The Somerset Town Board recently sent a survey to residents regarding whether or not Apex, a multi-billion-dollar, out-of-state limited liability corporation, should be allowed to build a sprawling, 570-foot-tall industrial wind factory amongst the homes of those living in Somerset and Yates.
Since unscientific, misleading surveys like this are a tactic we’ve frequently seen used by industrial wind developers elsewhere, and in light of the experiences other towns and counties have had, we were left wondering where the questions that officials actually should be asking were. Questions like:
• Would you be in favor of requiring a property value protection plan for homes within 5 miles of the project?
(For homeowners within the footprints of industrial wind factories, losing 10 to 40-plus percent of their home’s value – or being unable to sell it at all – can be financially devastating.)
• Would you be in favor of giving Apex LLC a Payment In Lieu of Tax agreement (which effectively shifts the burden of taxation on to local residents and small businesses) or would you prefer that Apex be required to pay its full taxable value?
(The town of Stafford, in Genesee County, has written an exemplary wind law requiring wind factories to pay their full taxable value.)
• Since all of New York state’s wind factories are averaging a pathetic 23 percent capacity factor while providing virtually no firm capacity (thus requiring equivalent “shadow capacity” from reliable generation sources, a redundancy we all pay for in our electric bills), do you think we should permanently disfigure our communities with such landscape-altering lemons?
Officials should also be learning from the expensive lessons that others who have already pursued this “green” energy boondoggle have experienced.
Here in Wyoming County, we now have 308 industrial wind turbines littering five townships on the west side of the Warsaw Valley, and negatively impacting all those for miles around. Wind factory towns may not have to pay any town tax for the 10- to 20-year life of the project (usually a couple hundred bucks a year, per household), but the costs we’re left dealing with far outweigh any short-term payoff!
1.) Wyoming County taxes have gone up every year over the past 12 years, concurrent with the proliferation of wind factories in the county. County tax went up another 9.68 percent this year.
2.) Wind factories are not paying their fair share of taxes, but instead “shift the burden of taxation on to local residents and small businesses.” (See Local Wind Subsidies: NYS’s Money-Road to Nowhere, http://www.masterresource.org/2012/08)
3.) The Town of Eagle, which has a wind project, was reassessed to what they were told was 100 percent of market value just last year, and had their assessments jacked up another 40 percent again this year.
4.) Few, if any, meaningful permanent jobs were created here; maybe a few for dead bird/bat picker-uppers.
5.) Nobody’s getting “free” or reduced-rate electricity here. In fact, electricity rates continue to skyrocket as billions more of our taxpayer and ratepayer dollars are thrown into the wind.
6.) Community relations have been ruined. People who used to be friends no longer speak. Even families have been divided.
7.) Habitat fragmentation associated with the miles and miles of industrial sprawl and access roads associated with wind factories has forever destroyed “the sense of place” that Wyoming County was famous for. Also, it is cited as one of the main reasons for species decline worldwide.
8.) Negative impacts from wind turbine-related “infrasound” have been documented worldwide. The mental and physical stress this places on those stuck living too close worsens after prolonged exposure and increased loss of proper sleep.
9.) Lawsuits persist.
10.) Wyoming County residents got stuck paying over $100,000 for a new emergency communications tower after the one we had didn’t work adequately after construction of Invenergy’s Orangeville project, and it wasn’t in Invenergy’s contract to cover it.
11.) The “flicker”/strobe effect created when the sun is behind the turbines, and the blinking red lights at night, drive some crazy. The light pollution in our night sky now looks like a cheap blinking Christmas tree spread out for miles.
12.) The population of Wyoming County has decreased by 2.2 percent since 2010. Many people have left because of the wind mess.
13.) The diffuse energy of wind cannot replace reliable, dispatchable, baseload generation sources, so consumers will pay double for the redundancy of wind.
Don’t be deceived by slyly worded sales propaganda! Do your own homework. Ask the right questions. Demand that your officials protect the health, safety and welfare of all of their constituents by saying “no” to the consumer fraud of industrial wind!
Mary Kay Barton is a retired New York State-certified health educator and environmentalist in Silver Lake, Wyoming County.
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