An eleven-year-old boy spoke to the Chautauqua County Legislature last week. “I live in the Town of Arkwright,” he began. “I’ve spent my 11 years on Earth in this town. My parents have worked so hard for the place we have. They’ve made the land that I live on home. And these wind turbines, they’re destroying it. My grandmother was born and lived briefly not even a half mile from where I live right now. I just can’t stand the thought of being forced from my home. And my town – by these windmills. I went out not two mornings ago, and I can’t even find peace and quiet outside without the sound of back-up alarms, bulldozers and cranes. Up on Straight Road there’s a giant crane already and they’re setting one up on Center Road. I don’t want to be forced from my home and I’m sure none of you would want to be forced from yours. Thank you for your time.”
The Arkwright boy has been living through the Arkwright Summit construction phase for almost a year, and doesn’t look forward to the wind turbines completion, and operation. There are three known industrial wind turbine factories slated for Chautauqua County. The first, Arkwright Summit, is presently demolishing 6500 acres of scenic forest and farmland adjacent to the Cardot Eastside Overland Trail system. The industrial nature of the project is evidenced by the hundreds of gravel trucks, cement mixers, bulldozers, cranes, gas tankers, steam shovels, and concrete grinders, visible along Center Rd (Rt 79) near Straight Rd. and Rt. 83. See for yourself or watch the 4-minute video on youtube on ‘chautauquaupdates’ called ‘Arkwright Summit, NY Wind’.
According to the Institute for Energy Research, the official efficiency rate for wind turbines in Western New York is only 24%. So when the capacity rate for the three known wind factories in the county is given as 128 megawatts for a 40,000-acre impact – the real figure is 30.72 mw. This equates to receipt of 24% of the money promised by turbine companies if payment is based on megawatts produced.
The electricity generator In Dunkirk occupies only 98 acres and is set to produce 435 megawatts of electricity using the newest, cleanest gas turbines available. Compare 40,000 acres for 30.72 mw to 98 acres for 435 mw of reliable, affordable, dispatchable electricity.
It takes 20 years to produce enough energy to equal the cost of the steel, concrete, and rare earth metals used to build each turbine, or “to break even”, said the president of Everpower Wind at a public hearing.
The turbines – 128 of them – 500′ tall in the three planned factories – are 75% subsidized by the state of New York, through taxes and hidden charges in utility bills.
The grid is not ready for wind. The infrastructure is not there. It will cost taxpayers billions to make it ready. These costs will continue to jeopardize the economic viability of New York.
Because wind power is unstorable and unreliable, the utilities must cycle gas/coal fired generators at all times to back up the intermittent wind. More money wasted and as records in Europe show, greater use of fossil fuels than if the turbines were not in the picture.
The net economic negatives include loss of farmland and farmers, reduced property values, loss of home owners, loss of tourism and outdoor recreation. The tax base is quickly eroded. Radio, TV and cell phone service are interrupted due to turbines – another economic impact. Emergency communications are no longer dependable which endangers the safety of the community. Radar is not usable near turbines. Micro climate drying effect on grapes and other crops is caused by the motion of blades. There are many health hazards associated with living near turbines as a result of audible noise, infrasound (inaudible noise and vibration) and flicker affect. Bird and bat chopping, and hostility between neighbors are consequences of turbines.
Frank Keating, former Governor of Oklahoma, said “Wind power was sold to us as a low-cost way to broaden our already robust energy and economic development program. It was supposed to create jobs and develop a more prosperous future for Oklahoma. “Signing this legislation was simply a mistake. What was promised to cost the state less than $2 million annually when I was in office has soared to $113 million for the 2014 tax year and is expected to cost billions in the future…essentially a blank check funded by taxpayers that goes to multibillion-dollar corporations based outside of Oklahoma and mostly located in foreign countries. It’s the worst kind of corporate handout.”
All over Chautauqua County, turbine companies may be talking to town boards, trying to sign them up before the Federal Production Tax Credits end. PTC’s subsidize them. It’s what keeps the Wall Street speculators collecting billions of tax handouts they garner from industrial wind. Arkwright, Cassadaga, Cherry Creek, Hanover, Villa Nova – what other communities in Chautauqua County are being targeted by Wall Street turbine speculators? Do the residents of those towns know what’s coming? One young boy in Arkwright can tell them what it’s like.
Mayville resident Karen Engstrom is a retired Chicago Tribune photo journalist and editor.
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