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County opposes memorandum of understanding

Jefferson County leaders are speaking out against a deal New York has made with the Obama Administration to speed the development of Offshore Wind Projects on the Great Lakes. Our Amanda Kelley explains why the county says windmills in Lake Ontario would have a negative impact on the environment and the pocketbooks of local residents.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, N.Y. – Building windmills and transmission facilities off the shores of Lake Ontario could bring more green jobs and energy to Upstate New York. That’s why just last month Governor Cuomo struck a deal with the Obama administration to speed up the development of these types of projects. It’s called the Federal Memorandum of Understanding, but Tuesday night, Jefferson County leaders made their opposition to this agreement very clear.

Jefferson County Legislator Robert Ferris said, “We’re not for offshore wind turbines in Jefferson County or around the county. We don’t think it’s necessary. I don’t believe it’s an efficient use of power or government money to subsidize these wind turbines.”

The County’s Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously to oppose the agreement and they believe it’s what homeowners and tourists to the area would prefer.

Jefferson County Legislator Barry Ormsby said, “It’s going to absolutely inhibit boating and tourism and commerce in and out of these ports, that was the simple message. I have not spoken to anybody that was in favor of that concept.”

Opponents say offshore wind development could also decrease property value and possibly hurt the farming community as well as the environment.

This isn’t the first time Jefferson County leaders have opposed offshore wind projects in Lake Ontario and leaders say they doubt it will be the last.

Just last year, a resolution was passed opposing the New York Power Authority’s request to build and operate turbine facilities in the Lake Ontario Eastern Basin.

Ferris said, “We said we don’t want it, give it to the people in Buffalo if they want it. Give it to someone else if they want it. Don’t waste your time or money here.”

But to preserve the beautiful views that thousands travel to see each year, while helping to protect property values, the farming community and the environment legislators say they’ll continue to address each offshore wind project that arises.

Ormsby said, “We don’t need the lakefront littered with these towers.”

Ferris said, “Every time it comes up, we’re going to be opposing it.”

Good news for the thousands who visit the water each summer season. The resolution should go before the entire Jefferson County Legislature sometime this May.