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Mixing mills and monasteries in Herkimer County  

Maintaining silence until now, monks at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery have finally voiced opposition to the proposed Jordanville Wind Farm and its armada of 75 turbines.

“The few-hundred acre spiritual retreat settled where it did because of the area’s isolation and beautiful landscape … said the Rev. Luke Murianka, deputy abbot of the monastery.”

In essence, the wind farm is expected to interfere with this particular community’s use of its own land . . . making it less conducive to contemplation and meditation. “Community Character” will forever be changed.

Interestingly, some of the commenters on “Story Chat” accuse the monks of being selfish.

“Carole Kowall” paints the monks as outsiders who “came to America in search of freedom to practice their beliefs,” herself as one of those who gave them this chance, and implies that the monks are applying a double standard. Of course, the obvious difference is that the monks’ community has been here for years and they will have to either give up their way of life or go elsewhere, leaving behind decades of crafts and tradition. Their community will be disrupted. The wind mill promoters, however, are the real “outsiders” who are not interested in a way of life but in making a profit (with with all sorts of taxpayer subsidies). They could go elsewhere with disruption of only plans.

“Jon Tinsdale” proclaims that “we all need to go green” and preaches “The monks should realize it is for the betterment of the whole instead of the few that really count.” There’s that “selfish” accusation again.

Let’s look at some facts:

1) The wind farm project is seeking a PILOT and will not build without it. That means that wind power is currently not economically viable without the local taxpayers’ granting the promoters special privileges. We already know that certain provisions of state law already require everyone to subsidize these operations with special guaranteed minimum electric rates – which is one factor in NYS having some of the highest electric rates in the country, making us uncompetitive for jobs.

2) There is no local need for the electric power the wind farm will generate. In fact, the “excess” of electric power upstate is cited as the justification for NYRI.

3) Unlike conventional coal or nuclear power plants, which could potentially be located away from people and screened, this project will have a footprint of FIVE THOUSAND ACRES. That is significantly larger than the stone quarry that “Ms. Kowall” complains about. And while “Mr. Tinsdale” thinks the windmills are “not bad” to look at, the novelty will surely wear off when we are inundated with them. (Refineries look beautiful at night, too, but I wouldn’t want to live next to one.)

4) The monks are probably one of the “greenest” communities on the continent regarding the lifestyle that they lead. Why should they be expected to sacrifice that so that someone else in a far off city can indulge their creature comforts with a little less guilt?

“Community Character” is an important factor to be considered when weighing the environmental impact of a project, and whether or not a project should be allowed. The Jordanville Monastery is quite unique in North America and is a local treasure. (See the excellent photo presentation on the OD site). It is one of those things that contributes to the cultural diversity of the entire region. At one time it attracted the famous conductor Rostropovich to reside in the area. Surely, the wind farm will destroy the character of the monastic community at Jordanville. While some may “pooh pooh” visual impacts, such have and can provide the basis for denying a project.

Herkimer County has to make a decision on what is more important to its future: the money that will flow to local government and landowners from the project, or preservation of its character. While windmills will become commonplace, destruction Jordanville’s character, once done, will never be replaced.

strikeslip.blogspot.com

24 April 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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