The former Allegany town supervisor was quoted in the May 15, 2009, Olean Times Herald: “There is a lot of money out there for wind turbines but you don’t want to sell your souls for something that may come back to haunt you.”
Nevertheless, his 2011 town board deemed townspeople south of the Allegheny River expendable. That board rezoned a “wind district” slicing for miles through that section. Now, EverPower/Allegany Wind LLC have announced they are reassessing the financial viability of their planned turbine farm, but intend a fresh start soon.
Allegany residents believing – because their homes aren’t near the Chipmonk and Rock City ridges – that they need not be concerned are mistaken. Neighboring communities that think they will be spared may not be.
Don’t believe it? Here, the day following the approval vote of Allegany Wind LLC, is the Times Herald quote by the secretary for Labor Union 621 in Olean: “We can set a precedent for the area. We can start here and go across Cattaraugus County, Allegany County and Chautauqua County” with wind farms.
Obviously, a much larger program than just Allegany Wind has been intended from the outset. The goal of the recently emergent Support Allegany Wind movement is to carry forward this program. The driving force behind it are local business owners and their construction employees. Robert LaForge noted in the Sept. 28 Times Herald: “This is a grassroots thing and a lot of it is (led) by organized labor.”
Transparent pretensions regarding green energy or dependence on foreign oil aside, the fundamental objective of this group is to build wind turbines. Its prime directive is the more wind turbines, the better – regardless of negative impacts on the region or its residents. Town “leaders” lining up behind this group are subscribing to its objective. They are also flagrantly endorsing a duplicitous corporation, of which the New York State Supreme Court said: “Severely weakened by its own inaction, petitioner [Allegany Wind LLC] seeks to have the court rectify its transgressions by attacking the conduct of the respondent [Allegany].”
The secretary was right, Allegany Wind hands EverPower the keys to this entire region. From this base, EverPower can extend out in every direction with help from the anticipated 2014 renewal of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) “super-subsidy” for wind farms. At a time when our government cannot adequately care for veterans, hire enough food inspectors or rebuild crumbling infrastructure, the White House is requesting another $25 billion of taxpayer money to subsidize woefully inefficient turbines in low-wind locales like Allegany.
Industrial wind operations start out small and then mushroom as they acquire total buy-in from local governments. Just look to our immediate north for a nearby case study in the trashing of a county. Wyoming County started with an installation of 10 small turbines. That has now exploded to over 300 ever-larger machines, with no end in sight. This is a preview of what is in store for Allegany – and all of Cattaraugus County.
Allegany’s host agreement calls for initial installation of just 29 turbines. But, it also allows for further expansion. That next step is almost a certainty if the Allegany Town Board becomes controlled by the construction lobby. Put simply, larger turbine farms can be run more cost-effectively and qualify for proportionately larger subsidies payments. More mammoth turbines packed on the Rock City and Chipmonk ridges make very good sense when maximizing corporate profits is your primary goal.
And, future installations along Allegany’s Buffalo Road and Five Mile ridgelines are increasingly probable. The latest generation of low wind-peed turbines is already suited for sites that would not have been feasible a few years ago. Back then, the Five Mile Ridge was considered, but was edged out by the Chipmonk alternative. Anyone thinking Allegany’s other ridges won’t soon be targeted should make the short drive to Wyoming County to see just how quickly turbine blight occurs once a special interest group determined to construct more turbines is in control.
Ridgelines in nearby communities may follow next. Look out, town of Olean and town of Carrollton. Look out, town of Hinsdale and town of Portville. Beware, town of Humphrey, town of Ellicottville, and town of East Otto.
Industrial wind is poised to come back to haunt both the entire town and region unless Allegany voters turn out to elect the town board candidates who have shown the civic accountability and integrity to be listed openly on the ballot.
(Ms. Vance lives in Allegany.)
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