The New York Power Authority continues to consider proposals to build offshore wind turbines, but a majority of Monroe County legislators have now gone on record opposing the idea.
The Power Authority, an independent arm of state government, solicited proposals in 2009 from the private sector to build one or more wind farms in the near-shore waters of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. Five proposals were submitted last June, and authority officials have been studying them since then. Officials have refused to reveal any information about the proposals.
Authority spokeswoman Connie Cullen said Tuesday that officials were on track to select one or more developers by the end of the first quarter, or March 31. The authority, which would purchase power generated by the wind turbines, is pushing the project as a source of renewable energy and green jobs.
A Voice of the Voter poll conducted in the fall found that 68 percent of the likely Monroe County voters surveyed supported allowing wind turbines offshore in Lake Ontario, 17 percent were opposed and 15 percent were undecided.
But opposition has surfaced in a number of shoreline communities, with county lawmakers in Wayne, Oswego, Jefferson and Chautauqua counties coming out against the idea.
Monroe County Legislator Rick Antelli, R-Greece, circulated a non-binding resolution among Monroe lawmakers in July, but drew only 12 signatures – three fewer than would constitute a majority of the 29-member body.
But Antelli said Tuesday that he resubmitted the resolution to his colleagues around Thanksgiving, and got four more signatures. All 16 Republicans have now signed, though none of the 13 Democrats joined them.
“There is a majority now. The Power Authority always said they’re not going to go where they’re not wanted,” said Antelli, noting that town boards in Greece, Irondequoit and Webster also have expressed opposition. “At least in Monroe County, we’re sending a message. So we’ll see.”
Power Authority spokeswoman Cullen said, “NYPA is always interested in receiving comment on the project, and will consider it as we do all public comment.”
News of the four new signatories on Antelli’s resolution first began making the rounds Tuesday, buoying offshore wind opponents.
“I believe it is clear that there is strong resistance … around lakes Ontario and Erie, a message NYPA must consider,” said Suzanne Albright, a Greece resident and a leader of Great Lakes Wind Truth, a citizens group that questions offshore turbines. “At a time when New York state is in serious debt, why would NYPA even be considering such a wasteful, expensive idea?”
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