Impact on People and New York
Several residents in the town's wind district are worried that construction of massive windmills will cause contamination of their wells.
The wind district sits on limestone bedrock, under which lies an underground aquifer that supplies the water. ...The state Department of Environmental Conservation made comments on the groundwater issue during the state environmental quality review comment period for Iberdrola's Horse Creek Wind Farm.
"Because water enters the carbonate rocks rapidly through sinkholes and other large openings, any contaminants in the water can rapidly enter and spread through the aquifers," it said.
Concern about noise impact on neighbors again delayed a vote to allow residential windmills in the Town of Ithaca.
At a Monday night meeting, the Town Board voted 4-3 to send the law back to committee. Town Supervisor Herb Engman and board members Pat Leary and Bill Goodman voted against, hoping to get the law passed Monday. ...Board member Rich DePaolo called the change in the law a "loophole" that would potentially allow "the noisiest windmills in the quietest areas."
"I think it applies the law unequally, based on where you live," DePaolo said.
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Tourists have long treked to the region to see the Niagara River plunge as far as 188 feet over the Horseshoe and American falls.
But what if windmills taller than the falls is deep soared above the city's skyline?
A company founded by Sabres owner B. Thomas Golisano has approached city leaders about building wind turbines on old industrial sites in the city.
While the company sees economic opportunity, the prospect exists for millions of tourists to see windmills on the horizon of Niagara Falls.
"The issue for us is one more of aesthetics than anything else," said Thomas J. DeSantis, senior planner for the city. "Is it OK to put a 600-foot wind generating station at Falls and First streets? Probably not.
"I think because we're Niagara Falls, and because we have certain scenic and national resources that are important to us, that we'll want to try to protect them in some small way, we'll want to look at those issues."
Blades have begun to turn on 121 wind turbines here and in neighboring Ellenburg, a 35-minute drive northwest of Plattsburgh. Saturday, they turned with a soft whush, whush, whush.
"Whush, whush, whush, all day long, all night long - I moved here because it was so peaceful and quiet," groused Allen Barcombe as he pointed to the nearest tower, jutting up 400 feet into the sky behind his house. ...The New York turbines, in two projects developed by Noble Environmental Power, are the first of nearly 400 expected to go up in five towns on a windy plateau just south of the Canadian border.
When completed, the development about 90 minutes from Burlington will represent the largest concentration of wind turbines in the eastern United States.
[A]fter they had brought a house in Depauville, they found out about the proposed Horse Creek Wind Project. They and their doctor believe that the turbines will produce similar low-frequency noises and those noises will interfere with his defibrillator. ...The low frequency noise range of these wind turbines could interfere with the proper functioning of Mr. Wilkie’s AIC defibrillator leading to shutting down of the device,” Carroll L. Moody, Mr. Wilkie’s cardiologist, wrote in a visit report.
The plans for the development show one turbine within a half mile and nine within 1 ½ miles.
In six months Mr. Wilkie had lived up here, he had not had an incident, his wife said. But 12 hours after he returned to Florida in March to finish moving and visit his doctor he collapsed. A second collapse led to a five-day hospital stay.
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Supervisor Frank Duserick said the town of Naples is investigating what legal standing it may have to protest the placement of wind turbines planned for neighboring Prattsburgh.
"We're not against wind towers," Duserick said. "But we are for appropriate placement of towers. Our concern is they should have put them a minimum of 1,500 feet from the town line."
Ecogen of West Seneca, near Buffalo, has proposed building up to 53 turbines - though the number could fall to 31 if it switches from a 1.5 to 2.5-megawatt model - in Prattsburgh in 2009.
State Department of Agriculture and Markets law dictates that Dr. Daniel Melamed can have a wind turbine to produce power for his goat and sheep farm and the only aspect related to the apparatus that town officials can regulate is the height.
