The Wind Energy Conference at Herkimer County Community College brought together five different speakers with different experiences with wind energy and was attended by over 100 local residents and community leaders.
Steve Sullivan of the Alliance for Clean Energy said he wanted to speak at the conference to provide listeners with good solid information.
“There are so many misconceptions out there that people have a tendency to stick too, but we need to get the true information out there,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said wind power is not perfect, but it is the best choice we know now.
He said the state’s population has grown stagnant, but energy demands keep increasing.
“The reality is we all use more electricity, we have bigger homes, we all have informational devices and our standard of living has increased,” said Sullivan.
He said $6.7 billion from New York goes out of state for energy demands and New Yorkers have to find ways to keep that money in state.
Sullivan said the price for wind energy is decreasing and the state could save $500 million a year by producing more wind power.
He added that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“You can see them, which upsets some people, but that’s it, when I see them, I see no emissions coming off of them,” said Sullivan.
Michael Behrmann of the New York State Public Interest Research Group said the state is facing some serious problems.
Behrmann said 52 percent of the state’s power comes from traditional sources, such as burning fuels, 29 percent is from nuclear energy and the remaining 19 percent is from natural means, mostly hydropower.
“The pollutants from traditional energy have caused many areas in the state to have poor air quality, which results in 1,200 premature deaths a year,” said Behrmann.
He added that 25 percent of Adirondack lakes have no fish in them because of the pollution levels.
Behrmann offered three solutions to the problems, decrease energy demands, clean up dirty power plants and to add renewable energy.
He said there are several misconceptions about wind energy, such as the noise they produce, the property values around them and the shadow flicker.
He said the decibel level of a wind tower is the same as a refrigerator, studies have shown property values actually increase and research into shadow flicker has been inconclusive, but the flicker only occurs a few times a year.
Rudyard Edick of the Department of Environmental Conservation said newer wind farms are being built after studies have been done to see flight paths of birds, so bird deaths is becoming a non-issue.
“House cats kill more birds than wind farms,” said Edick.
Town of Lowville Supervisor Arleigh Rice and Town of Harrisburg Supervisor Norman Roof were also on-hand to offer their insider views into the community effect of building wind farms. Both were part of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm.
“Planning boards have to get their heads in the game,” said Rice, “they can’t let someone else do the work for them.”
He said he advises planning boards to treat everyone the same and to let an independent agency develop the Payment in Lieu of Taxes plan, not the county, because Lowville had some problems with their plan that ended up going to court in Albany.
Roof said a highway agreement is essential because during construction contractors will ruin roads over the course of the project.
Roof said the project has worked out well for his town and the state.
“I think of my grandchildren, and how the wind projects are going to help them and their world in the future,” said Roof.
The conference was hosted by the Herkimer-Oneida Counties Comprehensive Planning Program and Pace Law School Energy Project.
Currently, New York state is home to four wind farms, producing more than 700,000 megawatt hours of power. Estimates have shown that if the state’s true wind potential was realized, it could satisfy 25 percent of the state’s energy needs.
By Eric Monnat
Telegram Staff Writer
26 February 2007
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