The Renewables on the Ground Roundtable, facilitated by the Consensus Building Institute and co-chaired by the Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for Clean Energy NY, just released its final report in Albany last month. Readers beware.
I participated in most of the yearlong series of meetings. I resigned from the roundtable due to a participant’s intentional, unauthorized early release of the draft report. I implore north country readers, roundtable participants, state agencies responsible for siting renewable energy projects and those responsible for preserving Fort Drum operational airspace and radar coverage, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and all New Yorkers seeking the common good to avoid accepting the false narrative of a broad consensus in the final report. Despite the good-faith efforts of many of the roundtable participants, key questions remain.
Why was there a lack of rural upstate participation in the roundtable when it is those communities who will be facing industrial wind turbine projects? Why did the roundtable assume that every community would embrace industrial wind turbines if only they were provided enough “education”? Why wouldn’t industrial wind developers earnestly strive to earn a social license by achieving “broad stakeholder agreement” with host communities, conservationists and state agencies concerning reasonable zoning regulations, stipulations and study methodologies? What environmental and procedural justice safeguards will protect rural towns from suffering inequities in the face of poorly sited industrial wind turbine projects?
Finally, who should decide how each New York town will contribute to a more sustainable future? If your answer is the wind turbine companies and the leaseholders, then you invite division, acrimony and toxicity, and you underestimate the power of subsidiarity, home rule and — most importantly — the people.
The writer is supervisor of the town of Yates.