We here in Somerset (and Yates) are being besieged by Apex Wind to “host” seventy 620-foot wind turbines here, being labeled as NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) because we are objecting so strongly and for so long (since October 2014). Maybe more of the public should know why.
Somerset is on the shore of Lake Ontario. We are located on a major flyway, where right now, in mid-March, you can see and hear literally thousands of migrating Canada geese who have arrived to rest. Swimming among the geese are all varieties of diving ducks, like Mergansers, American Golden Eyes, Old Squaws, and occasionally, Loons. The geese migrate at night, accompanied by a beautiful “racket” out there in the darkness. This week the Snow Geese have arrived, as well. Even the US Fish & Wildlife Service objects to industrial wind turbines so close to the lakeshore, where they will act as massive Cuisinarts to avian populations, both migrating and residential.
Why else would we object? Despite Apex labeling these as “annoyances”, there is proof, both scientifically and anecdotally, that infrasound, a sound below the level of human hearing, affects humans. People who live in wind projects attest to it inside their homes, as it affects sleep, affects cardio rhythms, and produces symptoms in some who are already prone to motion sickness. The infrasound has many more negative health effects, too numerous to list here. These towers–the height of the HSBC tower – will be close to homes. Wind energy companies typically attempt to “mitigate” these effects by paying for window blinds for residents, as if those cosmetics would alleviate invasive sound waves within a home.
It is being falsely circulated that residents here are against “green” energy. Yes, we have an existing coal plant that employs 100 people here. But we love the environment, and believe in renewable energy. In fact, Niagara County has the biggest renewable energy plant in the Robert Moses hydroelectric facility, from which, ironically, we are able to draw no electricity. Wind energy isn’t green at all, however, since wind is intermittent. All wind turbines have thousands of gallons of (fossil fuel) oil inside each. For them to be utilized they must have a stand-by reliable power source to kick in whenever the wind isn’t blowing. Those stand-by systems cannot be fired up instantly, but must be constantly “on” to be at the ready. That means that the Somerset coal plant must still be operating to provide backup. But Apex insists that wind energy is clean, free, and abundant. Not true.
Construction of wind turbines here will be anything but “green”, with four-story excavations for each turbine. A relatively short life-span of turbines is reminiscent of those huge TV dish antennas that used to sit in front yards, a testament that technology moves on, leaving relics. Turbines will pay only residents’ town taxes, no other levies. And a PILOT of $1.6M divided among school districts and municipalities does not amount to much, when one considers the true cost, both monetarily and in ways for which money cannot begin to compensate. Somerset is home to many summer homes, the Lighthouse Christian Camp, the scenic Golden Hill State Park. How are hulking steel towers with their whirring and blinking lights enhance those nighttime campfires? Money is not the answer.
The worst thing is, we have been denied the right to vote Apex away from our community because Gov. Cuomo and NYS enacted special legislation in 2011 known as Article 10. It means that when it comes to electrical generating facilities, Home Rule does not apply. The State Public Service Commission gets to decide. So in reality, what choice to we have but to petition the State and to inform residents that we love our town out here on the “frontier”. Somerset has enacted our own wind zoning law, our only allowable attempt to keep industrial wind turbines out of our town. Apex is hoping it will not hold up in court.
Somerset residents deserve the right to tell Apex to get packing back to Charlottesville, VA, and to decide for ourselves what is the right way to develop our community.
— Christine Bronson, Barker, NY
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