To help the public understand more about the impacts wind developments will have on our local economies in Steuben County, the Steuben Greens have organized a panel discussion on wind issues with five local activists on Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 7:00 pm. The program will be held at 198 Main St. in Hornell.
Brad Jones from Naples will speak on his research into the promises of wind power. Steve Trude and James Hall from Cohocton will update us on the efforts of their group, Cohocton Wind Watch, to get more accountability in the DEIS process. Valerie Gardner and Jack Ossont from Yates County will discuss how their group, Democracy NY, works with local communities who want to reclaim decisionmaking powers.
“The Steuben Greens and almost everyone we’ve met in the county support the development of renewable energy sources, including wind energy,” said Joe Duffy from Hornell, chair of the Steuben Greens. “But we want to see it done in a way that is good for the environment and makes sense economically. This is most likely to happen when the decisions are made democratically by local communities. We have organized this program to give people a chance to discuss better ways to develop wind energy.”
“Communities in Steuben County are finding that the impact industrial wind developments will have on our local economies is more complicated than the rosy picture outlined by wind developers,” said Brad Jones. Currently, there are nine proposed wind farms in Steuben and Yates counties with a total of 519 wind turbines. Together, these projects will comprise the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi.”
“I am not a member of any advocacy group,” Jones said recently. “My wife Linda and I are lifelong environmentalists who are blessed to live at our conservation project adjacent to the state’s Hi Tor property. I have conducted extensive research and analysis of the wind energy developments proposed for our area in the belief that informed citizens who understand all sides of important issues will make decisions that are in the best interests of their families and their communities. I have been disappointed to discover that in nearly every case the benefits of wind energy are exaggerated while the actual risks and costs are overlooked or understated.”
“The economics at the core of these projects are government subsidies,” said James Hall from Cohocton Wind Watch. “The fact that our region does not have consistently sufficient wind velocity to make wind generation projects economically viable is being concealed from the public and from our government officials. Wind developers should be required to show that the prevailing wind patterns are sufficient before approval of a project is granted.”
“One of my fundamental objections to the wind development proposals being touted in our area by out-of-state corporate LLC shell companies is their 95% retention of cash flow revenue,” Hall added. “The insufficient revenue sharing provided in the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs being offered will cause bankruptcies in our local townships as overall revenues are reduced and real estate devaluations for individual property owners as their taxes increase.”
“The problem is compounded by the proposal to create Empire Zones and exempt developers from paying full industrial tax assessment rates,” said Steve Trude, President of Cohocton Wind Watch. “We have crunched the numbers, and this scheme gives wind developers a free ride at the expense of average citizens.”
“Look at the facts these citizens have gathered,” said Valerie Gardner, “and then look at who gets to make the decisions about the wind developments. The citizens of the communities where the projects are located should be the ones deciding, not the unelected directors and officers of out-of-state wind development corporations.” Gardner is an attorney in private practice in Penn Yan and a long term Board Member and Co-Chairperson of the Citizens Environmental Coalition. She currently serves on the coordinating committee of Democracy NY, a not-for-profit corporation founded to encourage community education through rights based organizing. Her husband, Jack Ossont is the volunteer coordinator of Democracy NY. Ossont has been an activist for over 30 years and has served in several elected and appointed political positions including county legislator, national convention delegate and political county chairperson.
Gardner and Ossont’s group organizes weekend sessions called Democracy Schools in our region. The schools were founded by historian Richard Grossman from the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD) and attorney Thomas Linzey from the Community Environmental Defense Fund (CELDF). Democracy Schools educate citizens on the evolution of undemocratic structures in our society. Grossman and Linzey have worked with over 100 townships in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in configuring local laws to permit citizens to determine health, safety and welfare issues in their communities.
The meeting is free and open to the public. There will be time for discussion following the presentations.
For more information:
Steuben Greens, http://www.steubengreens.org
Democracy School, http://www.celdf.org
Cohocton Wind Watch, http://cohoctonwindwatch.org
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding