With a wave of wind energy seemingly about to hit Western New York, many of the area’s towns have a message for Albany: They think they’re handling it pretty well on their own.
That’s in the wake of legislation passed at the end of the State Senate’s and Assembly’s spring sessions that drafted new rules for siting power plants – including large wind power projects.
State Sen. Dale Volker, R-Depew, says there’s no reason to worry; the bills have to be reconciled, and there will be no loss of local control over wind turbine siting.
“This process is really about nuclear plants, coal plants,” Volker said. “It’s not really about windmills.”
Meanwhile, Matt Anderson, a spokesman for Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, said the wind measures are “part of the legislation right now. That’s what we’re going forward with.”
Merle Draper, the supervisor of the Orleans County Town of Shelby, said: “If the ability to control the siting is taken from the local municipality . . . we’re again a big backyard for New York City.”
Volker contends Article X, as the state legislation is known, is a necessary step toward heading off an energy crisis downstate, where power usage is rising and plants can’t be built.
In that context, wind energy is small potatoes, he says. Volker also said the real purpose is to get larger-scale projects involving technologies like “clean coal” going in time to help prevent a California-style meltdown of the energy system.
“I don’t think either house is going to go for an overall state decision on windmills,” he said. “That’s going to be decided by locals and should be. That’s never been a question.”
Town officials argue that the best way to deal with those concerns is locally.
“There’s an advantage in being able to control the destiny of our own community,” said Hamburg Supervisor Steven Walters.
By Elmer Ploetz
News Staff Reporter
15 September 2007
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