Discussions are beginning in the Westfield and Ripley area on the harnessing of wind energy.
On Friday, County Executive Greg Edwards announced a meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Westfield High School to discuss efforts to potentially harness wind energy that comes off Lake Erie. The regional initiative is being co-hosted by Edwards and the towns of Westfield and Ripley.
“˜”˜This will allow the towns to investigate the possibilities,” Edwards said. “˜”˜This is the beginning of discussion of a potential business model.”
The speakers will be Tom Golisano, chairman, and Keith Pitman, president and chief executive officer, of Empire State Wind Energy, LLC.
“˜”˜After some initial discussion the leadership in Ripley and Westfield wanted a forum to permit their residents to hear about this approach, and we thought other towns would want to hear it, too, particularly those in the north county where wind energy – renewable, green energy – is viable,” Edwards said. “˜”˜Economic development here is critical, and low-cost electric for our industries coupled with dollars flowing directly into our towns, rather than going elsewhere, are stepping stones for economic development.Ã®
Empire State Wind Energy, LLC, made the following statements regarding its philosophies on developing community wind projects.
“˜”˜We will only build projects that are acceptable and beneficial to overall community stakeholders, not projects which simply deliver large financial benefits to only a few “˜lucky’ landowners,” Empire State Wind Energy stated.
Acceptable projects could range from the fractional megawatt variety to major regional multi-megawatt ventures, the company stated.
“˜”˜We will offer communities 100 percent profit taking and ownership options at mutually agreeable predetermined times (for example, five-year, 10-year, and 20-year milestones). We will take the risk; up-front development costs are enormous and place the investor at significant risk. We will put assurances in place to see to it that if our projects meet financial distress, you are not left with eyesores and decommissioning costs. We will only ask for (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes) agreements to the extent that they are absolutely necessary to make an overall project viable. We will be participating in the wholesale and retail energy markets and can offer price stable retail energy supply to local users,” Empire State Wind Energy stated.
The Chautauqua County Citizens for Responsible Wind Power issued a statement after Edwards’ news conference saying it welcomes the county’s role in facilitating regional discussion of wind power.
“˜”˜The CCCRWP is very interested in participating in the discussion,” said Claire Quadri, CCCRWP chairwoman. “˜”˜We were very pleased to hear in the county executive’s news conference that Empire State Wind Energy is sensitive to the way proposed wind projects can disrupt communities and degrade their natural resources.”
During the last four years, the CCCRWP has vigorously opposed an industrial wind turbine project in the towns of Ripley and Westfield that was proposed to be located inappropriately in a residential area of great scenic beauty, near at least two successful bald eagle nests and in the middle of an important migration flyway.
More than 20 major environmental organizations supported the CCCRWP in their opposition to the project’s location, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Nature Conservancy, National Audubon, New York State Audubon, Jamestown Audubon, Roger Tory Peterson Institute Ornithological Club, Lake Erie Bird Club and Nature Sanctuary Society of Western New York.
County legislator Scot Stutzman, I-Jamestown, said he is pleased with the county executives announcement of an upcoming wind energy forum.
“˜”˜As the chair of the county’s Energy Committee, I am excited about the way in which the county executive has embraced alternative fuels by hosting an upcoming wind energy forum,” he said.
By Dennis Phillips
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding