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Article X: is public health and safety over burdensome?

For the past six years two proposed wind energy projects have dominated and divided our community like no other issue.

The community of Cape Vincent had home rule usurped by a corrupt Town Government acting as agents for wind developers in return for financial gains through the signing of wind leases.

However, an amazing thing happened in Cape Vincent last fall.

The community rallied and brought democracy to Cape Vincent through the ballot box. Cape Vincent has struggled for years to write a zoning law that would ensure our community adequate protection for siting Wind energy facilities.

As a result of this historic election the newly elected Town Board enacted a wind development moratorium allowing us to have breathing room to develop a protective zoning law.

Article X was enacted taking away the home rule that we fought so hard to gain

At the last Town Board meeting the Town Board passed a resolution to submit a comment letter to the Public Service commission concerning Article X one of the points their letter highlights is low frequency noise and the disparity between A- weighted and C- weighted noise measurements . [1]

A major public health issue concerning siting of a wind energy complex is the effect of low frequency noise. “Wind turbines and wind farms generate strong infrasonic noise which is characterized by their blade passing harmonics (monochromatic signals)” [2]

Article x does not define clear standards to protect people from low frequency noise, leaving it to the developers discretion.

Additionally the town board’s letter also reiterated its support of “home rule.”[2]

“We much prefer that our laws, which focus on health, safety and protection, are earnestly considered before they might be supplanted by the Siting Board,” the letter says.

Cape Vincent’s town board argues that its local laws should be presumed to be “reasonable, necessary and reflective of community standards” and that it should be up to the applicant to “justify any request to dismiss a local law.” And if a project is “forced on a community” by the state under Article X, town officials want the PSC to “assume responsibility for assessing compliance, resolving complaints.”[2]

Article X requires that Local laws are taken into consideration however, if they are considered unreasonably burdensome in view of the existing technology or the needs of or costs to ratepayers whether located inside or outside of such municipality. The board shall provide the municipality an opportunity to present evidence in support of such ordinance, law, resolution, regulation or other local action issued thereunder. [3]

The words unreasonably burdensome are ambiguous what exactly do they mean?

The consequences of the newly passed Power act of New York (Article X) are unknown.

This new law will regulate Power plant siting statewide. Our lawmakers have a moral responsibility to protect the citizens of New York State to ensure that the siting of new power generating facilities do not harm the public.

Moreover, the state has a responsibility to recognize and establish clearly defined standards including c- weighted sound emissions.

The fact that the science exists concerning the harmful effects of low frequency noise and Article X does not address this issue is an egregious omission.

The language in Article X leaves many questions.

Will the concern over rate payer’s rights trump human rights?

If existing turbine technology is noisy, does this mean that a law requiring c- weighted predictors is considered over burdensome?

Will Governor Cuomo’s green agenda become more important than the health and welfare of the citizens of New York State?

[1]The Watertown Daily Times.
Cape Vincent officials urge tougher wind turbine noise standards

[2] (Ceranna et al., p. 23).

[3] Article X

Follows the frequency sensitivity of the human ear at very high noise levels. The C-weighting scale is quite flat, and therefore includes much more of the low-frequency range of sounds than the A and B scales