The pros and cons of wind farms again were the main topic of conversation at the Tioga County commissioners meeting this week.
Bob Pleas of Rutland Township said he did a review on the Internet and, based on what he read, “the cons outweigh the pros.”
“They generate cash for some people but not much energy,” he said.
According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, two big wind farms with 159 turbines do not generate as many megawatts as a single conventional power generating plant, which takes up 100 times fewer acres.
“A proposed wind farm in Massachusetts will provide 415 megawatts of power from 130 towers in 430 square miles of ocean,” he said.
Wind farm proponents are touting jobs, but they simply don’t exist, Pleas said.
“These towers create few, if any, compensating jobs anywhere,” he said. “They can’t even sustain one full-time employee.”
Wind energy is unreliable because it is intermittent, Pleas said.
“If there is no wind, no energy is produced,” he said. “I’m afraid these wind turbines will give us a false sense of security that we have solved the energy crisis and so we will use even more electricity, which will result in more carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere as the conventional electric plants kick in to take up the slack.”
Bob Schwoyer, also from Rutland Township, said that he has yet to see a public meeting be held to inform the public about the possibility of wind farms being constructed in Tioga County.
“The public has been kept in the dark like mushrooms. We haven’t seen any public meetings to let the people voice their concerns. It’s time we do that,” he said.
Schwoyer said that though he believes global warming is a problem, he doesn’t see it as entirely manmade but caused in part by volcanic eruptions around the world, which have been happening with increasing frequency, he said.
“One major eruption like a Mount St. Helens, can devastate the environment,” he said.
Commissioner Erick Coolidge responded, as did county planner Jim Weaver.
“This is about dealing with issues that affect all 40,000-plus people in this county, not just a handful that have made it their cause,” he said.
Coolidge said the commissioners did not know about the interest of the wind energy company in Tioga County until recently.
“This came to us after the fact. Land owners have certain rights. We have no zoning to restrict it, and we have not usurped anyone’s rights to lease to wind energy companies, gas energy companies or anyone else,” he said.
The commissioners have “done what we can to protect landowners,” Coolidge said.
“The wind tower entities are going to be monitored and held accountable,” he said.
Weaver concurred with that, saying that the county planning office is “doing what it believes to be best to have oversight of what’s going on.”
“Nothing has been built yet, they are still gathering data on the viability of it here, and we have invited the company to hold a public meeting and we think it’s forthcoming,” Weaver said.
Commissioner Mark Hamilton said no one at the county level “had a clue” that the wind energy companies were interested in Tioga County until recently.
“But, we have been following what is going on in other counties, giving us a jump on it to make sure they are controlled for the health and safety of our citizens,” he said.
By Cheryl R. Clarke
25 April 2007
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