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Anti-wind power group says New Yorkers are unfairly taxed

Handing out packets of Lipton tea and slices of sugared ginger, a group of anti-wind farm residents from areas in rural New York staged their own “Albany Tea Party” last week, calling a surcharge on electricity bills “taxation without representation.”

The group demanded the Legislature take control of the renewable energy program, which requires 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2013. The mandatory System Benefit Charge is expected to bring in $24 million and will be used to develop wind energy programs.

“What brings us together is the passionate love for the countryside in which we live,” said Ruth Matilsky, a resident of Prattsburgh in Steuben County. “We want our tax dollars to be spent on a renewable program that will actually decrease emissions and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. We don’t want green window dressing.”

According to Matilsky, these taxes have not been approved by state legislators and will go directly to the New York State Energy Research Development Authority, which doesn’t regulate the projects. Therefore, she said there is no legal oversight for the state’s various wind energy projects.

Terry Matilsky, a professor of physics at Rutgers University, said he and his wife are not against renewable energy, but said the state needs to find an effective alternative. A downside to wind turbines is that they need to have some kind of backup when the wind stops.

Additionally, no coal plants are... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The group demanded the Legislature take control of the renewable energy program, which requires 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2013. The mandatory System Benefit Charge is expected to bring in $24 million and will be used to develop wind energy programs.

“What brings us together is the passionate love for the countryside in which we live,” said Ruth Matilsky, a resident of Prattsburgh in Steuben County. “We want our tax dollars to be spent on a renewable program that will actually decrease emissions and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. We don’t want green window dressing.”

According to Matilsky, these taxes have not been approved by state legislators and will go directly to the New York State Energy Research Development Authority, which doesn’t regulate the projects. Therefore, she said there is no legal oversight for the state’s various wind energy projects.

Terry Matilsky, a professor of physics at Rutgers University, said he and his wife are not against renewable energy, but said the state needs to find an effective alternative. A downside to wind turbines is that they need to have some kind of backup when the wind stops.

Additionally, no coal plants are being shut down as a result of the construction of the turbines.

“If instead of industrial towers, you subsidized local homeowners with smaller, low voltage, low wattage turbines, you will avoid almost all of the problems that these colossal machines generate,” the professor said. “The environmental impacts will be minimized, and you could actually pull entire towns off the grid.”

The coalition took issue with other aspects associated with wind farms aside from the extra tax, which is between 5 and 15 cents a month.

Andy Minnig of Cherry Valley in Otsego County said that in addition to being an eyesore in a previously untouched and unspoiled part of the state — the turbines stand around 420 feet tall with rotors 270 feet across — the effective capacity of an inland site is far less than turbines located offshore.

There was also discussion of the various risks that come with living near a wind turbine. According to the anti-turbine group, the rotating blades are said to cause nausea and anxiety while the low frequency of the spinning can cause headaches and sleeplessness. During the winter there is the threat of ice being flung off the arms. Birds and bats are also at risk of getting caught in the rotors.

Anne Britton, a resident of Brandon in Franklin County, is upset about what the construction of wind farms could do to a town like hers.

Britton said many of the roads in Brandon were not able to handle large vehicles and would not be repaired after construction. She also said the wind companies are promising the creation of jobs and tourism, although there will only be about four permanent jobs, and Brandon currently has no hotels or stores.

“The quality of life in my community is not for sale,” she said.

Several other environmental groups support wind power, and on Jan. 31 they sent a letter to several legislators asking them to support the development of clean energy sources, including wind power.

“One of the most difficult parts about this is that we sometimes find ourselves at odds with groups we usually support and give money to,” said Ruth Matilsky who is also a Prattsburg resident.

Anna Giovinetto, director of renewable energy at Noble Environmental Power, was outside the event handing out “Support Wind Energy” magnets. She disputes what was said at the press conference and said most residents are in favor of wind farms. According to her, a recent poll of New York’s north country showed that 70 percent of its residents approve of wind farms. Giovinetto also called the 10 percent efficiency statistic ridiculous.

“The object is to build turbines where there is strong wind,” she said.
Giovinetto also refuted the claims about environmental and local impact. She said the companies would provide the towns with better roads, 100 jobs during construction and 11 after, and about $1.3 billion in direct investments in the communities. While birds and bats would be somewhat affected, cats and cars are far more harmful than the turbines, she said.


Source: http://www.legislativegazet...

FEB 19 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1377-anti-wind-power-group-says-new-yorkers-are-unfairly-taxed
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