Wind farm opposition calls on Cuomo to help protect Niagara air base.
Save Ontario Shores, the grassroots organization fighting the possible siting of an industrial-scale wind farm near the Lake Ontario shoreline in the Barker-Lyndonville area, has paid for two billboards near Niagara Falls Boulevard and Walmore Road to support its cause.
The billboards call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect the nearby Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on Lockport Road in Niagara Falls.
Save Ontario Shores was founded in January of 2015, after word got out about preliminary plans by Apex Clean Energy LLC to develop "Lighthouse Wind," an up-to-70-turbine wind energy installation. The turbines' potential height is believed to be in excess of 600 feet.
SOS President Pam Atwater says there would be adverse aesthetic, environmental and economic effects if the turbines go up.
The billboards say: “Gov. Cuomo — don’t let Apex gamble with our air base.” Atwater said on Friday that the group has not heard from him.
Virginia-based Apex spokesman Brooke Beaver dismissed SOS' message to Cuomo as a case of "fearmongering."
“The continued fearmongering regarding a potential BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure round) is unfounded and sensationalized. SOS is clearly questioning the authority and expertise of the U.S. military in reviewing renewable energy projects and their impact on military installations,” Beaver said in a written statement. “DoD’s Siting Clearinghouse, which reviews wind projects for mission and safety compatibility, is managed by the same assistant secretary of defense who manages BRAC.”
The review process was designed so that U.S. defense department-approved wind farms would not negatively affect a base during BRAC, according to Beaver.
The SOS billboards went up last week. Atwater declined to say what they cost, while hastening to add that the group has many local donors who believe in its cause and support it monetarily.
SOS has “a lot of local supporters who are very generous,” Atwater said. “We’re very lucky there are so many people who are concerned about this issue.”
The preliminary proposal for Lighthouse Wind calls for up to 70 turbines to be erected along a 12-mile swath of farm land in the towns of Somerset and Yates. Atwater cited multiple surveys done in both towns suggesting that most residents are opposed. The towns themselves, as well as Niagara and Orleans counties, have weighed in against the development.
“This would have a huge impact on the character and rural nature of the community. There are concerns related to the air base and the noise,” Atwater said. “From people who have lived around industrial wind turbines around the world, they’ve had various health ailments. The wind industry denies it. There’s so much information out there that it can’t be discounted. ... This is also a tourist area, and this could have significant impact on desirability in the whole region.”
SOS has not hired any experts to defend its claims, Atwater said. Instead, “we’re raising the question and we just want people to be aware of concerns.”
Atwater said she believes that if the wind farm is constructed, "it very well could be the death knell for the base. It’s just common sense to me that if you start to put huge structures around something, it’s going to have an impact.”
Cuomo’s media office did not return a call for comment on SOS' message on Friday.