That is the message attorney Robert Fitzsimmons conveyed to the town's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at an April 8 special meeting called to review Dr. Melamed's area variance application and supporting documentation for relief from the town zoning law's 75-foot-height limit. The meeting was also a continued public hearing on the matter. ...Farmer Ed Hull, Dr. Melamed's neighbor, said he did not understand why the doctor could not install more solar panels to produce more power instead of installing a wind turbine. Mr. Hull said he feared the noise and vibration from the wind turbine would present health risks to him and his family.
"I live right across [from the wind turbine site]. Does one farmer trump another farmer? What if there are ill effects? Can you guarantee there will be no effects to myself or my family?" questioned Mr. Hull.
Hamlin residents weighed in on the possibility of a wind farm going up in their town. It would be the first in Monroe County.
Town officials are proposing the turbines be set 1,200 feet from homes and 600 feed from the road. Many residents say they want them at least 1,700 feet back. ..."It doesn't belong in our town," said Hamlin resident Diana Hanley. "We have a wonderful town and this is just dividing it. If something divides this many people then it cannot be right."
That is what concerns New York State Senator Jim Alesi. The republican believes wind farms would pit neighbor against neighbor and town against town. So Alesi has proposed a statewide moratorium until there is a comprehensive review.
Blades have started spinning here, as wind turbines are being placed on line.
Allison Finley, public affairs manager for Noble Environmental Power, said seven wind turbines were running this week, all in the Ellenburg Windpark.
"Right now, they are working to energize and commission the wind parks," she said. "More will come online in the following days."
Each of the 121 turbines in Ellenburg and Clinton must be synced with the grid, and electrical-collection systems need to be energized before startup. ..."If I had known they'd do all this, I never would have put so much into this place," [resident Al Barcombe] said, as blades from six turbines sliced through the air behind his barn.
"I don't think I'll stay."
Barcombe refused to sign any leases with Noble. The closest turbine is about 500 feet from his property line.
"They look closer than they really are," he said, walking toward them. "I don't see nothing beautiful about 'em."
Kingston's public health department will lobby government for more research into the health effects of wind turbines.
Dr. Ian Gemmill, Kingston's medical officer of health, says there hasn't been enough monitoring done to determine whether they're harmful.
Gemmill made the declaration at a board of health meeting this week in response to residents who live near the proposed site of a wind farm to be built on Wolfe Island.
The citizens had asked public health to assess the health risks associated with the turbines, but based on the information that is available, Gemmill said, there is nothing to indicate that wind turbines have any long-term effect on people's health.
Not there, please.
The Town Council added its voice to the discussion on the path of transmission lines from the Galloo Island Wind Project. The proposed path for the transmission line calls for it to make landfall in Henderson and run south through Ellisburg on its way to a bigger line in Parish.
At its meeting Thursday night, the council voted 4-0 for a resolution opposing the path through the town's prime agricultural lands, but supporting any efforts to find a suitable site either east or west of the proposed path.
Plans to run power from a wind turbine project in Lake Ontario through Oswego County are meeting surprise and resistance.
"It'll ruin my property value," said Kathleen Schneider, who with her husband owns 55 acres on Castor Road in Albion.
The Schneiders received a letter last month from Upstate NY Power Corp. telling them they would be contacted about selling a right of way on their land. They threw it out.
Later they learned that Upstate NY Power has applied to install 77 wind turbines on Galloo Island, 12 miles off the shore of Lake Ontario. ...Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, R-Altmar, was upset that no one involved in the project told the county. "They haven't bothered to contact us," he said.
The landscape along the rolling hills of Cohocton and nearby towns is beginning to change.
Towering windmills standing 420-feet high are beginning to emerge along the Dutch Hill ridges near Interstate Highway 390. ...Opponents charge the mammoth turbines are inefficient generators of electricity and threaten the welfare and rural character of the county.
Supporters argue the projects supply renewable energy and provide financially struggling towns with significant revenues. In Cohocton's case, town officials expect to receive $500,000 annually for the next 20 years as the projects' host.
