How I built a wind power plant – the story of bureaucratic despotism

I have developed the intention to build a wind power plant as a backup power supply already 10 years ago. I have a family house with solar panels for domestic hot water and also for heating. After the enactment of the Renewable sources of energy law in Czech Republic and after thorough analysis, I began working on the project of a small wind turbine. It should have been 35 metres high with the power of 450 kW. Should have been built 1.5 km away from my home. According to official sources, 440 years ago a windmill stood in that place. 
větrná elektrárna Wikov
Photo: Michal Kolář

The house is situated 600 meters above sea level. In the foothills of the Brdy mountains, there are harsh winters. Once, it was the only place in Brdy where there was a ski lift. During the reconstruction, I made the whole house weatherized, heating built into the floor and prepared the system to connect solar panels for heating water.

My dream was it to be a self-sufficient house, where you can come any time and there will always be warm, no matter whether the electricity is on (frequent power outages, black-out = expensive monopoly power). The first winter after the reconstruction, I have found that rural life is indeed tough, but romantic and independent in a way.

Independent living in a village

I moved there from Pilsen. I installed solar colectors on the roof with a 1000 liter storage tank and began to work intensively on a backup power source not only for the coolant pump drive „solárek“ but also the entire house.

I rejected photovoltaics because the price was excessive and performance very pood. Since we are on the hill and the first spring is about 2 km below the village, I spurned the water power and concentrated on the wind. I must admit that as a mechanical engineer and technologists I was deeply excited about the innovative machine called „wind turbine“.

From my youth I remembered that my place under the Brdy mountains was almost always windy and only rarely it was calm. This is due wide sight from the Sumava Mountains to Ore Mountains few times a year you can seen Alps. First, I have made a small toy wind turbine from and old plane and connected a lighting-diode. It shined all the time.

So I bought my first weather station and began to measure and record meteorological variables. In the beginning I even ran 3 times daily for 2 km away amplifier to synchronize the data with the big Czech official meteorological weather station in nearby village of Kocelovice. Later I installed a weather station on the tree at the amplifier, where it was stole by radio amateurs. Therefore I installed my own meteo-pole a little farther. I wanted to be sure that the wind really pays off. My readings converted according to tjhe height of the column show speeds above 6 m / s, which should be competitive.

Endless bureaucratic wheel

First, I offered the project of a wind turbine (VTE) to the village, which, through the voice of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, refused, pointing out that I should build it for myself (they’ve got work to do already with gasification). I bought a remote site about 200 meters from a nearby BTS, secured network connections (from CEZ Distribution), arranged geodetic survey, received a positive opinion fom the village and about thirty other institutions.

But because I feared that as a small businessman I won’t get all the money needed for a wind power plant, I had pre-negotiated purchase of used and reconditioned, about five years old windmill from Germany .

Bud then suddenly, at the beginning of 2006, the Energy Regulatory Office (ERO), changed the ordinance to purchase electricity from renewable sources by the discounted purchase price. The new version said that any equipment older than two years is not eligible for these purchases.

Another problem was that such small machines were almost out of productions, since the trend is to enlarge the machines because of better ROI. My options therefore where: stopping the project, or revise it for a larger VTE and try to get money (indeed, that was the advise from ERO).

I thought that more power could mean bigger savings and bigger back-up for a larger number of people. I let a professional company to handle financial analysis, which showed that if I didn’t sell electricity to CEZ but directly to consumers it would save them 30-40% (which can be up to tens of thousands CZK per year). I have a letter from the Office, certifying that it would be feasible.

Furthermore, the analysis showed that the plant should easily meet the consumption of all eight municipalities under Čížkov. There I was elected a city representative in the meantime, because a bunch of independents won the election. Not to mention, that a wind turbine could attract tourists into our poor region and it would then pay off to open here some show, to implement water supply, to establish a water-treatment plant, etc.

New project is up

After about half a year I managed to rework the entire project, including new statements. To be sure, that the whole process which is extremely lengthy and expensive, does not run in vain, I have personally visited MD. Zimmermann, Governor of the Pilsen County. He told me that he is not in favor of wind energy, but even though he guarantees that the opinion of the County for such project will be professionally neutral (it was in summer 2006).

Based on this information I began to invest heavily my time and money into this project: energy audit, preparation of EIA Notification and documentation, noise studies, studies of intervention in the landscape, stroboscopic studies, etc. I paid for it all around CZK 300 000.

On August 18, 2006 I filed a notification of intention to the Regional Office. According to the conclusions of the inquiry proceedings, the intention has been awarded ten statements in which it has been given general approval for the implementation plan: also references from Councillor for the Environment, MD. Kreuzberger that there is „no objection“, from Ing. Levý (chief of environmental and construction administration in Nepomuk) that „assessment plan is not required for the second round by law 100/2001, Coll.“ And so on.

Yet, on 15th September 2006 Regional Office decided that my project should be assessed just under said law 100/2001. At the end of the inquiry proceedings, there hasn’t been given anyspecific reason for the assessment, also there were no specific conditions for the development of „documentation“ or supplement attachments.

