In light of Stay at Home Order, Ohio ALJ suspends procedural schedule involving Republic Wind’s proposed line

Thirty days after the Stay at Home Order expires or has been rescinded, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will work with Republic Wind and regulatory staff to establish a new procedural schedule that sets new hearing dates and ensures continued compliance with any orders or restrictions issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a March 31 filing

An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Ohio Power Siting Board on March 31 said that the procedural schedule in the matter involving Republic Wind, LLC’s August 2019 application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build a transmission line in Seneca County, Ohio, is suspended in light of a Stay At Home Order issued in the state.

As noted in the entry by ALJ David Hicks, Republic Wind, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy Management, LLC, filed — simultaneous with the application — a motion for waiver from the requirement that states “that the alternative route have no more than 20 percent in common with the preferred route and a waiver from the requirement … that requires submittal of a formal route selection study.” 
Republic Wind also filed in August 2019 a motion for a protective order regarding certain trade secret information and confidential archaeological sites contained in its application, Hicks said.

As TransmissionHub reported, the board in December 2019 said that it had scheduled a local public hearing to be held on Feb. 26, 2020, in Tiffin, Ohio, to allow interested persons, who are not parties to the case (case number 19-1066-EL-BTX), to provide sworn testimony regarding Republic Wind’s proposal to build the transmission line to connect the proposed Republic Wind Farm to the electric grid. The board noted at the time that as proposed, the project entails a 7.2-mile, 138-kV electric transmission line and a point of interconnection substation located in Pleasant and Adams townships in Seneca County.

The proposed wind farm, pending separately in case number 17-2295-EL-BGN, would consist of up to 47 wind turbines located in Adams, Reed, Scipio, and Thompson townships in Seneca County, as well as in York Township in Sandusky County, the board said in December 2019, adding that the wind farm would have a total generating capacity of up to 200 MW. An adjudicatory hearing would begin on March 11, at the commission’s offices in order for Republic Wind, board staff, and parties to the case to present evidence regarding the transmission line, the board said at the time.

Hicks noted that Republic Wind on Feb. 5 filed a motion to suspend the procedural schedule in the matter, indicating that it was in the process of amending its initial application to propose a relatively minor modification to the proposed route of the transmission line. Due to approaching procedural deadlines, Republic Wind requested a suspension of the procedural schedule to prepare its amended application. Hicks added that regulatory staff on Feb. 7 filed communication in the docket stating that it did not oppose Republic Wind’s request to extend the procedural schedule. Hicks further noted that Republic Wind’s motion was granted on Feb. 7, and that hearings scheduled for Feb. 26 and March 11 were canceled.

Republic Wind on Feb. 25 filed with the board an amended application for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build the facility, along with a motion for a protective order regarding certain information reflecting archaeological sites deemed confidential by the Ohio State Historical Preservation Office. Hicks added that Republic Wind and staff on March 2 filed a joint motion requesting that the ALJ issue an entry establishing a procedural schedule; Hicks noted on March 31 that Republic Wind’s motion should be granted.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine on March 9 signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in Ohio to protect the well-being of Ohioans from the dangerous effects of COVID-19, Hicks noted, adding that as described in the executive order, state agencies are required to implement procedures consistent with recommendations from the Department of Health to prevent or alleviate the public health threat associated with COVID-19. All citizens are urged to heed the advice of the Department of Health regarding the public health emergency in order to protect their health and safety, Hicks said.

On March 22, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, issued an order — a Stay at Home Order — intended to ensure that the maximum number of Ohioans self-isolate in their residences to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue and help slow the spread of COVID-19, Hicks said.

Hicks said that in light of the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency, as well as the provisions of the Stay at Home Order, the ALJ finds that the procedural schedule in the Republic Wind matter should be suspended. Thirty days after the Stay at Home Order expires or has been rescinded, the ALJ will work with Republic Wind and staff to establish a new procedural schedule that sets new hearing dates and ensures continued compliance with any orders or restrictions issued by the governor and Acton in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hicks said.