At Somerset and Yates Town Board meetings held on July 11 and July 12, respectively, residents heard from the newest face of Apex Clean Energy, Mr. Paul Williamson, who allowed questions about what lies in store if Apex receives permission from the NYS Department of Public Service Siting Board to proceed with forty-seven 600-foot industrial wind turbines in our towns. Allow me to describe what he said.
From the outset, this Apex representative used the phrases that indicate that the project is about money: money for leaseholders, money for the towns and villages, money for the school districts, discretionary funds from host community agreements, and much more. I heard repeatedly “economic resource,” “flexibility to use the money,” “highly attractive investment,” “influx of investment,” etc. And, of course, there would be fabulous profits to be reaped by Apex, the bottom line. Those profits are the reason that our towns now enter year four of this occupying siege by this unethical developer.
Despite the questions lobbed at Mr. Williamson, the theme of his responses kept returning to the idea of money. Residents demanded to know about the eagle kill permits Apex will be applying for from the federal government, construction wastes that will empty into our sewer lines, road restoration, buried and leaching concrete into our streams leading to Lake Ontario, bonds for decommissioning in twenty years, baseline community health studies (if there are no issues from infrasound as Apex insists, why not?), noise, local laws, and so many other concerns. The sessions at both town meetings totaled almost five hours.
Mr. Williamson said that Apex would be still seeking to override our local laws when Apex files its application, since setbacks, noise, and tower height regulations would impede this project that would shower such economic benefits on Somerset and Yates.
Over and over residents repeated the same idea: that we are not interested in the money that would turn these beautiful lakeshore towns and the Golden Hill State Park perimeter into an industrial area, sacrificing the sum total of what people live here for. One by one residents who stood up to ask questions sought to reinforce to Mr. Williamson that we live here for the quiet, the night sky, the rural atmosphere, the sounds of birds and lake waves, and so much more that cannot be bought, and once destroyed, cannot be replaced by any “influx of investment.” We are on guard to protect our own health and safety.
Why is it that as residents in the State of New York, we are reduced to begging a corporation not to destroy us with a project of such enormity that it will forever alter these towns for generations to come?
The Siting Board must realize that it is both demoralizing and devastating that despite two election cycles here – now with ten town board members firmly opposing Apex in Somerset and Yates – with several surveys indicating well over 70% resident opposition, environmental groups’ outcries, our towns must outlay precious taxpayer dollars to fight off this company from erecting these monstrous IWTs close to our homes.
This is a moral outrage: wrong for citizens that they must accept the ruination of their town by a subsidy-driven project, funded by their own federal and state taxes, and ratepayer charges and surcharges. We are attempting to fight this off with all of our might and our monies, through official means like taxes, and through voluntary measures like donations to grassroots groups like Save Ontario Shores. Rallies, basket auctions, information sessions, and continued presence at monthly town board meetings have been a way of life here since the fall of 2014, when Apex announced its intention to build Lighthouse Wind.
At the conclusion of the Yates town meeting, Mr. Williamson was asked by the board to communicate to Apex CEO Mr. Mark Goodwin, a message from our towns that we oppose Apex’s imposition. We continue to be stunned and appalled by the arrogance of interloper-Apex’s proceeding as if there was no opposition to Lighthouse Wind. It is a slap in the face to all here who want to preserve what we have. The message is: it is not about the money.
Town of Somerset
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