I paid commission for the documentation and all necessary studies. On November 1st, 2006 I started area management at the construction administration in Nepomuk and applied at the environmental office for landscape impact assessment.

The card is turned

But then the card turned over. On December 19th, 2006 by Governor of the Pilsen Region (the same MD. Zimmermann) introduced a draft resolution of disallowing a VTE in the Pilsen Region. Officials who decide on approving or disapproving a project are indeed his indirect subordinates and it is difficult to proceed against the governor’s will, who they meet every day in the corridor, as well as it is for officials of the lesser communities. From this moment on Ing. Levý and County start to work together on buring my project into the ashes.

Ing. Levý paper performs the functions of head of the environmental administration in Nepomuk, while he also „serves“ as the head of the construction administration at the same place. Concurrence of these two functions allows him to fool around with the project and devise the most complex obstruction to delay the process or destruct it altogether.

This is a classic example of swapping the project inbetween the corrupted offices: Ing. Levý as an executive of the department of environment wrote a negative opinion, which did not grant consent to change the landscape, which was the only argument to suspend the whole process of territorial management as the head construction administration. Moreover, he gave a negative zoning decision without waiting for the result (opinion) of EIA, for which he suspended the zoning before! My appeal was rejected by the Pilsen Region and verified the decision of the Town Council in Nepomuk, as expected.

The result of the EIA procedure

Documentation on the management of the EIA was submitted to the Regional Authority of the Pilsen Region in early September 2007 (year of work). It’s conclusion stated: „Based on all these characteristics and previous chapters, the processor of this documentation believes that the actual impact on the individual components of the environment in the affected area is viable, both during construction and during actual operation.“

In terms of landscape issues then: „… document can very accurately show what the real aesthetic impact of VTE on the surrounding landscape (expertise of Dr. Petr Obst). When evaluating the site landscape, it was stated that the intent of the site can be considered conditionally acceptable. “

In late November ordered the Regional Authority a report on the documentation from a private company Ekoaudit s.r.o. This report reads: „The documentation has been assessed according to the requirements of Section 9 of Act No. 100/2001 Coll. On the assessment of environmental impacts within the scope of Annex 5 of this Act and after considering all the above circumstances, it can be stated that the project can be accepted . „The report is a proposal endorsed by the competent authority (KÚPLK).

County’s opinion: rejected!

Despite all these positive reviews and comments, and despite the recommendations of experts, the Regional Authority on March 19th, 2008 issued a „dissenting opinion“. Such an opinion is entirely irrelevant, especially for the following reasons:

First ,The only binding opinion of the village is a positive resolution from 24th Februady 2006, which was unanimously voted 8 to 0 at a public meeting in favor of building VTE (a copy is included in the documentation). That the Mayor writes his disapproval on a piece of paper and does not accept council’s resolution might be judged as a „misuse of public office“ and this rag of paper should not be included in the documentation.

Second, Situating the VTE in the natural park does not conflict with any law or decree of the Czech Republic or the EU (as well as the nearby quarry, mining 800 tons of gravel per day and a BTS only slightly lower than the planned power plant, have no problem with their position in the middle of the Natural Park Brdy).

Third, the „Expert study“ which says that this location is „not recommended“ for the construction of VTE has been purposely prepared under the authority of the County by a „professional firm“ (Centrum pro krajinu, s. r. o.) which has no person with appropriate authorization. The company was also founded three months after filing the notice of my intention for the construction of a VTE. The study was purpose-built in only two months, ordered by the County (of which there are rekords to be found in the administration files) and does not fit into the role of a binding opinion. Moreover, it states:

„The study is one of the sources for impact assessment of the specific objectives of investors and does not replace the process of assessing environmental impact and zoning. Defining landscape spaces as conditionally suitable for the construction of wind turbines can not automatically imply the assumption of a positive statement of relevant authorities regarding the location of the building and there is no binding for legal authorities. This material is professional preventive studiy of large land area, which also does not know the exact parameters of the proposed building and therefore its depth, respectively. concreteness of the processing are not able to cover all possible aspects of the impacts of the proposed projects on the landscape. “

Under current legislation you can not appeal against this opinion, and without a positive assessment of the EIA you can not build even a well today! I lost my dog, 5 years of life, family, health, nerves, and illusions. Not to mention the money.

Just to say nothing about such pettiness as the son of Mr. Mayor, the day after I announced that I would run for the council, ran around the village with a petition against the plant, although his father six months before voted for it, as well as the whole council. Or that all courts in which I asked for justice, I paid and as expected, did not win.

The entire EIA process to go through here:

At a public meeting of the municipal council on November 12th, 2010 after the election of a new mayor, I donated the entire project to the village Čížková. Let it now break someone else’s head. I was already tired of it!

About the author:

Michal Kolar – was born in „stinky and noisy“ Pilsen, grew up in a healthy and beautiful Brdy mountains. At the age of 25 he moved into a flat panel apartment on the top floor, where he constantly fought the cold and bills. Since that time he became interested in the possibility of installing solar panels and a small wind-power turbine.

Jan Horčík

Zakladatel a šéfredaktor magazínů Ekologické bydlení a

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