from the legal spelling of his name? Yes, but Mr. O’Shea must do it properly. He still has to properly declare his full legal name in the proper manner. Below are excerpts from the Affadavit of Identity Mr. O’Shea filed with the Secretary of State’s office in April 2012 when he declared his candidacy for the Michigan House of Representatives’ seat:

You can download the whole document here.

As you can see, in this document on April 11, 2012, Mr. O’Shea swears under penalty of felony imprisonment that his true legal name is “Bernard Allen O’Shea”, and more importantly, he swears that he has not changed his name for reasons other than marriage during the last 10 years.

Then, on April 27, he filed another document with the State of Michigan — the annual report for his business — indicating that his name was “B. Allan O’Shea”.

As far as we can see, there can be number of explanations:

1. Around February of 2012, Mr. O’Shea legally changed the spelling of his middle name from “Allan” to “Allen”, but on his Affadavit of Identity filed with the Michigan Secretary of State, he made a false statement when he stated that he had not changed his name “in the last 10 years for reasons other than marriage”, potentially subjecting him to a felony prosecution under MCL 186.558, 933, and 936.

2. Mr. O’Shea did not legally change the spelling of his middle name. He used a different spelling of his middle name when filing to run for office. The Michigan Secretary of State’s office failed to verify the proper spelling of Mr. O’Shea’s middle name with the proper spelling of Mr. O’Shea’s name on the voter rolls. The “Bernard Allen O’Shea” running on the Ballot does not actually exist. Can a person who doesn’t exist run for office, be listed on the state ballot, or win an election? Will the Michigan House of Representatives vote to seat Mr. O’Shea in January, if he were to win the election? Would the person who signed Mr. O’Shea’s Affidavit of Identity be subject to felony prosecution under MCL 186.558, 933, and 936?

3. For nearly his entire life, and on numerous official documents, Mr. O’Shea has been using an improper spelling of middle name, and has now only come clean about the proper spelling of his name. What is the statute of limitations for making a false statement to the State of Michigan? If Mr. O’Shea has been lying to us about the spelling of his middle name for nearly his entire life, about what else has he not been telling the truth?

If you have another explanation for Mr. O’Shea’s change in middle names, we are eager to know what it might be. If our analysis is erroneous, we would be happy to correct it.

But if we are correct, and if Mr. O’Shea can’t be straight with us about his relationship with Duke Energy, and he can’t be straight with us about the spelling of his middle name, what else is there that he doesn’t want us to know about him?

Posted in Duke Volunteerism, Get In the Game | Leave a comment

Neighbors wind turbine project feeling ‘blown away’

The following news article appeared in the September 18, 2012 edition of the Benzie Record-Patriot. Here is a link to the original article.

RIVERTON TWP. – This used to be a quite, picturesque community in farm country just southeast of Ludington.

That scene has been transformed with the introduction of 56 industrial wind turbines under construction since late last year.

Now the dream of living among “the rolling hills, the nature and serenity… we are blown away,” according to this description captured in a poem written by one of Cary Shineldecker friends, neighbor and fellow Riverton Township resident.

Consumers Energy, the Michigan utility giant and principal subsidiary of Jackson based CMS Energy Corporation, came to Mason County in December 2007 to begin collecting leases from more than 160 property owners on 9,300 acres and easement within the 16,000 acre project area for their $235 million 56 industrial wind turbines in Riverton and neighboring Summit Township.

Mason County’s planning commission approved the project 6-0 in mid 2011, ignoring pleas from surrounding non leasing holding property owners. Construction on the 476 foot tall to the blade tip towers began later that year.

Consumers said it would create 150 jobs during peak construction and eight to 12 full time jobs during operation. Energy generated from the wind turbines would power 25,000 homes.

Direct and indirect spending in Mason County would be $33 million and over the next 20 years, the county, township and school taxing units would get $29 million.

Shineldecker and his wife Karen are “unwilling and extremely unhappy close neighbors of industrial scale wind generators in Consumer Energy’s Lake Winds Energy Development.”

He says Consumers calls it a “park as if to give it an identity of something that it isn’t. Yellowstone National ‘Park,’ Yosemite National ‘Park’ and even New York’s Central ‘Park’ are places of refuge for people to escape from stress and relax. Consumers Energy’s development for many is a place that we hope to escape from.”

The couple moved here because they decided it would be the ideal place to being their life together. They bought a beautiful house set in the country, back off the road, with a small stream, a horse pasture, room for a garden and a front porch to view natures’ wonders with a grand view of the rural countryside.

They were recently married, and with their horses and their dogs proceeded to fit in and to actively become a part of the community.

As they met their neighbors, they learned of the soon to be wind development out their backdoor. Not the realtor, nor the seller, nor the local farmers had mentioned a word. It was a secret concealed and cloaked in darkness and deceit.

Their mortgage is signed for 30 years and they have committed everything they possess including their hearts and souls into their news beginning.

Now with the construction of the scattered industrial site things have changed for the Shineldeckers.

