Comments on Wyoming County IDA Application for Financial Assistance” for the High Sheldon “Wind Farm”
“Frankly, there is very little substance in the Application. Perhaps there is a lot more someplace else; e.g., in the Environmental Impact Statements or other documents available to the IDA.
“I have written the comments broadly because I believe faulty or incomplete economic analyses of wind energy, generally, and specific “wind farms” is a generic problem in NY. Claims of economic benefit are often not backed up with data that can be evaluated or are clearly based on faulty assumptions. I would like to have pursued some of the claims (e.g., those made by the Governor, NYS PSC, NYSERDA, SCIDA, and others in more detail. However, I don’t have all the documents that would be needed and chances are good that backup analyses can’t be obtained from NYS PSC or NYSERDA without a freedom of information request that I can make (as a non-New Yorker). Time is the other problem.
“Nevertheless, I believe a close focus on economic issues is worth pursuing and hope that some one in NY can do so.”
Tom Tanton comments that the negative impact on surrounding property as an offset for the other claimed (grossly exaggerated) benefits ought to be mentioned as well. And Jon Boone would add, under Generic Problems B, language about the dearth of “value added” revenues, since only those would add to local dollars. The specialized nature of wind equipment makes it extremely unlikely that there are local retailers for it. Boone might also point out that maintenance jobs may not even be staffed by Wyoming County labor, given the number of surrounding counties, and that it is extremely unlikely that any union labor will be employed (having actually seen examples of this claim by Horizon in that area, which, of course, turned out to be bunkum).
Tom Hewson writes: “What the local jurisdiction must realize is that the single most important factor driving the on-shore project economics is the quality of the wind resources. Either they have a competitive resource or they do not, and that will be independent of a local community providing additional tax breaks. The reason that so many proposed projects have selected Wyoming County is that it has good wind resources. How about switching the tables? If this project is unwilling to pay full share, another project developer will. Second, to set a precedence of giving breaks to one project means that the next project will demand the same treatment. Third, in applying for their permit for public conveyance (from NYPSC), most claim that they are providing local economic benefits and tax revenues based upon paying their full share. Did they in this case? Why is it that this developer needs to be given special privileges not open to the small local businesses (local restaurant, corner drug store, gas station, etc.)?”
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