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Wind development ethics questioned  

Credit:  By Matt McAllister, The Journal, www.ogd.com 28 October 2010 ~~

Opposition to wind power development is mounting across the region, according to a news release from the Coalition to Preserve the Golden Crescent and Thousand Islands Region, which questions the ethics involved in negotiations with wind development companies and criticizes several local politicians, including Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent.

The statement was signed by Robert E. Aliasso Jr., co-chairman of the Coalition to Preserve the Golden Crescent and Thousand Islands Region, John L. Byrne, chairman of the Wind Power Ethics Group, Cape Vincent, Mary D. Hamilton, president of Concerned Residents of Hammond, and Cindy L. Grant, a member of Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization, Clayton.

“Recent investigation has revealed that the taxpayer subsidized wind development companies that are currently operating in New York were able to ‘negotiate’ the Attorney General’s Code of Conduct for Wind Farm Development in NY State to their own liking at the expense of local governments and citizens in small towns across the state,” the news release stated. “There appears to be two versions of the Code. On October 30, 2008, Noble Environmental Power LLC and First Wind signed the first version of the Code. Nine months later, on July 31, 2009, a second version of the Code was apparently negotiated and signed by the remaining wind companies. When comparing the two Codes, the areas of ‘negotiation’ on the part of the wind companies are readily apparent.”

Among others, two have significant importance including:

* The addition of a representative from a not-for-profit wind industry association to the AG’s Task Force in charge of monitoring compliance with the code which the group claims could be compared to asking the “fox to guard the hen house.”

* A change in the definition of “siblings” with regard to family relationships. In the first code, siblings were included in all parts that define the circumstances when wind companies should inform public officials regarding their obligation to recuse themselves. In the second code, siblings are excluded from two sections having to do with a general conflict of interest and compensation for services.

“This had an immediate impact on the Thousand Islands town of Hammond where the wind company was able to delay disclosing a conflict of interest relationship between an elected public official and a sibling, thus ensuring the passage of a wind law that did not protect the property values, health, and safety of the majority of town residents, and resulting in legal fees born by the taxpayers for a lawsuit that was unwarranted and easily preventable,” according to the group “The resulting divisiveness in the town will take generations to repair.”

The release states that the issue of recusal has also been a problem in Cape Vincent, “as the refusal of several elected and appointed town officials with signed wind leases to excuse themselves from any wind related discussion and voting has been consistent and encouraged by local State Senator Darnel Aubertine.”

The group said an investigation is now being conducted in Cape Vincent by the state Attorney General’s Task Force.

“Again, this has resulted in extreme division among residents and unnecessary legal fees for those on all sides of the issue,” the release stated.

Mr. Aubertine’s spokesman responded with an e-mailed statement when contacted on Wednesday.

“Darrel is all about jobs and the Energy Valley distinction has absolutely nothing to do with wind in the Oswego, Jefferson or St. Lawrence counties. The Energy Valley resolution was done at the request of the Greater North Country Watertown Chamber of Commerce to recognize existing energy resources in our region from Oswego’s nuclear facilities on up to the Moses-Saunders Hydro Dam because of the jobs they create and sustain,” said Andrew G. Mangione, Mr. Aubertine spokesman. “Our region’s energy production is a valuable economic engine for the jobs that Darrel has worked to save and create in the 48th Senate District, and wind is not part of the equation.”

The group’s statement claims that “the idea of jumping on the ‘green energy’ bandwagon appears to have been appealing to politicians at the top level of state government and it was easy to become swallowed up in the vortex of thinking ‘wind’ was a ‘savior’ when it came to replacing fossil fuels.”

The release continues, “the scam that has developed at taxpayer expense is inexcusable. Taxpayers cannot continue to subsidize this case of corporate greed.

These companies have manipulated their way into our small towns as well as into NY State government and have persuaded officials to change their rules and regulations to make it easier for them to operate while compromising local economies as well as the health and safety of residents.”

The release ends with a plea from the group.

“Please call the offices of your state representatives and encourage them to get involved. Ask them to implore Mr. Cuomo, Mr. Schumer, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Owens, Mr. Aubertine, and Ms. Jenne-Russell to stop the madness and bring some common sense to the direction this issue has taken.

“Blanketing Upstate New York, where wind resources are limited, with 50-story structures is not the answer and allowing foreign wind companies to control the renewable energy destiny of NY State is not acceptable. Going ‘green’ may be a commendable goal, but in this case the ends do not justify the means. Ethics are not negotiable!” the release concluded.

Source:  By Matt McAllister, The Journal, www.ogd.com 28 October 2010

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

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