“It has transformed our rural, country setting into an industrial setting, with visually dominating, acoustically obtrusive 476 feet tall wind turbines with 328 feet blade spans.”

As readers can see with the picture Shineldecker took of his home, one turbine is right next to his house. “This turbine is 1,139 feet from our front yard property line and about 1,200 feet from our bedroom window.” This describes the one close to the house with other wind turbines surrounding them.

He says, “My home used to be a place of sanctuary for my family, a safe place, where we could come home and rest and find peace. Now it is a place that creates anger and inspires disillusion in man and government.

“Many will become wealthy from this push for renewable energy, others will be collateral damage, accepted and ignored by the government and zoning laws that are suppose to be in place to protect them.”

Flicker, the shadows the blades create when the sun is behind them, is inside his home. Something left out of a report of how it would impact Shineldeckers’ home.

He owns about 250 acres which is almost exclusively set aside for wildlife and nature. “Wind energy does nothing to protect these places or the animals who inhabit them.”

Upset the way things have turned out, Shineldecker says, “Michigan deserves better than what it is getting from the wind industry, Michigan utilities, and the Michigan state government.”

If the government is willing to change a rural residential neighborhood into an industrial area, and according to a number of studies, reduce the value of home and property, should the owner be compensated by either the industry of the government? Shouldn’t there be a Property Value Guarantee (PVG) so if a utility grade wind turbine is located within two miles of a residence and the home can not be sold for the pre-project market value, the property owner is compensated.

“I asked Consumers Energy to me my home at fair market value. Consumers Energy, public relations specialist, Dennis McKee told me Consumers Energy is not in the real estate business. However Consumers Energy purchased several properties essential to the project including at least two homes and part of an orchard.

“The bottom line is the were able to get away with it by Mason County Planning Commission and Mason County Board of Commissioners being so permissive to Consumers and ignoring the wishes and rights of their citizens.

“This project changes everything about where I live and what I enjoyed about being here. I want absolutely no compensation for the inconveniences and intrusiveness of this highly industrial project.

“This is home invasion and my family and I along with many, many neighbors now just simply want out. We want to leave and we want our lives back,” says Shineldecker.

What did that industrial wind turbine do to the value of your home and property?

It depends who people ask. Some studies indicate a drop in value of anywhere between 30 and 40 percent, and in some cases higher.

Canadians in Ontario are facing the same problem. One property owner on Lake Erie put her two acre, waterfront property up for sale before the turbines appeared for what three agents said was a reasonable price of $270,000. Two years after the turbines went up, she took $175,000, and felt lucky to do that.

On average, from 2007 to 2010, properties adjacent to turbines in this area of Ontario sold between 20 to 40 percent less than comparable properties that were out of sight from wind turbines. And homes were taking longer periods of time to sell.

Shineldecker said he “hired real estate expert appraiser, Mike McCann to evaluate my home and the project area. He estimated that due to the extreme view of the turbines and the nuisance stigma associated that I would lose a minimum of 30 percent value, if I can sell my home at all.

“He provided a full appraisal of my property which includes 2,700 square foot fully remodeled home with high efficiency forced air and central air, a 40×60 pole barn, 30×40 detached insulated work shop, two car garage, green house, sprinkler system, paved driveway, all on 16 acres for $257,000. He estimated my loss of $77,000 minimum.

“He also appraised other homes, one of which just sold for exactly what he predicted at 25 percent under current market.”

Shineldecker said the U.S. Deptment of Energy paid $500,000 for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories to evaluate property value loss near wind farms. This report concluded no loss attributable to turbines however significantly less than one percent of the homes in the study were within the nuisance stigma zone or with an extreme view of turbines.

In fact, 56 percent of the 7,500 home sales in the DOE/LBNL study were five miles away and had absolutely no view of turbines.

Consumers started their Mason County project in the fall of 2011.

“On Dec. 16, 2011 they moved a bulldozer in and began a turbine driveway which took up our entire front yard. The huge bulldozer and compacter shook the house. The pipes in the walls, the plates in the cupboards were rattling like crazy. Quite unbelievable.

“Their semis drove in our yard making wide turns and smashed some of our sprinkler heads. We ended up having a leak in our water line to the house and our septic tank settled and pipes cracked at the same time.

“We made official complaints at that time for noise, vibration, and smashed sprinkler heads, but nothing was done. I dug up and repaired the irrigation, my well piping, and my septic system on my own. We actually had flag men at the end of our driveway,” said Shineldecker.

The first turbine was completed this June.

It is possible some property owners, non lease holders, may receive some compensation. A $2 million fund was set up.

“Consumers calls the ‘Good Neighbor Fund.’ We call it the ‘The Bad Neighbor Fund.’ I will not accept a trivial amount of compensation for the hardships that Consumers Energy has placed on my family over the past two years and then extending into the future until we are able to leave. They have taken everything away that I enjoyed about living here.

“Money cannot replace what is lost. We just want out,” said Shineldecker.

