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OEC and Sierra Club Appeal Ruling on Icebreaker Wind Project from the Ohio Power Siting Board

Columbus, Ohio — On Monday, June  the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and Sierra Club called on the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to rescind unworkable modifications added to the Icebreaker Windpower Inc. (Icebreaker Wind) project “approval” — modifications which would prevent the project from moving forward.

Specifically, the OPSB modifications impose a “shutdown condition” which requires the wind farm to cease operations every night from March until November, making the project financially untenable. If Icebreaker should ever wish to have this removed, it must go back to the Board and proceed through another hearing before the approval can be granted.

In its appeal, the OEC and Sierra Club argue that these modifications are unlawful and unreasonable, as the decision by OPSB irrationally changes the agreement which was already designed to ensure minimum adverse environmental impact. Icebreaker Wind was rigorously vetted by 14 local, state and federal agencies, leaving no doubt that the project would follow the strictest environmental regulations and reviews. Through extensive negotiations over the course of several years, the parties reached an agreement on the project’s Revised Joint Stipulation containing 33 conditions that balance important and necessary protections for wildlife and Lake Erie while allowing this innovative clean energy project to move forward. The agreement was signed by Icebreaker, OEC, Sierra Club, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, as well as the Ohio Power Siting Board Staff, with experts from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources testifying in support.

“The Revised Joint Stipulation met each and every criterion required under Ohio law in order for a certificate to be granted,” said Miranda Leppla, Vice President of Energy Policy for the Ohio Environmental Council. “The Board’s imposition of these conditions contradicts clear and substantial evidence on the record, and serves as another blatant example of deviation from the standard practice of siting energy projects in Ohio when dealing with a renewable generation project.”

“The Icebreaker Wind project demonstrates the leadership we need in Ohio to combat the impacts of climate change and move Ohio toward a cleaner, healthier future,” Leppla said. “As Ohioans continuously experience the ever-growing and harmful impacts of climate change, the Power Siting Board must closely consider all of its decisions and how they impact the environment now, and for future generations. Unfortunately, the Ohio Power Siting Board, under Chair Randazzo’s leadership, has proven once again that instead of the “all of the above” approach to energy that Governor DeWine’s office has championed, the Board is treating renewable energy projects differently than other energy resources.”

To read the Application for Rehearing filed by the OEC and Sierra Club, please click here.

Additional Information About the Appeal:

The appeal documents a number of these unlawful and unreasonable discrepancies:
  • Despite the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) acknowledging that the Revised Joint Stipulation represents the minimum adverse environmental impact, it irrationally modified the agreement in its Order to add heightened requirements that the evidence and testimony at the OPSB hearing showed would be fatal if imposed upon the project.
  • In its decision, OPSB ignored the expertise of Ohio Department of Natural Resource (ODNR) Staff, including testimony of ODNR Research and Management Team’s Wildlife Administrator and Wind Energy Administrator Erin Hazelton, and the expertise of OPSB Staff, who determined the appropriate restrictions necessary to ensure minimum adverse environmental impact were included in the Revised Joint Stipulation.
  • OPSB violated the Ohio Revised Code by implementing a modification to the Revised Joint Stipulation requiring Icebreaker to come back for a second hearing before the Board in order to have the unreasonable modification removed. The OEC and Sierra Club cannot find another example where the Board has required a developer to come for a second approval in order to move forward with a project in this manner.
  • OPSB’s ruling violates public policy by failing to take into account the need to act as quickly as possible to reduce our carbon emissions and combat climate change.