The 4/9/08 letter, “Positive benefits outweigh negatives for wind turbines in Perry,” by Terrence Murphy, chair of the Perry Development Committee (PDC), had many inaccuracies and presumptions that needed to be addressed, so we went to speak with the group at their 4/16/08 PDC meeting. Four people showed up for their meeting, including Mr. Murphy and Mayor Wood (who admittedly helped write the letter). The meeting simply verified what we already knew – “It’s all about the money!”
Meeting attendee, Amy Matoon (whom I learned following the meeting is now married to Mr. Bowman, a signed lease holder for turbines on his land) gave a brief history of the PDC, informing us that the group originated in 1992. We were told there is no official membership in the PDC, seemingly indicating Murphy’s letter represented just his & Wood’s opinions. The current Town of Castile Supervisor, Joe Gozelski, told us he had not been consulted about the letter prior to its publication, and that the Town of Castile had not financially supported the PDC during his tenure as Supervisor over the past 9 years as Murphy had inferred in his letter.
Murphy & Wood falsely asserted in their letter, “We believe visual impact is on top of the list … which seems to be of importance to a rather small group of individuals.” These fellas need to revisit the Nov., 2007 election results. Jim Brick may have won his Supervisor position, but he actually lost in his own district – which just happens to be the target zone of the project. Additionally, Ms. Rozanski handily beat a known wind proponent to win her seat on the Perry Town Board with nearly 650 votes. This is hardly a “small group.”
Furthermore, while “visual impact” due to the destruction of priceless scenic vistas is certainly a valid concern, the biggest fears citizens who are going to be stuck living within an industrial wind energy complex have are: sound, flicker, loss of property value, and potential problems with their wells. The need for the noted “neighbor agreements”- payments of $1,000 a year (more like $700 after taxes) to those whose homes will be within 2500′ of turbines, cites the fact that the very problems these folks are worried about do indeed exist!
“On top of the list” by far, however, is that the very basis for the wind industry’s existence is businessmen’s and multi-national investors’ financially-motivated claims that ‘propose’ wind power as a “solution” to global warming. Scientific scrutiny requires that whomever ‘proposes’ a potential “solution” to a problem, PROVE its efficacy. Where is the proof that wind power saves meaningful amounts of CO2? Where are the actual output numbers to substantiate all the wind industry’s grandiose claims? With some 50,000 turbines world-wide later, this proof should be very easy to find.
We asked Mr. Murphy & Mr. Wood why they would urge “proper approvals be made to move forward with this project,” when exacts regarding money haven’t even been discussed yet by the board? I asked if they would ever buy a house or a car, and wait to be told, by the seller, what the exact dollar amount is until after they signed the contract? Murphy and Wood agreed that would be ludicrous! Yet, they presumed to put forth the same “estimates” on “possible” dollars they “might” get in their letter – “estimates” they got from Ann Humphrey and PJ Saliterman, Horizon salespeople who they told us had regularly attended past PDC meetings.
Businesses are leaving NYS not only because of high taxes, as Mr. Murphy indicated in his letter, but because utilities are already too expensive. The excessive costs of wind energy, and the effect of the unreliability of wind energy on the grid, are going to do nothing but create even higher utility rates, and further increase our taxes. The PDC should be closely following what is already happening elsewhere as a result of wind energy, like the 3/6/08 Wall Street Journal article on the recent Texas grid wind-caused emergency. “Shortages degrade reliability and push up prices. Wholesale power prices surged to $1,055 a megawatt hour in West Texas on Feb. 26, versus $299 elsewhere in the state. Following the incident, Texas on Saturday raised its price ceiling to $2,250 a megawatt hour from $1,500. Two days later, it hit the ceiling for the first time as wind production again trailed off.”
While we’re sure the PDC has spear-headed many worthwhile ideas for Perry over the years, the immediate gratification mentality being displayed by the PDC in their pursuit of the quick buck in the case of wind is astoundingly short-sighted. The wind industry themselves says the life of a project may be 20 years. What then? What if the incentives and subsidies dry up long before then? The wind companies will be gone. What’s the plan then? There is certainly no increasing tax base being guaranteed here – especially when no one pays any industrial land tax on a single acre of land within the footprint of the project as it stands anyway – taxes lost to the town. A Bliss man recently told us that promises of reduced taxes for the area are also blown way out of proportion, as he’s saving a whopping $54 a year compared to last year.
Industrial wind certainly isn’t our last resort in Perry! Why not consider the obvious development opportunities Perry has to be a mecca for tourism just because of its location between beautiful Silver Lake and Letchworth State Park, which attracts over a million people a year? Why overlook the ‘golden goose’ sitting right at your doorstep?
The letter’s most unrealistic statement, “We don’t subsidize wind, they subsidize us,” is nothing less than delusional. “Wind farm” owners receive huge tax benefits and subsidies that shift the tax burdens and costs from the “wind farm” owners to us – the ordinary tax payers and utility rate payers. Wind industry officials have admitted that approximately 65% of the economic value of a “wind farm” is derived from just two federal tax breaks – production tax credits and accelerated depreciation. State incentives cover another 10% of the projects. The amount the “wind farm” owners intend to “subsidize us” back, will be less than 1% of what they intend to reap from the project. Additionally, most of the foreign-owned wind companies’ profits will be monies that leave this country.
What Mr. Murphy and the PDC have made very clear is, “It’s all about the money.” The resulting question we are left with, since they are obviously willing to sell their citizens out for the quick buck, is – WHAT’S NEXT? Are you considering bringing in a toxic chemical waste dump? Or maybe spreading sewage sludge from human waste on our farmers’ fields? Should we clear cut all of our trees just to cash in on their value? How about selling water extraction rights to a big corporate water bottler? Gee – it’s amazing how many financial opportunities there are to be had when all you care about is the money!
What’s really at stake here – that you simply can not put a price tag on – is peoples’ quality of life! Sorry fellas, but our quality of life is NOT FOR SALE AT ANY PRICE! As environmentalist Jon Boone said, “Perhaps people would be willing to sacrifice their quality of life on the altar of ‘green’ energy if it actually worked as they claim.”
Mary Kay Barton, Town of Castile resident,Village of Perry property owner
Batavia Daily News
23 April 2008
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