Will we see wind farms in the Great Lakes? The New York Power Authority says yes. The questions is: where?
Richard Kessel, the Power Authority President was in Rochester Monday night. Even though the lakeshore communities of Greece, Webster and Irondequoit have opposed wind turbines in Lake Ontario, Kessel stopped short of saying the wind farms won’t be built here.
“If a community voted no, it’s duly noted, and I would tend think the project is not likely to be there,” said Kessel.
The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has proposed putting giant windmills about two miles offshore in Lake Ontario.
“We’re too dependant on fossil fuels, and we’re hostage to OPEC and that can’t be going forward,” said Kessel.
Kessel was the keynote speaker at the Center for Environmental Information’s, “Community Salute to the Environment.” Most people in attendance support the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project, or GLOW, but not Robert Ament of Irondequoit.
“Really, this gentleman, I wish he would just leave our town and go home,” said Ament of Kessel.
Ament is one of more than a dozen residents of Irondequoit who asked their board last week to oppose wind turbines in Lake Ontario.
“We live off the Great Lakes,” said Ament. “Anybody who’s familiar with the shoreline from Youngstown to Cape Vincent understands the great beauty of our vast open lake.”
Ament likes to spend times with his kids on Lake Ontario. Whether it’s going to Durand Eastman Beach or going fishing. He says the GLOW project makes no economic sense.
“You’ll see an increase in rates and in the same token a desecration and destruction of our shoreline,” said Ament.
“If you don’t want offshore wind, what do you want? Do you want a power plant?” asked Kessel during his presentation.
Kessel says most of the concerns are about aesthetics and says the NYPA will take those concerns into consideration. But he says at this point there are no guarantees on where the projects will go. He believes Greece, Webster and Irondequoit are premature in voting against the wind turbines and could lose out.
“I don’t think it’s a question of whether or not wind mills are going to be in the Great Lakes,” said Kessel. “They are going to be there. The question is should New York be first to take advantage of that and all the economic development opportunities that this kind of a project presents, and I think we should be first.”
Kessel says other states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin are already moving forward with plans to put wind mills in the Great Lakes. He says the projects have the potential to create thousands of jobs.
Right now, NYPA is going over proposals and expect to announce project plans in the first half of next year.
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