September 2, 2010
New York

Presentation planned on prospects for wind farm

By Thomas J. Prohaska, NEWS NIAGARA REPORTER, The Buffalo News, 1 September 2010

LOCKPORT – Two representatives from the State Power Authority will make a presentation on the Great Lakes wind turbine project at the Sept. 21 meeting of the Niagara County Legislature, Legislator Renae Kimble disclosed Tuesday.

Kimble, D-Niagara Falls, told the Legislature’s special committee on wind power that she had lined up an appearance by Sharon Laudisi, business development manager from the Power Authority’s headquarters, and Lou Paonessa, its local spokesman.

Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said it will be the first item on the Sept. 21 agenda.

The committee was appointed to forestall, at least temporarily, a move to revoke the Legislature’s resolutions supporting the wind power project. Ross had said he thought the motion to revoke support for the project would have passed.

The tables turned at a meeting in late July, after residents along the Lake Ontario shore spoke out against the project.

Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, said 43 people have sent him e-mails on the plan since the committee was formed, and only two favored the project.

The Power Authority has refused to say whether any of the five bidders who have submitted proposals for wind farms are interested in the Niagara County shoreline.

“It would be so much simpler if [Power Authority] had just given us the answers to these questions,” said Legislator Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, the committee chairman.

The Power Authority told the bidders that the stretch from the Niagara River to Wilson was the only area off Niagara County its engineers deemed a feasible location, although bidders were free to suggest anyplace in lakes Erie or Ontario.

“A lot of this could be much ado about nothing,” Kimble said. “There might not be a company that wants anything to do with Lake Ontario, and all the bids might be in Lake Erie.”

Lake Erie is much shallower than Lake Ontario, so pylons supporting the turbines would be shorter and presumably less expensive and easier to install than in Lake Ontario.

Whatever site is chosen, building the wind farm would probably be a lengthy process.

Dawn M. Timm, the county’s solid waste coordinator, once held a private sector job finding sites for windmills. She said a wind project off the shore of Long Island needed nine years of environmental reviews.

Ross and Burmaster said letters opposing the project have arrived in addition to the e-mails Godfrey has been tracking for the committee.

Burmaster said one he received was partially in French. It came from a group of Quebec residents who portray French soldiers at Old Fort Niagara’s annual French and Indian War re-enactment and opposed locating windmills off the historic shoreline.

Members of the committee were divided into small groups to come up with questions and if possible, answers, on various topics relating to the project.

Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, said the questions should be sent to Laudisi and Paonessa so they know what to discuss Sept. 21.

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