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Legislator proposes Broome wind farms

The Southern Tier is not the windiest section of New York state, but one county legislator hopes to get the county into the wind-energy business.

“I think it’s feasible for our area to do it,” said Legislator Jason Garner, D-Binghamton.

Investors, foreign and domestic, are investing millions of dollars in wind energy-producing developments across New York, said Keith Pitman, CEO and president of the Oneida-based Empire State Wind Energy LLC.

But where other areas of the state are “hotbeds of wind,” the Southern Tier’s wind resources are more “hit and miss,” Pitman said.

“In (Broome) County, your wind resources are not fabulous, so your options are limited,” Pitman said.

But Garner said the county isn’t looking to attract outside developers to build multi- million-dollar operations and leave with the profits.

Garner said he would like to see the county in charge of its own wind farms, in order to pass energy savings to county residents and business owners. An outside developer could make a larger investment and make more money from a project, he conceded, but the benefit to the county would be smaller.

Pitman, at the invitation of Garner, gave an hour-long presentation on wind- power generation projects Tuesday at a meeting of the Broome County Legislature Economic Development and Planning Committee.

Wind energy-generating projects come with pros and cons. The projects can bring in money via property tax agreements or payments in lieu of taxes, and they can bring large windfalls to land owners who sell developers land rights to build the large wind-gathering structures, Pitman said.

Wind farms have been opposed in some communities because the 300- or 400-foot tall windmill-like structures needed to collect the energy are considered unsightly by some people; they create noise; and birds and bats can be killed by the large, spinning blades, Pitman said.

Action on any kind of wind farm won’t happen until at least next year, Garner said.

By John Hill

Press & Sun Bulletin

13 June 2007