[ exact phrase in "" • results by date ]

[ Google-powered • results by relevance ]


Subscribe to RSS feed

Add NWW headlines to your site (click here)

Sign up for daily updates

Keep Wind Watch online and independent!

Donate $10

Donate $5

Selected Documents

All Documents

Research Links


Press Releases


Publications & Products

Photos & Graphics


Allied Groups

News Watch Home

Records show area officials profit from leases with turbine firms  

Credit:  By JENNIFER BOGDAN, Observer-Dispatch, www.uticaod.com 18 September 2010 ~~

Twelve public officials who sat on county and town boards in Lewis County stand to make a combined $7.5 million from the region’s largest wind-turbine project, government disclosure forms show.

And numerous other officials in Herkimer County stand to profit as well from new projects there, although not to the same extent, records show.

The lease arrangements have raised questions among local residents and good-government experts about potential conflicts of interest as wind-turbine farms are approved.

One person who feels that way is Gordon Yancey of the town of Lowville, who used to have a clear view of the Adirondacks stretching as far as the eye could see from his property on the edge of the Tug Hill plateau.

But in 2006, the sprawling Lewis County landscape became home to the Maple Ridge wind farm – a group of 195 wind turbines towering 400 feet high over the once undeveloped landscape in Lowville, Martinsburg and Harrisburg. Those communities are located along state Route 12 about one hour north of Utica.

Now, Yancey said all he sees are the massive white towers obstructing his view. He blames lease agreements between wind developers and public officials, one of whom is his brother, Edward Yancey, who sat on the Harrisburg Zoning Board of Appeals.

Edward Yancey stands to benefit to the tune of up to $1 million over the lifetime of the agreement, according to disclosure forms filed with the state by Iberdrola Renewables and Horizon Wind Energy, which co-own the project.

“They made their sweetheart, backdoor deals long before anything was made public,” Gordon Yancey said. “Of course, the boards pushed everything through.”

Edward Yancey could not be reached.

Disclose or face fine

A 2008 mandate from the state Attorney General’s Office requires wind companies to disclose the nature and scope of any municipal officer’s financial interest in a wind project or risk facing fines of as much as $100,000.

No companies have been penalized to date, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

“In order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, we publically disclose any relationship with a municipal officer or their relative,” Iberdrola spokesman Paul Copleman said.

Lise Bang-Jensen, senior policy analyst for the Empire Center for New York State Policy, said any move towards increased government transparency is admirable, but making sense of conflicts is more complex than writing them down.

“If you have a role on both sides of a project, that’s a clear conflict of interest,” Bang-Jensen said. “Putting it on a piece of paper and disclosing it, doesn’t make it legal.”

Many of the officials listed on the disclosure forms – including Harrisburg Town Supervisor Stephen Bernet, who stands to make $1 million – did not return calls last week.

One of those listed on the disclosure forms is Roger Grace, a Planning Board member in Pinckney. Maple Ridge wind farm spreads across Lowville, Harrisburg and Martinsburg, but Grace, who stands to make as much as $20,000 from the project, still is required to disclose his role in a neighboring town.

He said his role isn’t a concern, and he believes those involved have acted appropriately.

“I think everyone’s done a phenomenal job,” Grace said. “It’s always a battle, though. People that got money love them, and people that didn’t get money hate them. That’s all.”

‘Not acting objectively’

The issue of lease agreements between public officials and wind developers is burgeoning in Herkimer County, where the Hardscrabble wind farm is slowly rising.

The Herkimer County towns of Fairfield and Norway will soon be home to 37 turbines – seven of which are already standing.

In that project, five officials stand to make as much as $85,000 from the turbines that are expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

“For any municipal officers or their relatives with whom we have a relationship, we specifically request that the officers recuse themselves from a decision or vote that would in any way affect the development of a project or affect how the municipality treats wind power,” said Copleman, the Iberdrola spokesman.

Yet six years ago, when the Hardscrabble project was nothing more than a vague concept, questions arose as to why Fairfield Planning Board member Harold Robinson was voting on wind issues while he had an agreement with the wind company aiming to come to town, according to O-D archives.

“The Town Board is not acting objectively,” Fairfield Planning Board Chairman Peter Fishbein complained in 2004. “The board needs to acknowledge there are people who are worried about this and at least hear their concerns.”

Robinson, who stands to make as much as $20,000 from a lease agreement, did not return calls last week.