“I am president of Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Renewable Energy. We fought for safe setbacks and safe zoning. We do not believe that good, honest, innocent citizens should be victims and collateral damage in the obscure quest for unreliable and expensive renewable in this country.

“Many, many people will become extremely wealthy on the backs of U.S. taxpayers while others are unwillingly forced to forfeit their homes and their lives. It is just not right,” he said.

“We spent over $75,000 in research expenses, zoning amendment expenses, and attorney fees to try to protect the citizens of Mason County. I have spent the last several years tirelessly communicating our findings statewide.

“We have educated countless people and have networked worldwide. In a sense our loss has prevented others from loss. It is somewhat satisfying knowing that I have helped others, but then each night when I return home to my own reality, it can be much less comforting.”

Posted in Get In the Game | Leave a comment

Calling 25×25 an ‘investment’ is beyond absurd

The following Guest Column was published in the September 18, 2012 of the Benzie Record-Patriot. The author, Kevon Martis, is the director a of the Interstate Informed Citizens’ Coalition, an energy watchdog group based in Blissfield, Michigan. Mr. Martis wrote in response to a recent article by the director of the Traverse City – based Michigan Land Use Institute advocating for the passage of Proposal 3, which would write a 25 percent renewable energy standard into Michigan’s constitution. The article was published on the organization’s websites and a number of publications, including the Record-Patriot.

Recently Mr. Voss of the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) wrote an article in support of Proposal 3, the ballot initiative to amend Michigan’s constitution to require 25 percent renewable energy.

In this article, Mr. Voss was speaking from an expensive and now shopworn script assembled by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and their “Big Fossil”-heavy leadership board. And that is the first red flag: this 25×25 effort is almost exclusively funded by out-of-state interests.

Michigan campaign disclosures reveal that $1.3 million for this ballot initiative came from the GreenTech Action Fund of San Francisco, CA. Another $450,000 came from the Natural Resources Defense Council of New York, NY. $250,000 came from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, $100,000 from the Regeneration Project, San Francisco, CA. and $50,000 from AWEA, the wind industry activist group.

In total, nearly 90 percent of the funding for this effort came from outside Michigan.

Interestingly enough, GreenTech Action Fund’s sole benefactor is a group called “The Energy Foundation.” tinyurl.com/2dgpcau They are also listed as benefactors of MLUI: tinyurl.com/8ja2y7a

Among these closely related environmental and green energy advocacy groups, Sierra Club and AWEA have both decided to place a bull’s-eye on Michigan. They are using Michigan as a test case for ballot initiative-driven renewable energy mandates.

At their Chicago wind energy seminar earlier this year, AWEA presenters championed a drive for more state-level mandates as the lavish federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), roughly equal to the wholesale price of electricity, is set to expire. Absent the price support of the PTC, AWEA believes state mandates like 25×25 would create a market for wind energy irrespective of price.

In essence, Michigan is a test case for constitutional RPS mandates because large out-of-state political/industrial forces see an advantage to them and their constituents, not because they have the best interest of Michigan ratepayers/taxpayers at heart.

Mr. Voss and MLUI are working in lockstep with them.

Will 25×25 create some jobs?

Any activity that is both mandated and paid for by governmental fiat will produces jobs. Legislating that we produce electricity from incinerating baby ducks would also create many jobs. But would that justify mass “duck-icide?” Certainly not.

Jobs creation alone does not give economic justification to the underlying activity. And if one looks closely at the modeling used to measure green job creation we see that only projected jobs gained are counted. Job losses in other sectors due to increased energy costs and state-mandated reallocation of finite capital are not counted.

So rather than asking “Will 25×25 create jobs?,” the more relevant question is whether it will create more jobs than it eliminates through its economic ill effects? The best evidence suggests it will not.

There can be no meaningful discussion of renewable energy without evaluating electricity rate impacts. Mr. Voss mentions Proposal 3’s one percent annual cost cap. But there is a high likelihood that such a cost cap is illegal and would be severed from the amendment.

Some even argue that it is only included for cynical reasons, knowing it will be struck down under judicial scrutiny while giving the false appearance of cost control. But the fact that a rate cap is necessary (even if only a PR tool) tells us the 25×25 promoters recognize a ratepayer impact that cannot be ignored.

By using their own one percent number we realize that in eight to nine years (with compounding of interest) our electrical rates will rise another 10 percent. (Using DTE’s projections of four to five percent a year makes it far worse.)

How would that affect Michigan residents?

The University of Michigan spends $60 million annually for electricity. A 10 percent hike in UM’s electric rates is essentially a tuition increase of $146 per student.

And what would a similar 10 percent rate increase mean nationwide? The U.S. steel industry consumes $18 billion of electricity per year. A 10 percent increase in power rates is a surcharge of $18,000 per year per employee. That money would no longer be available for union wages, fringes, healthcare or pensions. And it certainly will not make Big Steel more competitive globally.

Does Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs computer modeling take these impacts into account? Certainly not.

And is producing wind energy in Michigan getting cheaper?

