January 1, 2003

Protect Buffalo’s waterfront from wind turbines

This letter is in response to an article in a recent issue of  “Art Voice” magazine advocating the use of wind turbines along Buffalo’s waterfront, supposedly to clean up the environment, change the city’s image, and make lot’s of money at the same time. 


 It certainly is true, that as the owner of commercial wind turbines, Buffalo would indeed make a ton of money.  The opportunity to cash in is equal for all developers of wind farms these days.  Fueled by subsidies, grants and credits from the government (derived out of our tax dollars), the potential for a ‘wind fall’ from wind development is almost guaranteed.  And let’s not forget the mandates imposed on government entities requiring them to purchase the more expensive ‘renewable’ energy.  The extra cost is, of course, again passed on to the taxpayers.  So yes, Buffalo does stand to profit handsomely, as do all owners of wind farms, by taking the dollars out of our pockets and depositing them directly into their own. 
Indeed the opportunities are exciting to the well-financed entrepreneur.  But please let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that our environment is the driving force behind this industry!


 Acknowledged energy expert, Glenn Schleede, president of Energy Market and Policy Analysis, Inc. and past Executive Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, says in a recent report, “Five new proposed wind farms in NY state, together with three existing “farms”, will produce just 58/100’s of 1% of the electricity used in the state during the year 2000”.  He goes on to say… “Developers do not take into account (when stating their environmental benefits) the fossil fueled generating units which are kept available to back up the intermittent electricity from wind farms which will be giving off emissions while running at less than peak efficiency or in spinning reserve”, reducing claims of emission savings significantly.   In fact, when all is taken into consideration: manufacture…development…maintenance…and constant fossil fuel back up, perhaps there is no real savings at all.  That would explain why during the industry’s twenty-year history, there has not been one single fossil fuel electricity generating plant in the world that has been able to shut down because of the contribution made by the wind.    Accordingly, our tolerance of this industry in our society will not be rewarded by less dependence on foreign oil… not now or anytime in the near future.


So what are the true contributions of the wind industry?  We have electricity that is too expensive to solve any real energy issues, and very little of it besides.  We have little, if any, emissions reduction.  We have the destruction of pristine landscapes and waterfronts all over the world due to the careless placement of massive, inefficient wind turbines… (a phenomenon that is just beginning to frighteningly snowball here in the U.S), and we have a big money making scheme for those who can afford to cash in.  We also have one more thing… the deterioration in the quality of life for those unfortunate enough to find themselves and their neighborhoods targets of the uncaring developers who bully their way into communities and into people’s lives.


Having to live too near a wind farm is to live a degraded and oppressed existence. In my sister’s hometown of Sardinia, N.Y. they have an even more nightmarish situation in which a wind developer, Zilkha Renewable Energies, has proposed to turn half the town into a wind farm, caring little about the 400 families who currently reside in their proposed ‘impact area’.   Profound problems including unnatural and invasive noise, flicker from the spinning blades…(creating a strobe effect in nearby homes), and shadow from the constant visually disturbing sweep of the blades that cover an area of a football field with blade tips that travel between 100 and 200 mph, will make life unbearable for many.  The areas sought out for development are all too often peaceful, tranquil places with communities whose residents have made their homes there for just those very reasons.


The devastating impacts and loss in quality of life could be avoided if wind developers worked within ethical guidelines.  However, because such guidelines usually don’t exist, they can and do get away with almost anything they think necessary to make their projects more profitable. Supporting agencies such as NYSERDA and The Energy Development and Planning Board of Erie County refuse to address or even acknowledge that problems exist.  Their support insures that people will continue to suffer.  Zilkha, for instance, has strong backing from Erie County with regards to their offer of $100,000 a year to the town of Sardinia, which would give them the privilege of compromising the health, safety, and security of hundreds of residents by surrounding the quiet rural community with over 30 massive turbines, complete with constant noise, flashing lights, and all standing 150’ taller than the Statue of Liberty… an offer which the town is unbelievably considering!      


I encourage anyone with the ability to think for themselves, to access the information available to all, and not be duped into believing that the wind industry is anything more than simply a money maker for it’s investors.  If one truly cares about the environment, then one has a moral obligation to see that thoughtful and sensitive choices are made that insures its survival.  No truly environmentally minded industry would expect that such losses in quality of life be tolerated, only to profit handsomely from the sacrifices.


Matthew Holota had it right when he started off his article by extolling the financial benefits to the city.  The problem lies in the lack of foresight and the probable future of the wind industry.  Experts in their fields of energy and health along with environmentalists from around the world are coming together to pressure the wind industry to act responsibly.
…but it will take time, and hopefully in ten or fifteen years, my old hometown of Buffalo and it’s waterfront won’t be littered with hundreds of abandoned wind turbines instead of just a few old granaries.  You think its image is bad now!

Sue Sliwinski, Sardinia (NY)

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2003/01/01/protect-buffalos-waterfront-from-wind-turbines/