YATES – Following a bill introduced by Chris Collins on the federal level in November 2016 – that any new wind turbines located within a 40-mile radius of a military installation will be deemed ineligible for renewable energy tax credits – state Sen. Rob Ortt introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make it illegal to erect wind turbines within 40 miles of military installations.
“Obviously this legislation is focused on protecting (the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station),” Ortt said. “So really what we are looking to do is mirror (Congressman Collin’s) efforts on the federal level at the state level because … we both feel these proposed wind turbines ultimately could absolutely affect current, and most importantly, future missions that could come to the base.”
The wind project which Ortt referred to is Lighthouse Wind, where Apex Clean Energy has proposed to construct approximately 70 wind turbines more than 600 feet high in the towns of Yates and Somerset.
The state senator admitted the state process to pass the bill in New York will be a steeper climb due to current climate regarding wind energy in New York as opposed to nationwide.
“I have to try to convince a lot of people from downstate or New York City area on some level to support this legislation. I’ll have to hope the governor might sign it despite the fact many of those people including the governor have been ardent supporters of wind and wind projects,” he said. “I think it’s important (to support this bill) because I represent these communities. By and large, from the majority of folks I have spoken to … direct a lot of opposition to this proposed project. Those are the people I work for.”
Ortt said it wasn’t just important to show support for the federal bill, but for those who have been speaking loudly and clearly in direct opposition to the wind project.
“As more data is emerging showing industrial wind turbines interfere with radar, we as a community have to proceed with the greatest caution. This is about saving an air base which is the largest employer in Niagara County, with more than 3,000 jobs,” Pam Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, said in a press release. “Save Ontario Shores is grateful that Sen. Ortt has taken a leadership role in protecting this regional asset.”
Cat Mosley, public affairs manager for Apex, said Apex Clean Energy takes the safety and readiness of the military seriously, and it works closely with the Department of Defense and its services to ensure their wind energy facilities do not adversely impact military missions.
“Lighthouse Wind has received a letter directly from the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse stating the project is ‘unlikely to impact military testing or training operations in the area.’ More recently, a top official at NFARS confirmed that the base’s new KC-135 mission makes the wind turbines a nonissue for the base,” she said. “According to the military’s own experts, Niagara County residents can be confident that Lighthouse Wind will pose no current or projected mission impact on Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which is more than 20 miles from the Lighthouse Wind project area.”
What Mosley is referring to can be read about in an article The Daily News wrote back in October: www.thedailynewsonline.com/bdn01/niagara-falls-air-reserve-station-will-be-switching-flight-missions-20161025&;template.
Mosley finished saying Lighthouse Wind is in the pre-application phase, and as such has not proposed specific turbine models or heights as of yet. When this final proposal is made, the DoD will have the chance to weigh in again with their approvals through the review system.
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