Cattaraugus County residents who fear their communities will be subjected to wind-energy facility laws and contracts, wind tower views and wind turbine noise learned Monday night that wind energy has already become a public policy in New York State.
About 60 residents attending Monday night’s wind energy forum in Olean Public Library were advised to lobby the governor and state elected officials concerning a proposed power plant siting bill now making its way through the State Legislature. The bill – known as Article X – and other legislation being considered in Albany would revive the Public Service Commission’s expired provisions for power plant siting.
It was proposed by Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer as part of his new energy policy to quickly bring clean new power plants into operation to serve downstate’s ever-increasing demand for power.
State Sen. Catharine Young, ROlean, said the legislation and the topic of wind energy plants have split supporters and opponents into several factions, many of which profess support of that source of energy.
“I do support wind energy, but there are some problems with this bill,” said Young.
She referred to the Article X provision that would supersede town laws that are increasingly catching on with local government officials, who are anxious to have some control and, if possible, some revenue, governing wind farm permits.
Young also told the group that there is little hope for a second bill to establish an 18-month moratorium on wind farms while a task force studies permitting and siting policies.
Brad Jones, who is part of an opposition movement to wind farms in the Naples and Finger Lakes region, told the group that wind facilities don’t follow through on promises, failing to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil because of the needed energy demands to start up and run the giant turbines.
In addition, he said, financial incentives and public subsidies create an opportunity for profits with increasing costs of electricity. He also cited documented wildlife and human health risks while in his own community his friends, who are public officials, are afraid to be seen with him due to his opposition stance.
Gary Abraham, representing the event’s sponsor, Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, complained that the passage of town laws and the siting of wind energy facilities avoid full review of the impacts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
He took up that issue again in a public hearing held Tuesday night in the Town of Allegany, where a local law is proposed to govern wind energy facilities there.
He criticized the town’s environmental assessment form, which states there are no impacts but argued the state law would require a generic impact study of issues of the type that any wind farm would create.
“It would be the largest industrial project this town has ever seen and the level of study is not appropriate for a project of this size – if you drafted a law that assured there would be no impact you can dispense with the review,” he said, urging the town to extend its one-year moratorium and study the issues thoroughly.
The Allegany Town Board will discuss the law again in a special meeting Aug. 28.
By Kathy Kellogg
15 August 2007
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