MEDINA – Speakers representing a Virginia company looking to bring an industrial wind energy project to Niagara and Orleans counties, and of the citizens alliance opposed to the proposal, will take part in a panel discussion at Genesee Community College’s Medina campus.
The event, to be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 22 will be part of an Intro to Healthful Living class but is also open to the public. GCC Associate Dean Jim Simon said the event may also be live-streamed.
The event will bring together John Riggi, president of Save Ontario Shores, and Daniel Fitzgerald, Apex Clean Energy’s senior development manager, with Jeanne Crane serving as moderator.
Intro to Healthful Living, HED 204 in GCC’s catalogue, emphasizes a wide range of health-impacting decisions and the personal responsibilities needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Instructor LuAnn Tierney said the course has contained a highlight on the local agricultural impact on wellness, with the wind project another community-wide issue worth covering.
“Green energy is a large component of environmental wellness so this is a unique and pertinent opportunity to look at the topic in depth and discover that in most of these circumstances there are no easy answers – just more questions,” Tierney said.
Her class has looked at the physical, social, emotional and spiritual wellness effects of wind energy in a community.
In 2012, the class hosted a similar panel on horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Crane, as a member of the League of Women Voters, organized the panel.
“This time it’s an issue that’s a little closer to us,” Crane said. “With hydrofracking, we didn’t have anything in the area, but (the wind project) will affect Orleans and Niagara.”
Apex plans to locate a network of large-scale wind turbines in the northwestern quadrant of Yates and throughout the northern end of Somerset. The 200-megawatt Lighthouse Wind system, made up of about 70 600-foot towers, would connect to the grid at a coal-powered energy plant in Niagara County.
Lakeshore residents are worried that the turbines, larger than those in Wyoming County, would harm both their community’s atmosphere and the wellness of residents.
Crane said she has several friends against the plan, but does have a position on wind energy.
“It’s important to have the community aware of what can happen,” Crane said. “The two speakers scheduled are both well-versed … we know the financial impact, we know what happens when (wind energy) comes in, and it’s easy money coming in, but we also have to think of the population around us.”
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