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Lawmakers letting the air out of wind power project

The possibility of the nation's first fresh water wind turbine farm located near Oswego County is turning bleak. The Joint Commission for the Preservation of Lake Ontario Communities met Thursday to discuss the project. However, no members of the agency that proposed the project were present. ..."If this project comes to fruition, we are going to have to retool our businesses," Williams said. "Because there isn't going to be any sports fishing left here. "The view would be irreparably damaged," he added.

The possibility of the nation's first fresh water wind turbine farm located near Oswego County is turning bleak.

The Joint Commission for the Preservation of Lake Ontario Communities met Thursday to discuss the project. However, no members of the agency that proposed the project were present.

Last year, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) proposed the wind project that would generate between 120-500 megawatts through the operation of turbines. The NYPA has sought to place wind turbines in water levels that are 150 feet or less.

"This zone would destroy recreational fishing in our lake and rivers, reduce property values, absolutely restrict recreational boating and sailing, and severely impact tourism through the despoliation of the numerous scenic vistas, including what we all call the second best sunset in the world," said Oswego County Legislator Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski, prior to Thursday's meeting. The legislator co-chairs the commission.

Karl Williams, president of Henderson Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, who appointed an economic development committee to take a look at projects that would affect business in the area, noted that the project would destroy the sports... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The possibility of the nation's first fresh water wind turbine farm located near Oswego County is turning bleak.

The Joint Commission for the Preservation of Lake Ontario Communities met Thursday to discuss the project. However, no members of the agency that proposed the project were present.

Last year, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) proposed the wind project that would generate between 120-500 megawatts through the operation of turbines. The NYPA has sought to place wind turbines in water levels that are 150 feet or less.

"This zone would destroy recreational fishing in our lake and rivers, reduce property values, absolutely restrict recreational boating and sailing, and severely impact tourism through the despoliation of the numerous scenic vistas, including what we all call the second best sunset in the world," said Oswego County Legislator Shawn Doyle, R-Pulaski, prior to Thursday's meeting. The legislator co-chairs the commission.

Karl Williams, president of Henderson Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce, who appointed an economic development committee to take a look at projects that would affect business in the area, noted that the project would destroy the sports fishing industry, among other sectors.

"If this project comes to fruition, we are going to have to retool our businesses," Williams said. "Because there isn't going to be any sports fishing left here.

"The view would be irreparably damaged," he added. "We already know people who are making decisions not to purchase here based on this project. If you take your best properties, which accounts for a significant portion of revenues, and you force them to be involved in the middle of an industrial complex, the people who have money will be the first to leave and the people who don't have money will be stuck."

Williams said that this would potentially lead to a rise in property taxes and would halt development in the area.

"It will be a cycle all the way to the bottom," he said.

Williams added that the wind project is not comparable to a typical business model.

"The way the wind industry works, they send developers in and they establish how they are going to go about the project," he said. "There is not a lot of information that comes to the public, and if it does come to the public it is in drips and drabs."

According to Williams, developers locate government officials in towns and villages who own property in an attempt to launch their projects on those officials' property.

"The problem gets really big when you look at this," Williams said. "These people, when they sign these contracts, they are non-disclosure agreements so they can't tell their neighbor if they signed a contract, and when they take these contracts out they take a lien against the person's property.

"Most of the public doesn't know about this, but that is how the project works," Williams said. "You don't know about the project until it is almost done. It isn't very moral, but apparently it is legal."

Last month, members of an Oswego County legislative committee voted 5-2 on a resolution expressing disapproval of the proposed NYPA project. Legislators Doug Malone, D-Oswego Town, and Jake Mulcahey, D-Oswego, voted against that resolution.

"This will put us on the map," Mulcahey said during the meeting in February.

"This puts us on a map of fools," Williams said. "I don't know of any other place that would destroy what they have to get something that they don't know what they will get.

"This is a complex issue and it requires citizens to really dig into it this," he added. "It is hard work and is an incredible project, and if people do not wake up, people are going to end up in the middle of an industrial complex and their property values are going to drop, and they are going to be stuck ... and it will be too late."

According to Drew Mangione, communications director for Sen. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, the project would not come to fruition if there is no backing for its development within the area.

"The local communities have been very outspoken and local control is essential to the senator's outlook on these projects," Mangione said. "If the local communities don't want them, it simply won't happen."

A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) noted that the department has not received a proposal by the NYPA regarding the project.

"We would expect to be involved in the environmental review process if it goes forth," said spokeswoman Maureen Wren.

Meanwhile, the nation's first water-based wind farm project appears to be set to go in Massachusetts, in Nantucket Sound. The project, which began in 2001, is expected to include 130 turbines that produce 3.6 megawatts each.

"We are on the cusp of the final permit decision on the project," said Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind Associates, which developed the project. He anticipates it to become finalized by the end of April.

"There is a fair amount of work to be done before construction begins, but things are going forward," Rodgers said.

Nantucket Sound is the body of saltwater located between the south coast of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, which is about 550 square miles. The turbines will be located in shallow water in a 25-square-mile area, where turbines would be spread out between one-third and one-half nautical miles from one another.

He noted that the information garnered for the Nantucket Sound project was drawn on the experiences of active European wind farms. There are approximately 35 such projects in Europe that are currently functioning.

"Some have exclusions zones, some don't," Rodgers said. "It seems like the trend is getting away from the exclusion zones."

He added that there were environmental impact statements that were performed to get to the point Cape Wind is today.

"Our project was probably the most studied and analyzed energy project in the history of New England of any kind," Rodgers said.

He noted that there was a citizen group in Cape Cod, called Clean Power Now, that toured European wind farms to organize plans for the project.

"A finding in the European project was that they found more sea life in the areas of the wind turbines that weren't there before," Rodgers said. "It isn't surprising when you think (about it) ... you are adding structural habitats to the area. The underwater components get covered with marine life and that attracts larger fish, so there has been a beneficial impact in that regard."

Rogers noted that the fears in Oswego County and Jefferson County mirror what has occurred in areas that were chosen for potential wind farm development.

"There are opponents of the project who voice their concern," he said. "It is just those concerns have not held up all that well under the close scrutiny after the project has gone through the environmental permitting process.

"Concerns are natural, it is not uncommon when offshore wind projects are proposed that there are those communities that have those concerns - fishing, tourism, boating, real estate values - they are valid concerns, it's just that the projects that have occurred so far, they have had a good track record," he said.

The resolution passed during the Oswego County Economic Development and Planning Committee opposing the NYPA's proposal will go in front of the full Oswego County Legislature on Thursday. According to Doyle, representatives of the NYPA, who initially planned to attend the meeting, are no longer expected.

Members of the NYPA were unavailable for comment


Source: http://palltimes.com/articl...

MAR 8 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24990-lawmakers-letting-the-air-out-of-wind-power-project
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