GAINES – Megan McElligott and Jason Gotte feel as though nobody is considering the possible negative impact of Airtricity’s plans to construct 55 to 80 wind turbines in the towns of Gaines and Albion within the next few years.
To educate others about the environmental and economic impacts of the 400-foot towers, the couple will host an informational meeting Saturday at the Quality Work Life hall in Albion.
Speaker Jerry Borkholder from the Wind Tower Committee in Hamlin, who is considered a local expert on wind energy issues, will address the topic and answer questions.
“I’ve been on the Internet reading everything and anything I can and I’m really very concerned,” said McElligott, a home health care aide. “I don’t think this is the future. If this is the future, we’re going to have a lot of problems.”
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that McElligott and Gotte discovered that Airtricity, a $1.6 billion company with wind energy facilities around the world, has already signed leases with a number of area landowners, including a family with land across the street from their Kent Road home.
McElligott and Gotte said they planned to marry and raise kids in their home. Now they are concerned the turbines will hurt their quality of life. They don’t want to put up with constant flickering and acoustic vibrations for the next 30 years.
“The money is in building them, not the electricity. When you look at the numbers, they don’t make sense,” McElligott said.
“Our town will suffer. I can’t understand how our community would allow that.”
“We didn’t really care at the beginning, until we found out more about it,” Gotte said. “It’s really (going to) threaten our way of life.”
McElligott said she hopes to form a community organization, separate of the advisory committees appointed by the Gaines and Albion town boards, to raise awareness about the turbines locally and statewide.
Although the meeting Saturday will focus primarily on facts and literature about wind energy, McElligott also hopes to educate the community about a new piece of legislation known as Article X which, if passed, would put municipal control over energy facilities into the hands of the state.
“I question the (Gaines Wind Advisory) committee,” McElligott said. “I received snide comments from certain members of the committee at the meetings I went to. I feel they’re there for an image, a look. I would like to form something to look out for our best interest in this town.”
Chris Appleton, an Albion resident, said he also is concerned about wind farms. He is suspicious of Airtricity’s lease “secrecy” with local property owners and the turbines’ actual efficiency, among other things.
“Once they’re up, they’re not coming down,” Appleton said.
Marilynn Miller, an appointed member of the Gaines Wind Advisory Committee, said Gaines Town Supervisor Richard DeCarlo Sr. requested the committee members develop personal opinions about the issue by their next meeting, 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at the town hall. The committee will make its recommendation to the Town Board within the next month.
“The wind energy deal is not about clean air, clean energy, electricity production,” Miller said. “It’s about the money.”
By Nicole Coleman
18 October 2007
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