BARKER – Pamela Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, Inc., recently sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterating SOS’s concern about an industrial-scale wind farm possibly threatening the future of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy LLC’s preliminary proposal for Project Lighthouse Wind calls for installation of up to 70 wind turbines, exceeding 600 feet in height, over a 12-mile swath of land in Somerset and Yates.
The company estimated the installation could generate 200 megawatts of electricity. Lighthouse Wind is its response to Cuomo’s 2015 call for half of the state’s energy supply to come from renewable sources by 2030.
SOS members “have a lot of concerns” about wind energy generation, Atwater said. “There are issues with noise, infrasound and air pressure. The size of these – the impact of having industrial machines in a rural setting – is another concern.”
Yet another professed concern of SOS is the potential effects of a wind farm on NFARS, which is the largest employer in Niagara County.
In her letter to Cuomo, Atwater wrote, Apex’s turbines “could be seen as an encroachment on flight and/or radar operation” at the air base, and pointed out a similar concern was expressed by an official at Fort Drum reacting to an Apex-pitched 30-turbine wind farm on Galloo Island near Sackets Harbor. Atwater directed attention to a May 5 article in the Watertown Daily Times in which Fort Drum spokesman Julie A. Halpin said Apex’s project there “would have an impact on radar as it increases the clutter on the scope.”
Atwater’s letter urged Cuomo to ask the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to thoroughly investigate “all potential impacts and encroachments this project could have on current and future mission at NFARS.”
The siting board is composed of seven members, five of whom are appointed by the governor. The board has the power to override local laws pertaining to energy facilities and has the final say whether Project Lighthouse Wind can be erected.
“If a future BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) were to deem this massive industrial wind project an encroachment and the base were to lose this valuable ‘encroachment-free’ designation, NFARS might not be able to avoid a third closure recommendation,” Atwater’s letter said.
Since Atwater sent her letter, President Donald Trump proposed a 2018 federal budget that calls for a round of base closures and realignments in 2021.
But, this past October, Col. Joseph D. Janik, operations group commander for the 914th Airlift Wing, told the Buffalo News that Lighthouse Wind would be a “non-issue” for the base, whose mission has changed from flying C-130 transport planes to KC-135 tankers.
Apex is troubled by Atwater’s letter to Cuomo, company spokesman Cat Mosley said on Tuesday.
“The continued fear mongering regarding a potential BRAC is unfounded and sensationalized. We are frustrated (that) misinformation about this continues to be falsely spread,” Mosley said.
Cuomo’s office confirmed receipt of Atwater’s letter but has yet to reply to it. A spokesman said on Monday that the letter was under review.
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