But despite the potential financial benefits to the towns, opponents in several towns have filed lawsuits against the projects.
The sky above this rolling Mohawk Valley farmland is a battleground between golden onion-shaped domes of the nation's largest Russian Orthodox monastery and sweeping wind turbine towers intended to harvest clean power.
On Friday, a statewide historic preservation group sided with Holy Trinity Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, where monks fear a proposed wind farm a mile away will disturb contemplative religious life.
"The monastery is of extraordinary historic, religious and cultural significance, but it is currently threatened," said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League of New York State. The group named the monastery as one of its seven historic sites statewide in need of protection.
The Fallsburg Planning Board will consider granting a special permit to Sullivan County Community College to build a 250-foot tall wind turbine, despite vocal opposition at a public hearing last week. ...Two models are being considered for the propeller turbine, which would be built about 150 feet behind the main campus building, above the geothermal field. One proposed model has three blades, the other has two.
Because the two-bladed turbine would be slightly louder, engineers cited its noise levels. The center of the blades would record a decibel level of 99, on par with a chainsaw or subway.
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Though Burke has since changed the draft ordinance to extend the setback to 1,400 feet, Sullivan says Malone is hoping for more.
"We'd like to see a mile," Sullivan said in an interview Sunday. "It's based mostly on research from Europe. That's a safe distance so you don't get adverse health effects on people - migraine headaches. Sleep disorders or seizures in people who are susceptible to them." ..."I'd hate to see someone's property value drop 20 to 50 percent, and, because they don't live in the town with the towers, they would have no say," Sullivan said. "As far as I'm concerned, that's taking away someone's property without due process."
As Cohocton wind turbines are being built skyward, local projects are still on the road to final approval.
The Steuben County Industrial Development Agency will discuss projects in Cohocton and Howard at its next board meeting, Dec. 20, according to Executive Director Jim Sherron.
The board will mull over the final project resolution on the 51-turbine Cohocton and Dutch Hill projects at the meeting, and Sherron believes the board will put it to a vote. ...One project that has been quiet lately is the proposed Airtricity project in Hartsville and Hornellsville. According to Sherron and Airtricity Project Manager Bob Sherwin, the project is currently stalled.
John Rancich's proposed wind farm and set-back requirements have become issues of public interest at several town board and planning board meetings ...The wind debate in Enfield has primarily centered on the distance wind towers are set back from property lines.
"I don't think it's proper to have windmills right on property lines," Fisher said. "I think there should be sufficient set backs for safety reasons."
Just after midnight Friday, Oct. 19, Willow - one of Denise Como's whippets - barked. Denise, one of the three-person team challenging Stark town board incumbents in the Nov. 6 election, heard an engine running. A truck door slammed, and the vehicle drove off down Ellwood Road toward Salt Springville. ...Down the road in Van Hornesville, Sue Brander is fearful Como, who moved up from Lakehurst, N.J., just four years ago with her husband, Richard Whritenour, was being punished for her politics. The Brander-Como-Reichenback team grew out of the Town of Stark's support for Community Energy/Iberdrola's Jordanville Wind Project, recently reduced from 68 turbines to 49.
Landowners who stood to benefit from leases with the wind company have been irate about the opponents. "I'm saddened this has happened," said Brander. "It's certainly sobering to have a barn burned in this community under these circumstances."
The majority of the Gaines Wind Advisory Committee said at Wednesday's meeting that they don't believe wind energy is in the best interest of the Town of Gaines. ...Concerned Gaines residents filled the town hall to capacity Wednesday evening as they listened to prepared statements from each of the committee members listing worries about noise, costs, property values, vibration effects and the impact on wildlife.
Of the eight-member board, two said they would be in favor of the 400-foot wind turbines. The remaining, including alternate Ted Swierznski sitting in for Royce Klatt, voiced opposition to the towers, while acknowledging their research is incomplete. "Federal and state subsidies are the only reason wind energy is taking a foothold in this country," said advisory member Marilynn Miller.