September 29, 2013
New York

Contractors, residents come out for wind

By Kate Day Sager | Olean Times Herald | September 28, 2013 |

ALLEGANY – More than 100 people reportedly met this week to discuss efforts to proceed with the construction of a proposed 29-wind turbine farm in the town of Allegany.

Visible evidence of this effort can be seen with the display of several “Support Allegany Wind” signs that are posted on properties around the village and town of Allegany.

Robert LaForge, monitor for the Western New York Foundation for Fair Contracting, said the meeting was held Thursday at the Allegany American Legion on Route 417. He said community residents were notified of the gathering by “word of mouth.” Mr. LaForge noted EverPower officials were not invited to the event. In addition, the Times Herald was unaware of the meeting and did not attend.

“It went very well … We had residents of the town and union members who live in the town and community,” Mr. LaForge said. “We discussed our frustration with the town board because everything (with the wind project) was set and supposed to be going.”

He was referring to the town of Allegany’s vote in 2011 that permitted EverPower Wind, LLC, to proceed with the wind turbine project. The company had proposed to build a 29-turbine, $160 million wind farm in Chipmonk and Knapp Creek ridgetop areas of the town. Controversy surrounding the project, however, caused delays and eventually led to two lawsuits filed by EverPower against the town. Both lawsuits are still outstanding. One that was dismissed in court earlier this year has been appealed by EverPower. The other lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in court in early December. Town officials also noted that a permit issued to EverPower expired in December of 2012 and hasn’t been renewed.

Despite this, Mr. LaForge said there is a silent majority of town residents who are in favor of the project and are pushing for it to proceed.

“This is a grassroot thing, and a lot of it is (led) by organized labor,” he said.

He said EverPower has reached an agreement with IUOE Local 17 and Laborers Local 621 to use local union labor for the project which would create 72.5 megawatts of energy.

“This is good news for workers in Cattaraugus County, and the wind project will provide a much-needed boost for our economy,” Mr. LaForge said. “The project will result in real jobs and income for local workers in construction and transportation.”

Kathy Boser, president of Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, which has led the fight against the wind farm, questioned the “silent majority” of residents who want the wind farm.

“These Allegany Wind supporters do not represent the majority of the residents of Allegany, which was proven in the November 2011 elections,” she said, referring to several town officials who had favored the wind farm and lost the election.

“It is my understanding that the supporters of Allegany Wind are primarily from local construction companies and the unions they employ, looking to gain some short-term jobs,” Ms. Boser said. “While we can be sympathetic with them seeking employment opportunities, we can’t support the fact they are trying to do so, regardless of the negative impacts this would have on the local community.

“The fact that they are siding with the very company that has brought two lawsuits against our town is troublesome, to say the least.”

Allegany Town Supervisor John Hare said he didn’t attend the meeting.

“I know that EverPower is still interested in building the project. That hasn’t waned,” Mr. Hare said. “There has been communications between EverPower and the town, but the lawsuits remain outstanding and I’m not sure what will come out of that.

“I’m hoping and presuming that the original decision (by the court that dismissed the lawsuit) will substantially stand,” he said. “EverPower is obviously looking to have the permit reinstated.”

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