September 20, 2006
New York

Wayne County, Golisano mull wind power

Wayne County leaders will continue to discuss whether to delve into the wind power business with billionaire Tom Golisano.

Golisano and his newly formed company, Empire State Wind Energy LLC, have been talking with communities across upstate New York in recent months about taking the issue of wind farms into their own hands.

The goal, Golisano said, is to provide financial and technical support to communities so they, rather than outside private companies, would be in control of where wind farms are located – and potentially reap the profits of energy distribution.

About 400 people attended a town meeting Monday to hear from Golisano and company officials about the idea. Specifics have yet to be outlined.

“If a community decides that they are going to have them, they should try to maximize the benefit for their community,” Golisano said Tuesday.

Lyons Mayor Corrine Kleisle said no decisions have been made on the idea or where turbines might go.

Wind power could provide vast savings in energy costs, which would be attractive for businesses, Kleisle said.

“I think it’s very important to provide alternative energy sources to the state,” she said. “We need to be able to project our energy costs. Hopefully, we could have lower costs for years.”

The village of Lyons passed zoning ordinances this summer in anticipation of the turbines, and an alternative Energy Task Force was formed this year to study the issue.

Golisano, the founder of Penfield-based Paychex Inc., has been critical of wind farm projects. He has argued that a state-backed plan to add hundreds, possibly thousands, of huge wind turbines would infringe on homeowners and mar the countryside.

Instead Golisano, who has a home on Canandaigua Lake, has developed the idea that communities themselves or his new company would own the wind farms and benefit from the proceeds. The plan is that money would go back to the communities and help offset taxes. Also, towns would have greater control over where wind turbines, as tall as 400 feet, would be located.

by Joseph Spector and Alan Morrell, Staff writers

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