‘Won’t like the looks of things’

Other wind projects are brewing across the Mohawk Valley, including a plan from NorthWind and Power to build a farm of eight to 12 turbines on Dry Hill in Litchfield.

In that development, some residents have questioned the role played in the process by Litchfield Supervisor Wayne Casler, He is a regional controller at Barrett Paving Materials, which owns more than 100 acres of land on the southern end of Dry Hill.

Wind developers have said the paving company’s land won’t be considered, but the company could be chosen to supply materials for the project if it’s approved.

From time to time in Lowville, Gordon Yancey hears rumblings of other wind farm in the works – like the one in Litchfield.

Each time, he said, he thinks back to the days before his business was surrounded by turbines. Oftentimes, the curious come knocking on his door to ask what his experience was like years before.

“What I tell people is ‘Educate yourselves because you can’t trust where anywhere else is coming from,’” Yancey said. “Ask every question you can. And when you do, you won’t like the looks of things either.”



Maple Ridge Wind Farm
Co-owned by Horizon Wind Energy and Iberdrola Renewables

Name: Richard J. Arthur
Position: Watson Zoning Board member, 2003 to present.
Financial interest: $300,000 to $1 million.

Name: Stephen N. Bernat
Position: Harrisburg Town Supervisor, 1990 – 2003 and 2008 – present.
Financial interest: $1 million or more.

Name: Randy L. Bellinger
Position: Harrisburg Planning Board member, 2009 to present.
Financial interest: $1 million or more.

Name: William J. Burke
Position: Lowville Zoning Board of Appeals chairman, 2001 – 2009; Lewis County legislator, 2008 – 2009.
Financial interest: $1 million or more.

Name: Robert F. Delaplain
Position: Harrisburg Planning Board member, 2001 – 2005.
Financial interest: $1 million or more.

Name: Roger Grace
Position: Pinckney Planning Board member, 2008 – present.
Financial interest: $5,000 to $20,000.

Name: Amy Green
Position: Harrisburg Town Clerk, unknown dates.
Financial interest: $20,000 to $60,000.

Name: Loren Lyndaker
Position: Harrisburg Planning board member, 2002 – 2006; Harrisburg Town Council member, 2007 – present; Harrisburg deputy town supervisor, 2009 – present.
Financial interest: $20,000 to $60,000.

Name: Gary P. Rosiczkowski
Position: Lewis County legislator, 2003 – 2005.
Financial interest: $120,000 to $310,000.

Name: Allyn F. Wheeler
Position: Harrisburg Zoning Board of Appeals member, 2009 – present.
Financial interest: $20,000 to $60,000 for property co-owned with Charlotte Wheeler.

Name: Charlotte Wheeler
Position: Harrisburg Town Council member, 2002 – 2005
Financial interest: $20,000 to $60,000 for property co-owned with Keith Allyn Wheeler

Name: Paul A. Widrick
Position: Harrisburg Zoning Board of Appeals member, 2004 and 2009 – present.
Financial interest: $1 million or more.

Name: Edward A. Yancey
Position: Harrisburg Zoning Board of Appeals member, 2004 – 2008 and 2009 – present.
Financial interest: $1 million or more as a trustee of the Yancey Family Trust.

Hardscrabble Wind Farm
Owned by Iberdrola Renewables

Name: Harold Comstock
Position: Little Falls deputy register of vital statistics, 1993 – present.
Financial interest: Under $5,000.

Name: Lance Crossett
Position: Ravena Zoning Board of Appeals, 2002 – 2005.
Financial interest: $5,000 to $20,000.

Name: Scott Crossett
Position: Norway Town Board member.
Financial interest: $5,000 to $20,000.

Name: Harold Robinson
Position: Fairfield Planning Board member, 2004 – present.
Financial interest: $5,000 to $20,000.

Name: James Roche
Position: Fairfield Zoning Board of Appeals member, 2004 – present.
Financial interest: $5,000 to $20,000.

Source:  By JENNIFER BOGDAN, Observer-Dispatch, www.uticaod.com 18 September 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding
Donate $5 PayPal Donate


News Watch Home

Get the Facts Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

Wind Watch on Facebook


© National Wind Watch, Inc.
Use of copyrighted material adheres to Fair Use.
"Wind Watch" is a registered trademark.



Wind Watch on Facebook

Follow Wind Watch on Twitter

National Wind Watch