Not according to Appendix F of Feb 2012 Report on the Implementation of PA295. Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts approved by MPSC in 2010 were all in the $94-100 Megawatt Hour (MWh) range. 2011 saw the much ballyhooed $61/MWh PPA for the DTE/Tuscola Bay project.

But the next three PPAs in 2012 are all back to the $98 to $106/Mwh range.

This coincides with the Berkeley National Lab’s 2011 report on wind turbines costs. Since 1997 turbine prices have varied from $1,600/kW in 1997 to a low of $750 in 2000-2001. It then doubled to $1,500 through 2008. And in low wind resource regions like Michigan, current turbine pricing is near that peak at $1,400/kW. So the equipment itself has not grown cheaper in Michigan.

The federal Energy Information Agency now reports that the cost of purchasing and installing wind turbines is $2,400.kW.

If we use the wind industry’s projected 20 year lifespan for turbines, include a modest cost of capital and then adjust for Michigan’s 2012 measured wind capacity factor of 25 percent, the true cost of producing wind energy exceeds $120/MWh. Yet the wind developers are selling it for as little as $61/MWh.

How is this possible? The only way one can sell $120/Mwh energy into the grid at $60-110/MWh is by hiding the taxpayer subsidies and Renewable Energy Credits (RECS) necessary to make that possible.

But irrespective of this accounting legerdemain, ratepayers and taxpayers are still paying in excess of $120/MWh for wind energy, either in taxes, utility fees or increased cost of goods and services that depend upon electricity to be delivered.

But even the extraordinarily low $61 Tuscola Bay PPA is 1.5 to 3x typical wholesale electricity pricing, a substantial premium. These expensive wind contracts have not yet had a significant impact on electric rates because Michigan’s wind production is less than one percent of all production. But at 25 percent, the rate implications of such expensive wind energy are obvious.

And what of the so called $10 billion “investment” needed to make this happen?

Leaving aside the question of whether constitutionally-mandated spending is properly called an investment, $10 billion is too low. It is based on a very conservative projected turbine count of 3,100 turbines to reach the 25 percent mandate. But reaching 25 percent with only 3,100 turbines would require Michigan turbines to produce wind energy at a rate never seen.

A more sober assessment of the number of turbines needed based on 2011 production data from EIA is in excess of 4,000 units and perhaps 5,000. And when we understand that several thousand square mile of land would be required to reach this number, wind developers will be forced to build in less windy regions, thereby depressing already low capacity factors.

With so many turbines required, turbine costs alone could reach $20 billion. And this figure does not include the huge cost of new transmission lines, the necessary natural gas fired balancing plants, the loss of revenue from conventional plants due to increased cycling and the cost of stranded conventional assets.

A $20 billion dollar price tag (more than the market cap of DTE Energy and CMS Energy combined) amounts to a $8,000 per Michigan household of four in addition to the increased energy costs the renewable mandate will create.

To force that much money out of the pockets of ratepayers and taxpayers and into the coffers of European turbine manufacturers and Big Fossil/Wind companies like Duke, NextEra and Exelon is folly. But to call such an action an “investment in Michigan’s economy” is beyond absurd.

And finally, will 25×25 make electricity rates more stable? Yes. But only by creating fixed long term contracts for energy at two to four times the current wholesale pricing.

We could do the same with cars. Would GM be glad to “stabilize” the cost of a new car by getting you to sign a 10 year purchase contract at four times the current retail price? I am sure they would. And would it create some jobs? Of course. Would GM prosper? Absolutely. But such economic foolishness, like 25×25, would be an absolute disaster for the end consumer.

The IICC, Inc. is a bi-partisan renewable energy citizen’s watchdog group based in Blissfield, MI. The IICC is completely independent and receives no funding from any environmental or industry interests.

Posted in Get In the Game, Record Patriot | Leave a comment

Is the Grand Traverse Band building a 492-foot wind turbine in Acme township?

According to filings made with the FAA, a new industrial wind turbine is coming to the Grand Traverse Area. The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a construction permit to the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa indians to build a 492 foot wind turbine north of M-72 between Acme and Williamsburg northeast of Traverse City. Read a copy of the FAA’s determination letter here, or read the summary here. The company seeking the permit on behalf of the tribe is NativeEnergy of Burlington, VT. According to the permit construction is scheduled to begin in August of 2013 and be concluded by October of next year.

According to a July 22, 2012 article in the Traverse City Record Eagle (Click Here), the wind turbine is situated on a 159 acre parcel which the Tribe is trying to place into trust for a “potential winery”, solar facility, biomass facility or a wind farm. By placing the land in trust, local government would no longer receive $19,500 in property taxes on the property. Placing in the land in trust also has the effect of eliminating local planning and building regulations, which would be helpful if someone wanted to erect a 492-foot high industrial wind turbine.

Here is the turbine location:

The Band received a $160,500 federal grant in 2009 to “enhance their Renewable Energy Strategic Plan and develop a plan to implement wind energy for Tribal facilities.” According to the US Government’s stimulus website, recovery.gov, the plan is more than 50% completed as of June 30, 2012. The project was expected to create 0.04 jobs. (That’s four-hundredths of a job.)

