To The Sun:
Many of us come into this discussion believing that wind power is a good idea, as it is a renewable resource and, in theory, appears to be a source of energy that would not pollute or harm the environment. While that may be true in some cases, communities across the world that have accepted wind turbines from large-scale wind companies – including Apex — are expressing deep regret. We ought to learn from the experiences of these communities and prevent the same harm from invading our area.
Apex Clean Energy operates very differently from what most people would identify as a legitimate “green” or environmentally friendly energy company, i.e., a company that would identify an appropriate site for a wind facility, build the facility and operate and maintain it. Apex is focused on the tax credits and other incentives associated with wind facilities.
Apex has a history of starting the process of construction of wind energy facilities. Once it has qualified for the credits or incentives, it will sell the project to another company. Companies who purchase existing wind facilities are often interested in tax or other benefits of owning the facility and not necessarily in the operations of the facility. Once the second company has used up the available tax benefits or the facility becomes too expensive to maintain, the trend is to sell it to another entity, and so on. In the end, the facilities often break down and fall apart. The deconstruction funds, if they exist, often take years to access and are often not sufficient to remove the facilities, let alone remediate the environmental damage caused by the facility.
The Neosho Wind Ridge project fits right into Apex’s method of operation. The project is not about building a sustainable wind facility. If it was, it would not be built in an area where there are 311 homes in four townships. Apex, when asked about the location, said “we don’t consider this a high population area.” In short, this project would never be built if it were not for the tax credits and incentives. Combine that with the fact that Apex is involved, with its history of building marginal facilities and then selling them, is a giant red flag.
Below is a sampling of some of the lawsuits Apex and its successors are involved in or about to be involved in. For many reasons, it is difficult to track the lawsuits and actions against Apex and its subsidiaries, but the three key reasons are:
1. Apex and the other companies involved in this business use numerous and varied limited liability corporations to operate. This makes them hard to track and hard to sue.
2. Apex requires any property owners that are involved (meaning receiving some form of payment for use of their land) to sign restrictive confidentiality agreements that do not allow the individual to discuss any problems with Apex, let alone bring a lawsuit.
3. Apex operates all over the U.S. and no known database exists detailing the actual number of lawsuits, regulatory actions, etc.
The following overview of three projects in three different states gives an overview of Apex’s record.
In Oklahoma, Apex was involved in a project referred to as the Kingfisher Project or Canadian Project. Apex is involved in at least three different lawsuits for three different reasons.
Local citizens are suing Apex over health and other issues (see http://newsok.com/article/5336432).
Apex’s reaction to the lawsuits and public opposition was not to work with the community to fulfill its promises to be a good neighbor. Instead, it sold the entire project to another company. See http://newsok.com/article/5387024.
In Illinois, Apex began construction of a wind facility. As part of the process, Apex had affected landowners sign agreements. Per its standard operating procedures, Apex sold the project to another company, Ikea. When Ikea and Apex failed to make payments to some of the contractors on the project, those contractors filed liens in order secure payment. Unbelievably, it was neither Apex nor Ikea who was subject to the liens, but the landowners. Apex had structured the agreements so that the property of the landowners, not Apex’s assets, ended up being at risk if Apex or its business partners defaulted. See http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2014-04-12/ikea-purchase-wind-farm-wont-delay-construction.html.
In New York, Apex is proposing to build a large wind facility near Lake Ontario. Despite Apex’s claims that it works with communities that want wind facilities, public opposition to this project is fierce and overwhelming. The localities involved have hired the former Attorney General of New York, Dennis Vacco, to represent them and local residents are preparing for litigation. Apex has made it clear that it will move forward with the project regardless of community opposition. See: http://wivb.com/2015/04/02/residents-speak-out-against-clean-energy-project/
In addition, the New York State attorney general has been asked to investigate Apex’s conduct by the town of Somerset with respect to attempts to influence state and local government decisions by the use of “astroturfing.” “Astroturfing” is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though the message originates from and is supported by neutral third parties. In other words, astroturfing creates the false impression of a legitimate grassroots movement. Apex may have engaged in astroturfing by (1) concealing the true author of letters in support of the project; and (2) failing to disclose whether the signers of those letters have a personal financial interest in the project.
Why would Neosho County want to do business with these people? — STEPHEN D. JEFFREY, Erie