IMPORTANT NEWS: The public comment period for Rocky Forge has ended. Apex must now produce a document containing all of the comments and their responses. When that document becomes available, we will post it on our site. Click here to view the application documents provided by Apex to the DEQ.
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 all over the world that have accepted wind turbines from large-scale “Big 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 operates very differently than 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, and once it has qualified for the credits or incentives, it will then 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.
This project fits right into Apex’s wheelhouse. The project is not about building a sustainable wind facility. If it was, it would not be built in an area where there are less than optimal wind speeds, and it would not be this small. In short, this project would never be built if it were not for the tax credits and incentives – and that, combined with the fact that Apex, with their history of building marginal facilities and then selling them, is involved — 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; and
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).
A local business is suing because of the impact that the power lines associated with the Kingfisher Project will have on its business. (It should be noted that in the regards to the Rocky Forge project, Botetourt County intentionally left the new power lines out of the renderings because of concerns about public opinion.) It should also be noted that a second company is the main shareholder in this portion of the Kingfisher Project. Apex is managing construction. See http://newsok.com/article/3678347.
Apex is being sued for failing to follow Oklahoma law with regard to notice. The plaintiffs assert that Apex failed to provide adequate notice of its plans until three days before the project began. See http://newsok.com/article/5402630.
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-delayconstruction.html
, http://www.windaction.org/posts/42013-ikea-apex-wind-farm-non-payment-causesliens- filed-against-local-farmers#.VqTl3RYo41t and http://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2015/06/moreliens- against-hoopeston-wind-apex/.
In New York, Apex is proposing to build a very 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/, http://www.twcnews.com/nys/buffalo/news/2015/12/9/barker-wind-turbine-meeting.html, http://www.orleanshub.com/news2015/Lighthouse-Wind-detractors-stay-committed-to-fightingturbines- by-lakeshore.htm.)
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. See the full article here: Press Release regarding Lighthouse Wind Somerset NY