LYNDONVILLE – When the first word of a potential wind energy development arrived, Susan Campbell went on an information binge.
Campbell, who lives in Lyndonville near the proposed Lighthouse Wind project, said she dove into any source she could find about wind energy.
She sought out groups supporting it and opposing it, websites trying to provide a middle-ground view on land use, health and economic issues; and attended open houses in Somerset and Yates.
“I compiled as much information as I could,” Campbell said.
It’s an endeavor that hundreds of people in Orleans County and neighboring Niagara County have pursued in the past year, one that has split them into three camps.
Some have concluded the project would be harmful to their communities, their properties or their quality-of-life and oppose it – 80 percent of the respondents to a survey conducted by Save Ontario Shores, a group opposed to the project, said they fit that category.
Others remain undecided or are still seeking more information.
Campbell did her research, and came out a full-fledged supporter of wind energy and Lighthouse Wind. She was impressed by the developers, the need for new energy sources and favors wind over solar energy because it uses less viable farmland.
“I love windmills, the way they look, they give me a peaceful feeling,” Campbell said. “It’s important to go to clean, renewable energy. This would bring money into our community as well as people to our community.”
“If there was a way to have a windmill, I’d do it,” said Campbell, who does not own land suitable for a turbine. “Not for the money, but as an environmentally-positive way to (produce energy).”
Amid a flurry of campaigns at the political and personal level over wind energy in Orleans and Niagara counties, supporters feel they are underestimated but active.
Apex Clean Energy, the company pursuing a 200-megawatt wind farm in northwestern Yates and northeastern Somerset, says support continues to grow for the project from landowners and residents.
Apex announced Monday they have signed up “well over 6,000 acres” for potential turbine sites – about half of the land needed for the project as currently planned; and sufficient enough for a “viable project.”
The Charlottesville, Va., firm expects more to come after when a scoping statement is filed with state regulators within the next month.
“Support for Lighthouse Wind is absolutely growing in this community,” said Dan Fitzgerald, Lighthouse Wind’s senior development manager. “As harvest time comes to a close, we expect more of the farming families who support this project to become engaged in this conversation.”
The scoping statement’s filing is a crucial step in the siting process, triggering state action to form a committee to review the project and presenting a wave of information on environmental and economic factors.
Campbell has done her own push, talking with neighbors and on social media about wind energy. She’s hosted meetings at her home for undecided friends to hear her case.
She’s now awaiting a second survey, one being developed by Yates, S.O.S. and Apex, to give a clearer view of the townspeople’s feelings.
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