The transfer of the lands to the tribe requires the permission of the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. It seems as if the Department has not yet made a decision on this matter.

For some background on the transfer of this parcel of land, download a packet of materials prepared for August’s Acme township meeting.

Posted in Get In the Game, One Mile is Not Enough, This is a Regional Effort | Leave a comment

Township Visioning Session Summaries

The collaborative master planning “Land to Lakes” initiative has released summaries of the information collected in township visioning focus groups that were held during the month of June.

A make-up session for Pleasanton, Bear Lake township and the Village of Bear Lake will be held at 6:00 p.m. on August 16, 2012 at Bear Lake School in Bear Lake.

Here are the township-by-township summaries of the participants’ answers to the following questions:

1. What one word would you use to describe your community?
2. What has your community done well?
3. What could your community have done better?
4. What are the barriers to achieving our community goals?
5. Who should be in the sandbox? (i.e., who/what should participate in the planning process?)
6. What are the three most important goals for the community’s future?
7. How can these goals be accomplished?

Finally the goals in question 6 were prioritized by all participants in the session.

Arcadia Township
Blaine Township
Crystal Lake Township
Gilmore Township
Joyfield Township
Pleasanton Township
Springdale Township

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Duke’s Volunteer wins 101st House Seat nomination

Yesterday, Duke Energy’s volunteer and chief local booster, former Manistee County Commissioner and Marilla Township Bernard “Allen” O’Shea, won the democratic primary in the 101st Michigan House district, narrowly defeating former Grand Traverse Band of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians’ Chairman Derek Bailey. Mr. O’Shea will be running against incumbent republican Ray Franz in November. Mr. O’Shea received a majority of voters in Mason and Manistee county. He did not do so in Benzie and Leelanau counties.

Mr. O’Shea is the founding president of the American Wind Energy Association. (It recently honored him at its annual meeting in June in Atlanta.) His lifelong dream is to turn areas of Manistee and Benzie counties into an industrial wind generation facility. Mr. O’Shea was the principal local cheer leader for Duke Energy’s Gail Wind project. Mr. O’Shea also gave inconsistent, conflicting explanations of his financial relationship with Duke Energy.

Read more about Mr. O’Shea, Duke’s volunteer, here.

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Draft Blaine Zoning Ordinance — Public Hearing Tonight

The draft Blaine township zoning ordinance has been released and can be downloaded in its entirety here. The planning commission will be holding a public hearing on the ordinance at its regularly scheduled meeting tonight at Blaine Township Hall (White Owl) tonight, Wednesday, August 8, at 7:00 p.m. Public comment by Blaine township residents and property owners, as well those of neighboring townships, is encouraged.

PLEASE NOTE THE TIME CORRECTION. THE HEARING IS AT 7:00 PM, NOT 8:00 PM.

 

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Election Results – August 7, 2012

These are the results from tonight’s contested Republican primary elections in Joyfield Township, as well as the referendum on the adoption of a planning commission. All of the candidates supported by the Committee for the Future of Joyfield won and will stand in the November general election.

Supervisor
Matt Emery – 170
Tom Hart – 157

Clerk
Ted Wood – 185
Susan Zenker – 144

Treasurer
Deb Gatrell – 160
Christine Smith – 174

Trustee (top two vote getters win)
Jim Evans – 186
Mark Evans – 153
Guy Sauer – 136
John Nugent – 136

Question – Shall the Planning Commission Ordinance be adopted?
YES – 190
NO – 131

Democratic Primary
101st District — Michigan House
Derek Bailey – 22
Allen O’Shea – 10

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June Township Meetings

Blaine – Township Board – Tuesday, June 5 – 7:30 p.m.

Joyfield – Township Board – Wednesday, June 6 – 7:00 p.m.

Arcadia – Planning Commission – Wednesday, June 6 – 7:00 p.m.

Pleasanton – Planning Commission – Monday, June 4 – 7:00 p.m.

Pleasanton – Township Board – Tuesday, June 12 – 7:00 p.m. (DATE CHANGE)

Arcadia – Township Board – Thursday, June 14 – 7:00 p.m.

Blaine – Planning Commission – Thursday, June 21, 2012 – 7:00 p.m.

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Lakes to Land Regional Initiative

The Lakes to Land Initiative is a a joint venture between a number of townships in Benzie and Manistee Counties to plan their collective and individual futures, funded by a grant from the C.S. Mott Foundation and the State of Michigan. The initiative will provide technical and financial resources to each township as it writes and/or revises its own individual master plan. Under Michigan law, a master plan is the legal basis for a township’s land use planning and zoning. The hope of the project’s organizes is that the the townships will work together to figure out ways that they can cooperate to achieve their shared goals.

You can read more about the initiative at its website here.

