General and New York
Here in upstate New York it would be difficult not to notice the forests of steel, concrete and whirling blades that are materializing over vast stretches of land, often replacing forests of wood, leaves and wildlife. And so the war continues between "green" technology and the green earth. Numerous pro and con articles have appeared debating the many aspects of power produced by windmills, but even those who object to windmills concur that the power produced by them is truly "clean" energy. As a biologist and an environmentalist, I disagree.
The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency disregarded county lawmakers in resubmitting for approval the same payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for the Galloo Island wind farm, which lawmakers questioned.
The agency raised expectations that it would revise the PILOT to address growing doubts about the plan when IDA officials withdrew the proposal from consideration at a Board of Legislators meeting earlier this month. Now the same PILOT is back.
A proposed 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan for Upstate NY Power Corp. on the agenda of tonight's meeting will lower by $5 million what Upstate NY would pay under a standard 15-year PILOT. But that is only part of a very generous deal which is more beneficial to Upstate Power than to county residents, who stand to lose other revenue as well as live with the impacts of the wind farm.
With yesterday's counting of absentee ballots that pushed Urban Hirschey ahead of five-term incumbent Thomas Rienbeck, the three towns where commercial wind-development policy became something of a local referendum have sent a loud and clear message to wind farm developers and their rabid supporters: wind politics is local. ...Hammond resident Brooke Stark assessed the town election and why the incumbent board was rejected in the Nov. 4 story in the Times: "They really have done a lot," she said. "But I think they got complacent and were not interested in educating the community about something they'd already made up their minds about. They wanted the wind law to go forward and that was that. People got fed up with that, and every time we felt that our voices were being shut down, it provided more impetus to get active."
I see that the Jeff-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services received $163,760 to build a wind turbine of its very own. I know Indian River is drooling to get a wind turbine of its very own too.
Evidently this is the new must-have for schools around the north country, regardless of how local populations keep working to zone them out of their communities. It's OK though, these are small turbines. ...At that rate, it will take 26.6 years before the turbine has saved enough money to have paid for itself.
Elected town officials of Orangeville, at a special Town Board meeting Sept. 23, set aside the health, safety and welfare of the people of Orangeville, in deference to some of their own personal financial agendas in matters pertaining to zoning laws when they pushed through a proposed resolution for wind energy. ...Orangeville Supervisor Susan May, councilmen Andrew Flint, James Herman and Hans Boxler Jr. voted unanimously for 700-foot setbacks of mammoth 450-foot industrial turbines from Orangeville taxpayers' property lines (500 feet from public roads), leaving no doubt that there was little regard for the health, safety and welfare of the people who voted them into office.
The battles over wind farms in Ontario and New York state have had no shortage of press coverage. The battle lines are most often drawn between those who place a premium on scenic and historic preservation, property values and other quality-of-life factors, versus those who place a priority on the personal and municipal income the wind projects offer.
But the processes that decide these battles are seldom fair or transparent, and are skewed in favour of the few over the many.
Iberdrola is threatening to pull out because Clayton is considering very reasonable requirements that will preserve the prized qualities of the town. Iberdrola's statement is mind-boggling to me. According to the article, "Iberdrola spokeswoman Jan Johnson said the company will use Maple Ridge as the example of responsible development ...Maple Ridge is a massive, visually dominating wind project in an area that is much different in character than the St. Lawrence shore towns.
What is not being addressed in any of these debates is the larger question of what position wind power will take in the national energy production cycle. Because wind power technology has been around for a long time, it is at an advanced stage of development, and it is cheaper than solar power. Thus, it achieved a quick popularity with people seeking a quick alternative to coal and oil.
However, wind power has its own drawbacks.
The fact is that every claim made by the wind industry and its financially motivated promoters results in the very opposite effect in reality. ...After five years of researching and writing about this issue, I have not been able to substantiate a single claim developers make for industrial wind energy, including the one justifying its existence -- that massive wind installations will meaningfully reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, shutter any conventional power plants, or reduce meaningful levels of CO2 emissions.
Thirty-six speakers at Perry's Public Hearing on Horizon's Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement offered vast amounts of well-documented research related specifically to the numerous inaccuracies in Horizon's SDEIS. This in contrast to the scant dozen pro-wind speakers who said they "supported the project and the SDEIS," but provided absolutely no independent, scientific information to back up their positions.
As a taxpayer in the town of Hammond I am very disturbed about how the issue of industrial wind turbines in our town will be decided. ...Councilman Ronald Tully II, Councilman James Langtry and Supervisor Janie G. Hollister have a potential conflict of interest here, as they all either directly own property, or have relatives who own parcels of land (or both), in the town that falls within Hammond's wind overlay zone that are large enough to erect many of these proposed turbines.
Former Perry Supervisor, now Horizon salesperson, Anne Humphrey's ad in last week's Perry Shopper was just more of the same typical of Big Wind sales pitches. Bless her heart, Ms. Humphrey is only saying what she needs to say to keep her job.
We found it particularly amusing that Ms. Humphrey said, "It's not all about the money," yet, that's ALL she talked about. She said "it's about what is right for the environment," yet didn't say a single word to substantiate how so.
AWEA CEO Denise Bode seems mildly disappointed by the numbers. Citing a slowdown in manufacturing of turbine components, Bode described the industry as "swimming upstream."
The contrary current may get even stronger if my recent visit to upstate New York is any indication. Arriving for a family visit, I found that I'd landed in the midst of an uproar over wind farms, both built and proposed.
Let's be perfectly clear. The only way to "mitigate" problems associated with industrial wind turbines is to make sure the projects do not go up within residential areas in the first place.
As reported in a recent Daily News letter ("Think big on wind energy" by David Bassett, May 20, 2009) , the U.S. Department of Energy admitted when these immense machines were being developed that they were intended for placement in the remote, unpopulated areas of the Midwest, and offshore -- not amongst rural/residential areas like that of WNY.
Petitions are being circulated in the town of Cape Vincent calling for a one-year town-wide moratorium on any wind farm development. The petition is calling on the Cape Vincent town officials to enact such a moratorium to thoroughly examine wind farm zoning regulations appropriate for the health, safety and welfare of all the residents of the community as well as the aesthetic impacts to the town and 1000 Islands region.
The line _ intended to provide more electrical power to New York City _ would not only have marred large tracts of upstate landscape and had a deleterious effect upon the environment, but would actually have raised electricity rates for those of us who live near where the line would have been built.
After a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruling went against NYRI in March, it withdrew its application ...On June 9, NYRI requested a time extension to file comments with FERC to appeal its ruling. The firm has until July 9 to provide additional comments.
On Thursday, May 7, the Orangeville Town Board held a public hearing on its proposed changes to their zoning laws. Over 200 people were estimated to be in attendance at the three-hour hearing.
Despite the Wyoming County Planning Board's recommendation that Orangeville address the section specific to Wind Energy Conversion Systems (WECS) in a separate law, the Orangeville Town Board chose to ignore the county's recommendation. Predictably, the hearing became entirely about the wind issue.