Articles filed under Energy Policy from New York
State Department of Agriculture and Markets law dictates that Dr. Daniel Melamed can have a wind turbine to produce power for his goat and sheep farm and the only aspect related to the apparatus that town officials can regulate is the height. That is the message attorney Robert Fitzsimmons conveyed to the town's Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) at an April 8 special meeting called to review Dr. Melamed's area variance application and supporting documentation for relief from the town zoning law's 75-foot-height limit. The meeting was also a continued public hearing on the matter. ...Farmer Ed Hull, Dr. Melamed's neighbor, said he did not understand why the doctor could not install more solar panels to produce more power instead of installing a wind turbine. Mr. Hull said he feared the noise and vibration from the wind turbine would present health risks to him and his family. "I live right across [from the wind turbine site]. Does one farmer trump another farmer? What if there are ill effects? Can you guarantee there will be no effects to myself or my family?" questioned Mr. Hull.
New York State's Article X expired January 1, 2003, forcing power companies and developers to seek permits through local town zoning laws for electric generating projects. ...Article X essentially would allow the state to bypass town zoning laws, creating more of a freeway of access to building power projects. Clayton Town Supervisor Justin Taylor said that while Article X addresses all power supply companies, not specifically wind farms, it should be up to local governments to decide how to manage proposed projects since they will be the ones who will have to live with them.
High costs aren't the only problem facing New Yorkers. They also must worry whether the lights will stay on. Recently, the state's power-grid operator predicted looming shortages unless the state builds more power plants over the next decade to meet rising demand. That's no easy feat. With the 2003 expiration of Article X of the Public Service Law, which streamlined the permitting process for building large power plants, it now can take more than five years for a proposed plant to get built. Consequently, few investors are lining up to build the plants New York needs. The Spitzer administration favored an extension of Article X but with a green twist. The law, Spitzer said, must exclude nuclear and coal-fired plants. Such provisions may please environmental groups, but it won't do anything to help add the 2,750 megawatts needed to maintain the reliability of the New York grid by 2017.
PSC staffers, who make recommendations to the commissioners, have been negotiating with Iberdrola and Energy East over a deal that would give New York consumers benefits such as rate decreases. After talks broke down last Wednesday, the case went before an administrative law judge who will make his own recommendation to the PSC. Hearings before the judge, Rafael Epstein, began Monday. Iberdrola made the concessions to PSC staff Friday in hopes they could "narrow the issues" prior to the hearings. One of those concessions is to agree to sell all of Energy East's fossil fuel power plants in New York. The PSC has been calling on Iberdrola to get out of all power generation in New York, including wind farm projects it already has in place.
The project, proposed for Galloo Island, located in the Jefferson County Town of Hounsfield, would require power lines to come ashore off Lake Ontario in Henderson and travel south through Oswego County to Parish. Oswego County legislators have received telephone calls from angry constituents who received letters requesting the sale of right-of-ways or face eminent-domain proceedings. Upstate NY Power, the company sending the letters, has applied to install 77 wind turbines in Jefferson County. Legislators said they were caught off guard by their constituents because, until the calls, they had no knowledge about the proposed project.
Agricultural landowners along the western edge of Oswego and Jefferson counties will have the chance next week to learn more about a proposed electrical transmission line project at a meeting in Pulaski. ...Local landowners were contacted earlier this year, by agents representing Upstate NY Power, about selling rights-of-way for a proposed 230-kilovolt power line. The company is backed by Babcock & Brown, an international operation that owns 20 wind farms in nine states. Upstate NY Power has applied to install 77 wind turbines on Galloo Island, 12 miles off the shoreline of Lake Ontario.
"The purpose of the workshop is to inform agricultural landowners about issues related to new transmission lines, such as routing and structure type, and impacts to farm operations," said Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, District 4, Parish and Amboy. Leemann said that landowners in Oswego and Jefferson counties have been contacted by land agents representing Upstate NY Power Corporation, indicating the company's interest in buying a right-of-way for a transmission line. The line would run from the Town of Hounsfield in Jefferson County to Parish, and would carry power generated at a wind farm planned for Galloo Island.
Supervisor Keith Batman is looking for town residents to serve on a committee concerning wind farms and wind energy. At a recent town board meeting, a resident wondered if the town was moving too fast on the wind farm issue, stating more research was needed. Shell WindEnergy Group is going to be putting up two to four temporary towers in Scipio to take wind measurements with the hopes of putting up a wind farm in the future. Batman said the company has filed an application to put up the first test tower on Skillet Road between Wycoff Road and Route 34 in the northern part of the town. The temporary test towers will be about 100 feet tall. "This is a complex issue with lots of ramifications for our town," Batman said. "We have to research it carefully and understand it fully."
I continue to be amazed, and alarmed, by decisions being made in regard to industrial wind installations without the foreign-owned developers first being required to provide proof of all of their claims. It has always been my understanding that good common sense business practices dictate that responsible persons first demand proof of claims being made before jumping into business with anyone, and then seek competitive bids in order to assure the absolute best service, goods, and financial agreement possible for the person, community, and/or entire region entering into these business deals. To date, neither has happened in the case of industrial wind energy development in Western New York. Sadly, what we are left with is the looming industrialization of our countrysides, the apparent indifference as to whether wind actually does what it claims or not, and many other unanswered questions.
