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Committee hears from friends, foes of wind farms

A destroyer of natural landscapes and human health, or the solution to New York’s dependence on costly fossil fuels ­— that’s how wind farms were described as both opponents and advocates took turns speaking at a hearing last Tuesday before the Assembly energy committee.

The advocates touted the use of wind power as an invaluable source of energy that would make New York State a leader in renewable energy resources.

“We all agree that rising energy prices is a problem,” said Bruce Bailey, president of AWS Truwind LLC, a firm that determines the best locations to site wind turbines. “The only way to lower that [rising cost] is investing in clean renewable energy resources.”

The hearing was held to examine the issues related to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, which was created in 2004 to address New York’s growing dependence on climate-threatening fossil fuels.

According to the New York Public Interest Research Group, wind is a form of solar energy that is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines are like an airplane’s propeller blades, which turn in the moving air and power an electric generator that then supplies an electric current. The electricity from the wind farm is then fed into the local utility grid and put into New York’s power grid for distribution to homes, businesses and institutions.

Opponents of wind energy said wind turbines have destroyed the landscapes in the state, and they called for an immediate moratorium.

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The advocates touted the use of wind power as an invaluable source of energy that would make New York State a leader in renewable energy resources.

“We all agree that rising energy prices is a problem,” said Bruce Bailey, president of AWS Truwind LLC, a firm that determines the best locations to site wind turbines. “The only way to lower that [rising cost] is investing in clean renewable energy resources.”

The hearing was held to examine the issues related to the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, which was created in 2004 to address New York’s growing dependence on climate-threatening fossil fuels.     

According to the New York Public Interest Research Group, wind is a form of solar energy that is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines are like an airplane’s propeller blades, which turn in the moving air and power an electric generator that then supplies an electric current. The electricity from the wind farm is then fed into the local utility grid and put into New York’s power grid for distribution to homes, businesses and institutions.

Opponents of wind energy said wind turbines have destroyed the landscapes in the state, and they called for an immediate moratorium.

“They are practically building these things in people’s back yards,” said Sue Brander of Stark, Herkimer County. “We need to stop the machines until we get it right.”

“I don’t support statewide moratorium on wind power,” said Assemblyman Ryan S. Karben, D,I-Monsey, chairman of the subcommittee on renewable energy.

Aaron Troodler, Karben’s chief of staff, said the assemblyman would explore the possibility of creating statewide regulations to help New Yorkers, but he does not support a moratorium because it would hinder efforts to develop renewable energy resources.

“We need to develop sensible energy for New York State to remove our reliance on traditional forms of energy,” said Troodler.

In September 2004, the state Public Service Commission finalized regulations requiring 24 percent of electricity sold in New York to come from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2013.
Approximately 17 percent of the state’s electricity already comes from hydroelectric sources.

Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, chairman of the energy committee, said, “What started out as a modest industry has ballooned … into a multibillion dollar industry.”

But the construction of wind farms has come under fire for the negative impacts opponents say they have on wildlife and human health..

“No state agency is considering the impact of wind turbines,” said Lynn Marsh of Cherry Valley, Otsego County. “Local officials are seduced by big revenue, too quick to align themselves with the developer. It would take 18,000 turbines to be spread over 1 million acres to satisfy RPS. No one is seriously looking at the environmental impact,” she said.

There are numerous wind farms in New York, including four major ones capable of generating 245 megawatts of energy a year, said Marion Trieste, a consultant for the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, which promotes clean and renewable enrgy. One megawatt can supply energy to 800 to 1,000 homes.

The Maple Ridge wind farm, located in Lewis County is one of the four and is in the first phase of operation. During this phase, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the wind farm will supply energy to 59,400 New York homes.

“Wind energy is being embraced all over the globe, New York should be no different,” said Bailey.
Wind turbine towers are approximately 260 feet tall and the blades are130 feet long and rotate at about 14 revolutions per minute.

“Here in New York wind is reducing dependence on oil,” said Robert Moore executive director of Environmental Advocates, an environmental watchdog group. “Not only does it benefit people’s pockets, but our environment. Wind turbines can and do provide energy to the power grid.”

According to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, New York is the fourth largest energy consuming state and residents pay nearly $46.6 billion for their energy, which is the third highest behind California and Texas. NYSERDA also stated that New York State imported 88 percent of its petroleum compared to the national average of 64 percent.

Fred Zalcman, executive director of the Pace Law Energy Project, said the Bush Administration abandoned protocol to lower greenhouse emissions.

“Global climate changes are one of the major devastations to mankind,” said Zalcman. “The environmental community stands behind RPS and wind power.”

Nina Pierpont of Malone, Franklin County, who describes herself as a physician-scientist, stressed the adverse effects wind turbines may have on people’s health. Pierpont cited her studies and those of two other doctors in Austria and England who are researching the effects the turbines might have on people living within 8,000 feet of wind farms.

According to Pierpont, symptoms include sleep problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea, exhaustion, anxiety, anger, depression, problems with concentration and learning, and ringing in the ears.
“I am not here to shoot down wind energy, which probably has its place, though that place is not near people’s homes or near schools, hospitals or other locations where people have to sleep and learn,” said Pierpont.

“These are not farms,” she said. “One doesn’t farm wind anymore than one farms water in a hydroelectric dam or farms neutrons in an atomic plant.”

Tom Lynch, legislative director for Tonko, said the placement of wind farms is subject to zoning and local policy.

“There is no real oversight,” said Lynch.

“I don’t think wind energy is the perfect solution or the cure, but it is a start and we have to start,” said Michael Skelly, of Horizon Winder Energy, a developer of wind power projects.


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

MAR 11 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1637-committee-hears-from-friends-foes-of-wind-farms
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