Towns, such as Richmondville are rushing to enact a wind turbine law not to “protect” the town residents as often claimed (Richmondville residents are already protected by zoning laws that prohibit wind turbines in all of the Town’s rural residential areas) but rather to remove protections in order to accommodate Reunion Power and other wind power companies.
County and Town officials have conducted private unannounced meetings with Reunion Power in a “we know best” attempt to exclude the residents from decision making. Schoharie County failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Law request for records of those meetings and the Town of Richmondville responded to a similar request by stating that they took no minutes and maintained no records of those meetings.
Town of Richmondville officials “educated” themselves about the complex issues and impacts associated with the building of industrial wind turbine facilities in rural areas, not by consulting independent experts but by watching a DVD produced by Reunion Power. While this process requires months of bipartisan research, the Town Board became experts after a few days of biased information.
If the new wind law under consideration by Richmondville and other Towns is nearly identical to that proposed by the wind power companies themselves and, if adopted, would allow industrial wind turbines in any residential area, with only minimal restrictions on setbacks from neighboring property. This will have a negative affect on nearby property values, but will not reduce those properties’ tax assessment.
The power company profits again, while we pay.
Towns are being blackmailed (“make us pay taxes and we will go somewhere else”) by the wind power companies to exempt their multi-million dollar facilities from paying taxes while the residents face revaluation after revaluation to ensure they are paying “full market value” taxes on their homes.
Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) programs, that the wind power companies favor, save the wind power companies millions of dollars a year and deprive Towns of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
In addition, these same wind power companies are subsidized (78%) at the federal level, with millions of your federal tax dollars. They just aren’t interested in paying their fair share, while local businesses and residents do just that. Yet, the wind power companies speak of being a “partner” with the residents of the region.
Wind turbine energy will not reduce local electric bills in any way. In fact, some traditional power companies are considering a surcharge on power bills to accommodate wind generation facilities’ integration into the grid. The electricity generated is simply sold on the grid and shipped to the highest bidder.
It’s important to understand that wind turbines will not impact America’s dependence on foreign oil, since only 3% of domestic electricity is generated by oil-fired power plants.
The turbines proposed are not picturesque “windmills.” They are massive, industrial power facilities, with fences, access roads and high voltage feeder lines. Each turbine is over 400 feet high topped by a blinking FAA required aviation beacon, which will alter the views and sight lines for hundreds, if not thousands of County residents, FOREVER. It’s also important to consider that if you say “yes” to wind turbines, you also say “yes” to the eventual above ground high tension transmission towers and lines, clear-cutting, soil mitigation issues, road damage, site-fencing and associated security lighting. Not to mention the hundreds of gallons of toxic fluids EACH turbine contains including lubricating oils, dialectric oils, hydraulic fluids, anti-freeze, etc.
Industrial wind turbines create noise. The amount of noise varies from location to location, depending on geographic, topographic and other factors. The Richmondville Town Board is even considering removing the noise statute from the already lax, model wind turbine law to further accommodate Reunion Power, further exposing their constituents and full-rate taxpayers to another hazard.
Wind power companies are proposing large and invasive projects in towns throughout the County. How many are enough? How many are too many? Just in neighboring Delaware County, over 100 turbines are being proposed in the Town of Meredith. Test towers are in place in Jefferson, Richmondville and other area towns. Consider joining towns such as Andes, Bovina, Cherry Valley, Castile and others by saying “No”.
We urge you contact your County and Town officials and demand an open process and fair evaluation of wind turbine proposals. Attend public hearings and demand that the interests of the community are considered before the interests of the wind power companies.
Finally, ask yourself if it is fair and acceptable to force your neighbors to live next to an Industrial Electrical Generating Facility that did not exist when they purchased or built their homes. Also please consider it is the wind power companies attempting to change the status quo, not homeowners that would have to see, hear and live with turbine and the inconvenience of the large construction project. If this is allowed to happen, what’s next?
Sponsored by Schoharie Valley Watch, a non-partisan, citizens action group dedicated to open government, public awareness and maintaining the rural quality of valley life.
6 August 2007
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