The Renewables on the Ground Roundtable, co-chaired by the Nature Conservancy and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, just released its final report in Albany last month. Readers beware. I participated in most of the year-long series of meetings. I implore Buffalo News readers, the round table participants, the state agencies responsible for siting renewable energy projects, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and all New Yorkers seeking the common good to avoid accepting the false narrative of a broad consensus in the final report.
Despite the good faith efforts of many of the round table participants, key questions remain.
Why was there a lack of rural upstate participation in the round table when it is those communities that will be facing industrial wind turbine projects? Why did the round table assume that every community would embrace industrial wind turbines if only they were provided enough “education?” Why wouldn’t industrial wind developers earnestly strive to earn a social license by achieving “broad stakeholder agreement” with host communities, conservationists and state agencies concerning reasonable zoning regulations, stipulations and study methodologies?
What environmental and procedural justice safeguards will protect rural towns from suffering inequities in the face of poorly sited industrial wind turbine projects?
Finally, who should decide how each New York town will contribute to a more sustainable future? If your answer is the wind turbine company and the leaseholders, then you invite division, acrimony and toxicity, and you underestimate the power of subsidiarity, home rule and – most importantly – the people.
Jim Simon, Supervisor
Town of Yates