ITHACA – Cornell University decided not to proceed with its wind energy project on Mount Pleasant after more than four months of preparing to study the feasibility of eight 400-foot wind turbines.
At a meeting Thursday night with residents in the area, Cornell announced it intentions. It followed that meeting with a press release sent out late Friday afternoon.
A host of issues and unanswerable concerns led to the decision, according to Simeon Moss, director of Cornell’s press office.
"We are not going to put up a tower at this time," Moss said. "There were a number of issues that came up, there was the question of land use, view sheds, the regulatory environment that’s out there. To go forward in such an uncertain environment doesn’t make sense."
While the tower, which was to house meteorological measuring equipment, will not be built, Cornell said it will go ahead with a bird and bat study of the area. No effective analysis of the potential impact of wind turbines on avian populations exists and Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology will continue with their plan to evaluate populations in the area. The lab hopes to use bioacoustics instead of radar to determine avian patterns on a portion of Mt. Pleasant.
Residents in the area said they are pleased with the decision. They had organized a petition with over 300 signatures protesting the project.
"I can sum up in one word the feeling in the room when they made their announcement – ‘elation,’" John Semmler, a
, resident said. "We were all just so relieved that they’ve realized that this was not a viable option for Mount Pleasant."
His sentiments were echoed by a neighbor.
"We were surprised and gratified," said Stuart Davis. "They thought things over carefully, listened to community concerns and decided in favor of environmental policies and being a good neighbor."
Residents were also concerned about property values and the strobe effect from the blades and resulting impact on the wildlife in the area.
One of the issues in the mix was the proximity of the towers to the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport in the Village of Lansing. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates obstructions within a certain radius of an airport, disallowing towers of over 500-feet within five miles of an airport. The proposed site was about four miles away and would have held eight 400-foot towers.
"They were certainly a concern," said Robert Nicholas, airport manager. "It seems they weighed proximity with a couple of other issues and decided it was too big a hill to climb."
Cornell said, while it is not considering other sites at this time, it still hopes to pursue alternative energies and hopes the decision will lead to a discussion of the pros and cons of wind power in the community.