Today and tomorrow information sessions will be held to explain and answer questions about the initiative and the proposed process as follows:

Tuesday, May 23 – 7:00 p.m. – Onekama Consolidated School Cafetorium

Wednesday, May 24 – 7:00 p.m. Frankfort-Elberta Elementary School Gym

The townships taking part in the initiative are Arcadia, Bear Lake, Pleasanton, and Bear Lake Townships in Manistee County and Blaine, Gilmore, Joyfield, and Crystal Lake Townships in Benzie County, as well as the City of Frankfort.

BUT THESE ARE NOT THE IMPORTANT MEETINGS TO ATTEND. THE VISIONING SESSIONS NEXT MONTH ARE WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

One of the first steps in drafting each community’s master plan will be the holding of a community visioning session during the month of June in which citizens will be asked to discuss their vision for their township and the region through a series of exercises. WE BELIEVE THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ATTEND AND ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN THE VISIONING SESSION HELD FOR YOUR COMMUNITY.

The community visioning sessions will be held for each township as follows:

Arcadia – Tuesday, June 12, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Pleasant Valley Community Center, Arcadia

Joyfield – Wednesday, June 13, 2012 – 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Blaine Christian Church, Arcadia

Crystal Lake Township – Thursday, June 14 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Frankfort/Elberta Elementary School, Frankfort

Gilmore – Thursday, June 14, 2012 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Old Life Saving Station, 1120 Furnace Ave., Elberta, MI

Pleasanton – Monday, June 18, 2012 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Bear Lake School, Bear Lake, MI

Blaine – Tuesday, June 19, 2012 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Blaine Township Hall

Bear Lake Township – Thursday, June 21, 2012 – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Bear Lake School, Bear Lake, MI

A multi-township make-up session for those, including summer residents, will be scheduled for early July.

Posted in Alliance for Economic Success, Arcadia, Bear Lake, Benzie, Blaine, Joyfield, Pleasanton, Process, This is a Regional Effort, We are not alone | Leave a comment

Windfall movie now available on itunes

The movie Windfall has been released digitally at iTunes. You can purchase your own digital download of the movie here for only $5.99, It will be available from Netflix by DVD on May 15, and is expected to be available at Netflix for live streaming shortly.

Here’s the trailer:

Posted in Get In the Game, We are not alone | Leave a comment

April Township Meetings

Monday, April 2 – Pleasanton Twp Planning Commission – 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 3 – Blaine Twp Planning Commission – 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 4 – Arcadia Twp Planning Commission – 7:00 pm.

Wednesday, April 4 – Joyfield Twp Board – 7:00 p.m.

Monday, April 9 – Pleasanton Twp Board – 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, April 10 – Gilmore Twp Board – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 12 – Arcadia Twp Board – 7:00 p.m.

Posted in Arcadia, Blaine, Joyfield, Pleasanton | Leave a comment

Due Diligence Summary — Buyer Beware

Are you an executive for a wind energy development company? Are you an attorney, accountant, analyst or banker working for such a company? Are you an analyst for or a partner in an alternative investment vehicle looking for exposure to wind?

Who is this man and if this project is so great, why is he trying to sell it to you?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have already heard from this gentleman, Milton R. “Milt” Howard. Mr. Howard is a Vice President of Duke Energy’s Renewables Division. Mr. Howard has spent the better part of the last two years trying to turn large portions of Benzie and Manistee counties into a large industrial wind generation facility, a.k.a, the “Gail Windpower Project”.

According to an online profile, Milt “derives immense satisfaction from envisioning growth, making it happen and generally ‘creating something from nothing’.”

What size bonus do you think Mr. Howard will get if he is successful in selling you the black hole down which Duke Energy’s shareholders have been throwing money for much of the last two years? Better yet, do you think YOU will still be around to get your bonus when this happens to you (Make sure you listen to the interview with Mr. Howard.)?

If you are an individual engaged in conducting due diligence on Duke Energy’s “Gail Windpower” project, we thought you might appreciate some help. Here are some of the things Mr. Howard and his colleagues might be telling you, some questions you should be asking them in in response, as well as some additional questions and issues you should consider before trying your hand at “making something out of nothing”.

The first thing Mr. Howard may be telling you is that Duke gave up because they couldn’t get a power purchase agreement and maybe you will be able to get one at some point in the future. This is patently false. In response to questions from a Michigan business publication, here’s what Duke’s chief local proponent/volunteer (we’ll learn more about him later) said: ” ‘[Duke] could not keep throwing good money at a situation that was not going to fly.’ He said a small, well financed faction that did not want the Windpower project to be completed, ultimately was the deciding factor.”

You may also want to ask Mr. Howard why, if there insufficient demand for renewable energy in Michigan, Duke is continuing full speed ahead with its other industrial wind energy project, the “Hillsdale” wind project. Here is some recent correspondence between Duke and Reading Township that suggests that Duke might be having some trouble with that project as well. Maybe Duke is willing to offer you a discount if you pick up two of its failures.

Mr. Howard will tell you that Duke is selling 13,000 acres of land in Benzie and Manistee Counties, enough contiguous land for an industrial wind facility. About those leases. Ask Mr. Howard why Duke has never recorded these leases or memoranda thereof in the courthouses of Manistee and Benzie counties. Ask Duke why it has never returned countersigned copies of the leases back to the lease signers. Then ask a first-year law student whether a binding legal obligation has been created by a document to which only one of two counterparties has agreed to be bound.

