Early last week, Tom Marks, a local citizen leading opposition for Lake Erie windmills and executive director of Great Lakes Wind Truth, from his winter job site near Lake Okeechobee, Fla., provided news that the Erie County Legislature had an agenda to vote on the Lake Erie Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project last week on Thursday.
The projected plan proposes to install a windmill farm on Lake Erie that could include nearly 200 wind-turbine platforms designed to harness wind currents and turn them into electrical energy. The project, which would obviously disrupt the tranquil lake horizon and restful bottom sediments of Lake Erie, has been pushed pretty hard by the New York Power Authority. There is apparent lucrative funding for project building offered from federal sources.
Some folks agree that the county shoreline view would change immensely, while others are concerned about the mere 25 percent of time that the wind actually blows hard enough to turn the turbines, saying, “It’s a waste of money and will destroy our beautiful sunsets, not to mention the rising increased cost of tax burden for maintenance of the insidious looking devices.”
Erie County Legislature members apparently received hundreds of letters and e-mails from interested citizens with comments regarding the project, some with fear for a potential environmental hazard issue that would cost taxpayers increasing capital as time goes on. Does this mean disapproving this proposal saves money and saves the environment? Does this mean this decision is a no-brainer? Thirteen out of the 15 Erie County Legislature members thought so and voted no.
According to Rich Davenport, secretary of the WNY Environmental Federation, “The Erie County Legislature vote represents a very good day for the people of Erie County and the children of our future.”
The Erie County legislators are not alone. Other areas of New York state that have also taken a position to oppose the lake wind farms include Chautauqua County, Jefferson County, Niagara County, Monroe County, Oswego County and Wayne County. In Erie County, the town boards of Evans and Hamburg oppose. The state of Ohio has voted to oppose wind turbines. In Canada, the province of Ontario has issued a moratorium on any consideration for Lake Erie wind turbines due to environmental and ecological concerns.
The data-driven Davenport added, “Wind energy flat out does not make sense. The science behind the electric grid that distributes electrical power has grid operators shaking in their boots as to how to incorporate wind energy, and the cost is way too high to afford for something that only is effective 25 percent of the time at best (due to the inherent variability of the wind). To place wind farms in our most precious resource, our fresh water, Lake Erie and in other Great Lakes that represent 90 percent of the surface fresh water resources [of] this country would be a disaster of biblical proportions. The Erie County Legislature recognized this and opted to protect what is most important: our fresh water, life in the lake and the health of the water that life in the lake assures.”
Davenport had more and added, “As for the faux environmentalists extolling the virtues of wind, please justify the massive encroachment of funding any wind farm requires (1,000 times larger than any other source of energy) for very little in return, while what is returned is difficult and dangerous to deliver.”
Tom Marks and Davenport agree with Chuck Godfrey (president of the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen) and Joe Fischer (chairman of the Erie County Fish Advisory Board), and many others, who all stand in the corner to applaud the oppose actions the Erie County Legislature, in addition to the other adjacent counties doing the same thing.
A 13-2 thumping vote was recorded in the Legislature records. According to Davenport, “It was a choice between our fresh water or unreliable, ineffective, uneconomical nonsense. Sanity still exists and we still have solid, responsible adults doing the people’s work.” There was not much support for the windmills, except from the New York Power Authority.
Yellow perch and walleye may never know how hard some “conservationists” in Western New York have worked to help assure the lake bottom and spawning beds along the New York Lake Erie shoreline remain as they were, undisturbed. I must admit, I do not know anyone who is in support of the Lake Erie GLOW project, and I have time invested in many circles! Once the facts are explained and understood, the common conclusion is always the same: it makes little sense, except for the foreign investors!
Any other conclusion, it would appear, might have other interests at heart. While the NYPA can still (after the Erie Legislature rejection position) submit to exploit the lake and go after the generous available federal funding, there are still environmental studies that would need to be completed. If they were found acceptable, NYPA could still get the green light to pursue the GLOW project, despite the Erie County official position.
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