Major players in the Jordanville Wind Farm controversy were left confused and disappointed following last week’s decision by the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve the proposal with stipulations.
Landowners, taxpayers and members of the Friends of Renewable Energy (FORE) were outraged with the decision to cut 19 turbines from the proposal, and also voiced concerns with the wording of the decision.
“We’re going to do some investigating. We don’t understand the reasoning. FORE is going to investigate further because it doesn’t smell quite right,” said Kay Sheldon Moyer, of FORE, who noted the wording in some parts of the decision was identical to information released by Otsego 2000, opponents of the project.
Legal counsel will probably be retained by individuals, landowners and taxpayers, Moyer said.
“Our research was quoted throughout the document,” confirmed Martha Frey, executive director of Otsego 2000. “We certainly submitted reports and they used the report we did working with Stone Environmental Consultants.”
Although the PSC used reports submitted by the organization and cut the project based on concerns raised by Otsego 2000, Frey said they still felt the decision did not deal with other environmental concerns.
Residents at the Holy Trinity Monastery were disappointed as well, according to Father Luke, deputy abbot. “Our desire was to see the entire project, all of the turbines, be removed. But even 19 less is good,” he said.
The ruling by the PSC granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, “authorizing (Jordanville Wind, LLC) to construct and operate the Jordanville Wind Project, the electric plant described in its petition (as supplemented) and as modified in this Order, subject to the conditions set forth below. JW is authorized to construct its project as proposed, except for Wind Generating Turbines 15, 18, 20, 22A, 32, 34, 35, 36, 37, 54, 57, 58, 59, 66, 76, 82, 85, 86 and 90, and associated electric plant. Any other proposed relocation or modification to the Project layout, including future additions of Wind Generating Turbines by JW, affiliates or successors, shall be presented for analysis, review and approval pursuant to all relevant local, state and federal permitting requirements.”
The loss of tax money and promised jobs, not to mention revenues promised to landowners whose property was designated as sites for turbines, are concerns being voiced by people who supported the proposal, “from as far away as Little Falls,” Moyer said. “Even though we had the project, everyone (throughout the counties and towns) are losing because of the view. It just doesn’t feel right or fair or just.”
This is not the first time the Glimmerglass Historic District and its representatives have been victorious in fighting proposals that could disrupt the characteristic of surrounding landscapes. More than two decades ago, the Friends of P.R.O.T.E.C.T (later renamed Otsego 2000) came together to fight the Marcy South Powerline Project to protect the district’s northern landscape.
The view to the north end of the lake was the view that would be changed with the turbine project, the same view that was protected from the Marcy South Powerline project due to its historical impact, Frey noted. “And it wasn’t even a historic district then.”
“We were a little bit disappointed with the PSC ruling, but we hope it was everyone’s prayers that contributed to the ruling. We plan to continue with the prayers,” Father Luke said. “We would prefer to see all of the turbines go, or remove them to somewhere else where there is no population.”
The pristine beauty of the area is the concern for members of the monastery, which settled in Jordanville 75 years ago. “The whole area will be changed, it will change the landscape. You can’t hide these. It will affect the way the people view the area, especially people who come here as pilgrims. We would prefer to keep the pristine beauty,” said Father Luke.
Since the removal of the 19 turbines represents approximately one-third of the project, Moyer questioned if that same percentage of jobs would be lost as well.
“There were supposed to be 18 full-time jobs. We’re not sure of the loss yet, but with one-third taken away, we’re sure that amount will drop. And these jobs would have been given to all the people who were residents of the two towns,” Moyer said.
With all monetary ramifications put aside for now, how much influence Otsego 2000 had in the decision is the main concern of proponents of the project.
“Why was it written like that and why did they choose the ones they did? FORE will be investigating on behalf of the taxpayer,” Moyer said.
by Janine Giordano
30 August 2007