It’s an issue that is cutting through upstate New York, much like the blades on wind turbines slice through the sky. Should these creators of energy be put up in our communities? Near our homes? In places where many go just to relax?
“I always thought that motherhood, apple pie, and clean energy would be in the same category that no on would ever object to. What I’ve discovered is that there is always a small number of people that object to even what appears to be some of the best ideas,” says Patrick Doyle, Development Director for Horizon Wind Energy.
In the Wyoming County town of Perry, Horizon Wind Energy wants to put up a wind farm. It would have 60 turbines on over 7300 acres of land.
Right now, the town is gathering input on the idea from residents.
But the effect the very idea has had here, is evident everywhere you go.
“It’s like they’re over-running the town. They have split the town down the middle. There are fathers and sons not speaking, sisters and brothers,” says Perry Resident Valerie Sahrle.
When she first heard about the plans, she formed the group called, “Citizens for a Healthy, Rural Community.” Her goal is to stop Horizon’s plans. “It’s big money. But at the same time, the average person is getting nothing out of it. We are going to suffer because of the value of our homes is going right down,” she says.
The reason for the drop in value? Sahrle says no one would want to buy a home that looks out on wind turbines. But for some others in town the view would be perfect.
“I think Perry needs something like this and that’s what I’ve been trying to convince the town. They do need it; there’s nothing in Perry. No industry, no nothing, taxes keep going up, people moving out. Something’s got to turn it the other way,” says Don Clark.
Don and Sue Clark, wear their opinions on their “Got Wind” shirts. They’ve been approached by Horizon Wind Energy and want to put some turbines on their farm. It would mean an added income for them, but there’s pressure from those who disagree.
“We’ve been threatened a couple of times,” Sue says. “We have some nasty neighbors right now, nasty neighbors and a majority of them are people who do not have enough land to put the wind mills on.”
Currently there are four wind farms located in upstate New York.
But a number of companies are looking to put up more. 45 different sites are being examined right now. Governor Pataki wants the state to get 25% of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2013.
“Wind is probably going to be major contributor to renewable energy,” says Joseph Visalli, Ph.D., P.E. of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Making these turbines something that cannot be ignored.
“There’s no question we’re going to have wind turbines in upstate New York. The question is who owns them? How many are we going to have? And who controls where they are placed?” says Tom Golisano.
Recently much attention has been focused on the Rochester Billionaire and his stance on this controversial issue. At first, he spoke out against the wind farms. “I was concerned about quality of life and people’s life being effected,” says Golisano.
But now, he has formed the company, Empire State Wind Energy.
He’s been making the rounds across upstate, pitching his plans. So far about 20 communities have wanted to listen.
“What I’m proposing is that our local communities, those that want wind turbines and think it’s a good idea for their community, become the owners of these wind turbines instead of these other organizations. Therefore that community, that’s going to have the wind turbines, can enjoy the large financial benefits that comes out of ownership. It’s very simple,” he adds.
Golisano’s company would finance and build the wind turbines. Then after about ten years, when their incentives go away, they’d turn the project over to the community. He believes it’s a way to harness the power of the wind, without breaking apart the communities that live down below.
(Katrina Irwin, WROC-TV)
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