Mr. Howard may be telling you the project has widespread political support. Duke might show you nonbinding resolutions from Benzie and Manistee counties in support of renewable and wind energy. Here’s the thing. Ask Mr. Howard whether or not zoning is controlled at the county level in Manistee and Benzie counties. Once you find out that it is not, ask Duke about the status of industrial windpower-related zoning ordinances in the four affected townships. Mr. Howard might be busy “creating something out of nothing” somewhere else. We’ll save you some time. The county boards of commissioners have absolutely nothing to do with permitting wind energy projects in the area for the proposed “Gail Windpower” project.

Wind turbine construction will not be permitted in Arcadia township until such time as the township completes a revision of its comprehensive plan and writes a new wind energy ordinance. Pleasanton and Blaine townships are in the process of writing wind energy ordinances and both communities are considering strongly protective ordinances with height restrictions, setbacks and noise restrictions. Joyfield township has declared a one year-moratorium while it writes a master plan and considers zoning and other methods of properly regulating industrial wind power.

Mr. Howard will tell you that Duke’s timing wasn’t right and that you might have better luck because of political support for wind energy in the state legislature. He might tell you that industrial wind energy has a lot of support in the state legislature. He might tell you that a citizen initiative on the ballot in the state to expand Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard to 25 percent will create new demand for wind energy, the absence of which was responsible for Duke’s failure. In fact, we hear that Duke’s number one volunteer is running for the Michigan House of Representatives (see below).

You may want to know that the opponents of an industrial wind facility in this part of Michigan have some political support as well. When a bill was moving through the legislature that might have reduced local control over wind turbine siting, in a manner described by many Lansing observers as the most fast-tracked bill anyone had seen in recent memory, our supporters were able to get the objectionable parts removed. Our supporters were able to get a bill amended on third reading on the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives. If you don’t know what that means and how often it happens in the state of Michigan, ask your political advisor to explain it to you. In fact, if you have the resources to consider buying this “asset” from Duke, you probably have a lobbyist on retainer in Lansing. Pick up the phone and give him a call. Ask him about Michigan HB 4746.

Duke will tell you the region has citizens who believe in wind energy and are willing to work for free in order to help a developer such as you succeed. Maybe Mr. Howard will tell you about Duke’s number one volunteer, a lifelong advocate of industrial wind energy who is a former chairman of the Manistee County Board of Commissioners. This volunteer was even the founding president, incorporator, and first registered agent of the American Wind Energy Association. He has decided to run this fall for the Michigan legislature. (Good luck with that.) Do you think that Duke’s volunteers have things all set up and ready to go for you. Do you think they will allow themselves to be hung out to dry twice?

Duke will tell you “the project is only opposed by a small, vocal group of ‘antis’.” This is evidently the industry term for those who oppose or advocate for the responsible regulation of the erection of 519 foot wind turbines in their community in close proximity to their residences and the effects associated therewith, including noise, property value decreases, and shadow flicker, just to name a few.

Mr. Howard will tell you that these “antis” (again, his words, not ours) are a  just a small vocal minority of people in the townships on the lake. The problem with this theory is that Joyfield township is not on lake Michigan and the voters there voted to recall three members of their township board last November in response to the failure of board members to consider a discussion of industrial wind energy at township meetings. Ask the three former members of the Joyfield Township Board, who had signed wind leases with Duke and had refused to consider zoning or even discuss the proposed project in township meetings, whether or not Joyfield support the project. Ask them why they think that they were recalled by nearly 60 percent of the electorate last November.

As far as public opinion is concerned, make sure you ask Duke for a copy the survey that it commissioned from Central Michigan University in the Spring of 2011. Ask Duke about the more recent survey conducted as part of the Understanding Wind Initiative on behalf of township governments in the affected area by researchers from Macalester College in the summer of 2011. Alternatively you can follow the hyperlinks above.

Do you think that you will be able to do all of this and keep your corporate image in intact? Maybe you are convinced that investing in industrial wind energy will allow you to greenwash your corporate image. Try googling “wind energy lynching” or “Duke Energy lynching” and see what your investors will be asking about at the next shareholders’ or investors’ meeting. Better yet, take a drive down Glovers Lake Road in Pleasanton Township to see what is on display today.

How much will you have to incur in legal expenses? What are the regulatory risks involved in the project? Ask Mr. Howard how much Duke Energy’s shareholders paid their Michigan counsel, Warner, Norcross, & Judd (WNJ), last year? Maybe Warner, Norcross, and Judd’s members will agree to give you a discount. Ask Duke how many evenings a partner from WNJ had to drive from Grand Rapids to Benzie County (2.5 hours each way — in Google maps, enter the staring point as 111 Lyon St NW, Grand Rapids, MI, and the ending address as 5490 Benzie Highway, Benzonia, MI — the Joyfield Township Hall) in order to sit in on township board and planning commission meetings, including one or more  that arguably might have been held in violation of Michigan’s Open Public Meeting Law.