There are so many other questions out there that need national answers. Are biofuels in general really worth the cost to the environment and the economy? Does wind power cut it when you compare the rising cost of oil with the construction costs of a large scale wind farm? Can we make more effective use of photovoltaics, lowering the price and producing solar energy in bulk for the grid? And, how much do we need to spend on energy efficiency to make it really effective without blowing a gaping hole in our gas and electric bills? This nation will be better served if our candidates spend more time proposing the development of a national Green Energy Agenda. Simply saying you're Green doesn't make it so.
New York's ambitious plan to rely on windmills, hydropower and other renewable energy sources for a quarter of its electricity by 2013 is a bit behind schedule and short on funds. The money consumers pay through their electric bills to help support projects like wind farms is simply not enough to meet the goals set out in 2004, according to Spitzer administration officials. They say they want to see the program fully funded -- a move that would likely cost consumers slightly more. ...Gavin Donohue, executive director of the Independent Power Producers of New York, said ...Eliot Spitzer is left trying to meet an aggressive target set by his predecessor that is both complicated and expensive. "I don't think we should give up striving for it," he said. "But I don't think we're as far along as some would paint the picture."
Three Democratic New York House members have written to the state Public Service Commission urging it to rule as incomplete NYRI's recent application re-filing because it lacks a thorough examination of the Thruway alternative for routing the company's 190 mile power line.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on Iberdrola SA to create a trust fund to offset rate increases to consumers if it succeeds in acquiring Energy East Corp. Schumer's call to action comes as Iberdrola and state regulators are involved in talks to see if they can reach a settlement on the $4.5 billion merger. ...Schumer is also advocating that Iberdrola be allowed to retain its wind farm assets in the state. Iberdrola, the largest wind energy developer in the world, is a part owner of Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, the largest wind farm in the state, and is developing more.
New York lawmakers want the Empire State to be a renewable energy role model for the rest of the nation. Members of the state's Renewable Energy Task Force insist that environmentally friendly initiatives need to be economically viable also. Carol Murphy, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York explains, "Simply put: unless we make it easier to build clean-energy facilities, they will not get built in New York."
"While renewable energy technologies can be more expensive than conventional sources in the first instance, the environmental, economic growth and public health benefits from their use justify the public investment," the Paterson report states flat-out. I would argue that this statement should be viewed as a working hypothesis, and doesn't deserve yet to be considered a proven fact. How expensive is too expensive? Which conventional sources? Some are far more polluting than others, for example. That quote from the report shows us the zeal of the alternative energies movement. With that zeal comes a touch of arrogance, because if you read through the Paterson report recommendations, there are thinly veiled justifications for running roughshod over local zoning and the opinions of those who actually have to live with solar panels, wind turbines or whatever. "The greater good" argument is just beneath the surface, and that makes me very nervous.
It's a race against the clock for leaders in Hamlin. Town supervisor Denny Roach hoped to have regulations for wind turbines in place earlier this month. On Tuesday morning, Roach says it could be another two months before the board sets standards. ...The Senate and Assembly are expected to take action on what is called Article X. The legislation would streamline the approval process for electric generating facilities, like wind farms, that exceed a power threshold of 30-thousand kilowatts. Article X could possibly affect all municipalities in the state. "It could allow for municipalities that have regulations in effect to grandfather those regulations, and allow us to keep them," Roach said, "or it could pre-empt us."
West has been trying for about three years to put her own personal wind turbine in her backyard, but she has run into some surprising obstacles and last month put up the only structure she has been able to erect so far -- a wind-monitoring tower. ...Park agency officials take the view that, regardless of purpose, a wind turbine is a structure taller than 40 feet. And the towers policy is meant to support the overall purpose of the APA, which, according to the Adirondack Park Agency Act, is to "insure optimum overall conservation, protection, preservation, development and use of the unique scenic, aesthetic, wildlife, recreational, open space, historic, ecological and nature resources of the Adirondack Park." Beautiful views have an economic effect, McKeever argues.
The last objection to a Spanish power company's proposed $4.6 billion acquisition of the regional utility Energy East Corp. is from New York regulators who question the deal's promise to stabilize rates, boost the upstate economy, and generate more wind power. Public hearings on the proposal end this week in upstate New York. In January, Maine's regulator signed off on the sale of Energy East to Iberdrola SA. The deal would affect 3 million customers from upstate New York to Maine and would put Rochester Electric and Gas Corp. and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. under foreign ownership.
Iberdrola SA, the Spanish utility seeking to acquire Energy East Corp. for $4.5 billion, is the largest wind power developer in the world. ...But research by the Times Union has found that even without the Iberdrola merger, nearly 7,000 megawatts of wind power could be in the pipeline through more than five dozen potential projects in the state. A 2005 study by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority found that the state could handle 3,300 megawatts of wind power -- about 10 percent of the state's peak need -- without seriously upgrading its transmission or operational infrastructure.
Proposals to have Niagara County join a move toward "green" energy are making their way through the County Legislature. Measures recommended by the Working Families Party and introduced by six lawmakers call for pledging Niagara County to buying a fixed percentage of any wind-generated electricity produced in the county. Also proposed is a law that would require the county to buy federally certified energy saving products, such as appliances, when available. ..."There is definitely an up-front cost, but we see long-term benefits," Thampi said.