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Wind turbines are politically motivated energy goal

In response to the March 15-22 North Country This Week Letter to the Editor: “Proposed Wind Farms: Change Is Never Easy: apparently Iberdrola Renewables is feeling a need to ramp up their messaging operation in St. Lawrence County.

Bill starts out making essentially the same tired old argument that wind developers have been making to hesitant community members for a long time. They try to tell us that we are stubborn fuddy-duddies resistant to change and progress. Often that point takes the form of telling us that back in the late 1800s people were upset over the unsightliness of telegraph poles that were going up. But after a while, they assure us, folks didn’t even notice anymore that the telegraph poles were there. They got used to them and quickly became a non-issue.

So too – – they want us to believe – – that 500 foot plus spinning blinking (often noisy) machines will blend into the unnoticed backdrop of our daily lives.

They want us to believe that any instance of severe weather – or lack of severe weather, such as last summer’s dry spell – indicates that we are undergoing accelerated climate change. And further, they want us to believe that a sprinkling of wind farms across upstate New York are going to have an effect on changing the global climate.

We would have to pretty much carpet bomb vast swaths of upstate New York with wind turbines to meet a politically motivated energy goal that will serve only political purposes. Do most residents of Hopkinton and Parishville really want to turn over their communities to serve that purpose?

Iberdrola Renewables and the letter writer want us to start feeling bad about ourselves for being anti-progress. Nice try. In fact, when wind industry messaging becomes this intellectually insulting it is counterproductive to their purposes. But they don’t seem to get that yet.

The letter tries to suggest to us that wind is an economically viable form of generating electric power. Maybe Bill doesn’t know better than that, but Iberdrola Renewables certainly knows better than that. Not even close. The wind industry needs every federal, state and local tax break and subsidy it can get in order to make the business math work. It is no overstatement to say that wind is an industry that is built on siphoning public money for private profit. Understand this. It is a flat out hard fact. There is not one utility scale wind project that has ever been built in the United States that was not the beneficiary of federal tax credits as well as deeply discounted local school and property tax concessions – typically in the form of a PILOT. As one wind industry executive put it, “No PILOT – No project.”

Even if a wind developer did find that they could afford to build the project subject to full industrial taxation, they would never do it. To do that would set a precedent throughout the wind industry that no wind developer wants to set. To repeat, no wind developer in the United States has ever been required to pay local taxes that any other industrial or commercial concern would be required to pay.

No wonder Iberdrola is calling on their local mouthpieces to say something, upon hearing that St. Lawrence County residents are questioning the need for a PILOT. A PILOT is not just a little frosting on the cake for Iberdrola Renewables. They have to have it and they will insist on having it on their terms.

The wind industry keeps talking about the technical efficiencies that are being brought to bear to make wind power generation more economical. The author of the letter dutifully makes that point too. What Bill wasn’t saying is that the only increased technical efficiencies are the result of the much larger wind turbines that are presently becoming the norm.

The wind turbines that many may have seen on the Tug Hill, on Wolfe Island, or up in Franklin and Clinton Counties are much smaller than what Iberdrola Renewables will be sticking in the ground in Hopkinton and Parishville if they get their way. Bigger swept rotor area and taller turbine towers that reach higher into the air are more efficient for obvious reasons. They are also, just as obviously, even more visually intrusive.

I am a non-participating landowner.

Gary Snell