You may want to ask WNJ’s managing partner  just how profitable his firm’s relationship with Duke Energy was last year, and how much his firm is looking forward to continuing to work with you in order to see this project through.

Ask Mr. Howard to show you a copy of the eight-page, single, spaced lawyer letter that he had his lawyers write in order to counter a letter written by this “small, vocal minority.” In fact, you might be interested in reading the AWSG’s original letter to Pleasanton landowners, Duke’s eight-page, attorney-written response, and AWSG’s point-by-point response to that letter. Here is the short version of the truth on Duke Energy’s raw deal and summary of the points made by AWSG that are not disputed by Duke.

You may be interested to know about the ongoing litigation between AWSG and Central Michigan University regarding a FOIA request filed by AWSG which is pending before the Manistee County Circuit Court. The case number is 11-14283-CZ.

While you are doing your due diligence, you might want to make sure you get a copy of all communications between Mr. Howard and the townships concerned by this project. We are not sure what kind of e-mail software Duke Energy uses, but it seems that Mr. Howard may not have complete records of all of his past e-mails. Last summer he had his local employees enter into a local gas station and market and steal copies of e-mail correspondence between him and local township officials that should have been in his own inbox and outbox. When one of his local supporters decided to enter into the same establishment and steal even more documents which had been placed there for the public to view by concerned local citizens, he commended this supporter’s action. Just in case Mr. Howard does not give them to you, here are the e-mails that he had stolen from Max’s station in Arcadia. Here is some of the other correspondence between Mr. Howard and Local government officials: Duke’s FOIA request to Arcadia Township as well as a follow-up letter, Duke’s threatening letter to Pleasanton Township regarding its proposed wind energy ordinance, a redline of Pleasanton’s proposed wind energy ordinance showing Duke’s “proposed” changes, just to cite a few.

Do you really think that you will be able to keep your activities a secret? This is evidently the norm in the wind energy industry. We believe that if you got Mr. Howard on truth serum (kind of like he appears along with his dog in the picture above), he would tell you that one of the reasons he failed was that he was unable to keep the project secret from the neighboring residents before Duke could secure a power purchase agreement. This clearly is what someone from Duke told Duke’s hometown business newspaper when you read between the lines of this article which tries to explain Duke’s failure.

Ask Mr. Howard what Duke thought about the AWSG’s sunshine project which was able to get the real story behind the negotiations that led to the writing of Duke’s wind lease. As part of our research efforts, AWSG received a treasure trove of documents detailing the inside story of Duke Energy’s “negotiations” with local landowners, including how Duke paid for the lawyers who represented the landowners in their “negotiations” with Duke. (And when your boss or client starts looking into retaining Michigan counsel for your own firm, he or she might want to contact Robert W. Parker and Jonathan “Jon” Siebers at the Michigan law firm Smith, Haughey, Rice, and Roegge about their familiarity with the rules of professional conduct for Michigan attorneys, specifically, Rule 1.8(f).)  We have some more documents that we haven’t yet put on the web if you are interested.

By this point in the diligence process, you may be in need of a more general introduction to industrial wind energy. There is a movie about industrial wind energy called Windfall. It will (pun intended) blow you away. It is now out in limited release and will be available on demand and through other outlets soon enough. Don’t just take our word for it. As Duke’s number one volunteer says, do you own research. Watch the trailer. Read reviews of the movie by Roger Ebert, Salon, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. Once you have watched it you can tell Mr. Howard whether or not you agree with his characterization of it as “Alfred Hitchcock-like”.

In conclusion, the people of this region have critically examined and rejected turning it into a large industrial wind generation facility. We have come together to protect our communities, and we are not going away. Come to visit. Come to stay. Come back again and again. Just put your wind turbines somewhere else.

These are just the highlights of what’s available on our website, which you should read from the beginning, if you really think that you are eager to try your hand at making something out of nothing.

Posted in Due Diligence, Duke's Pressure Tactics, Get In the Game, This is a Regional Effort | Leave a comment

Joyfield Township Adopts Utility-Grade Wind Moratorium

Tonight the new Joyfield Township Board met for the first time since the February 28 Special Election.

At the meeting, the Board passed a one-year moratorium on the construction of utility-grade wind turbines in the township. The Board also voted to create a planning commission. (Joyfield township has not previously had planning or zoning since zoning was disestablished by Benzie County.) Finally, the Board voted to join the collaborative master planning initiative along with other townships in Benzie and Manistee Counties, including Crystal Lake, Gilmore, Blaine, Arcadia, Pleasanton, Bear Lake, Onekama, and Honor.

This means that all of the townships in the footprint of Duke Energy’s previously proposed Gail Windpower project have moratoriums or other similar measures in effect and are all pursuing protective planning and zoning measures.

Posted in Get In the Game, Joyfield, Joyfield Property Rights Association, This is a Regional Effort | Leave a comment