Photo simulations submitted for LIPA’s proposed offshore wind farm offer a limited, possibly undersized view of the 40-turbine array as it will appear in South Shore waters, a town supervisor charged yesterday.
After a study it commissioned last fall by a third-party imaging firm, the Town of Babylon produced its own photo simulations of the wind farm and found that, by comparison, the turbines portrayed in the Long Island Power Authority’s submissions “look smaller,” according to a report expected to be released today.
The study found the LIPA photo analysis, conducted by an outside company, to be “incomplete,” lacking in resolution and a range of lens depictions to provide a breadth of viewpoints. Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone said the analysis, combined with a study his office conducted of the estimated construction costs of the project, lead to concerns.
“It’s definitely not an accurate representation of what people will see if this project ever were to be built,” said Bellone, who will present his findings at a conference at Gilgo Beach this morning at 11. “We consistently see an effort with this project to exaggerate the benefits and downplay the costs, financial or otherwise.”
LIPA has said it believes the photos present an accurate depiction of the wind farm.
“With global warming threatening Long Island’s future, to be arguing over pictures of what windmills will look like is absurd,” said LIPA chief executive Richard Kessel. He criticized opponents of the wind farm for taking “a very selfish perspective about not wanting to see windmills.”
The town is calling on LIPA to release the full details of the photographic simulation commissioned for the project, and to remove the photos from its Web site until “accurate photos can be displayed,” Bellone said.
A separate cost analysis of the wind farm by the town puts the figure to construct the wind farm “conservatively” at $556 million. Kevin Law, LIPA’s newly named chairman, recently asked the authority to conduct a full economic analysis of the project.
The Babylon photo analysis, conducted by Creative Visuals Inc. of upstate Bearsville, determined that, at best, the study submitted by LIPA and FPL Energy “does not provide the viewer with enough information to evaluate the true visual impact due to insufficient resolution …” according to the report.
Researcher Larry Heimel of Creative Visuals, which has conducted more than 600 similar photo analyses for municipalities and contractors, said the amount of resolution in the LIPA photos limits the amount of detail that can be viewed when they are enlarged. “This is not an accurate representation of what you’ll be seeing due to the lack of resolution and, because of the distance to the turbines, a lack of supplemental lens views provided,” he said.
By Mark Harrington
24 April 2007
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