LYNDONVILLE – Of all the information available at an open house on the proposed Lighthouse Wind project, the most crucial piece presented by Apex Clean Energy was a simple map.
The map, like the presentation, plans for the 200-megawatt wind farm and the 60 to 70 turbines involved, have not changed since October, when Apex held an open house in Barker.
It showed the general area of Somerset and Yates, the neighboring lakeside towns that are targeted for the project, with an outline drawn that in Orleans County runs along the lakeshore to North Lyndonville Road, turning south until going west on Yates Center Road until it once again connects to Niagara County.
That was enough to pull almost every one of the first 50 attendees across the Town of Yates meeting room to the map.
For year-round and seasonal residents of the lanes that jut toward Lake Ontario from Lakeshore Road, it confirmed what they already knew. While siting of the turbines is yet to be negotiated with land owners, the map showed that Lighthouse Wind will be a visible one for them.
“It would definitely take away our view, it’s ugly,” said Chris Craft of Medina, who owns a cottage on the lake. “It’s a thumb in our eyes.”
“I’d have a full view of it,” added Dick Hellert, who lives along the lake.
Heller said he came to the open house to find out more about the non-visible effects, from the impact on local power costs due to added energy being purchased and put into the power grid, to workers’ job safety at AES Somerset, the coal-powered energy plant where Lighthouse Wind will connect into the grid.
The tax impact was on many attendees minds, from an early arriver holding a newspaper clipping about the Town of Eagle’s $1 million annual revenues stemming from a wind project there to concerns voiced by Paul Lauricella, who fears any local revenues will be put into short-term goals with long-term costs.
“What guarantees do we have,” he asked.
Town Councilman Steve Freeman said there’s nothing exact for Yates to judge at this point.
“I wanted to see how far along it was, and from what I see it’s several years away from reaching the town board,” Freeman said.
As for the general view of the town, he pointed to household survey conducted the last time wind energy was considered in the area. 753 of the respondents agreed either strongly or somewhat that Yates should encourage wind energy facilities, to 72 who either somewhat or strongly disagreed.
“So far I haven’t heard much real opposition from the people, I talked to one person, (Supervisor) John (Belson) said he’s heard from two,” Freeman said.
Jennifer Bansbach came to the meeting unsure whether she was the only one opposed to the project. She found others like her.
“I wanted to get the tone (of the community),” said Bansbach, who moved from Medina to the lakeshore. “If I was the only one concerned about it, I’d know the battle would be much more difficult … but I haven’t talked to anyone that’s for it.”
Bansbach’s concerns were the environmental and aesthetic impacts of the turbines, and unknowns about health and noise from what she sees as competing wind energy studies.
Nearby, Tim Zabrowski and Roy Zimmerman’s concerns had to do with the map. The problem? The target zone ends before it reaches their neighboring farmland.
“I’m all for this stuff, but we’re too far east,” Zabrowski said.
“I could live with it,” Zimmerman added. “I think we get enough wind, it’s actually my biggest problem. There’s definitely enough.”
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