HENDERSON HARBOR – A flotilla of boats set off for Galloo Island on Thursday morning in protest of a planned wind farm on the island in Lake Ontario.
About 10 recreational cruisers carrying nearly two dozen people jetted through rocky waves at 7:30 a.m. past Hoveys and Stony islands to intercept state and local officials cruising to the island. Officials, including state administrative law judges, were surveying the island as part of the state Article 10 review for Apex Clean Energy’s Galloo Island Wind project.
Local boaters, primarily from or connected to Henderson, expressed their discontent with the project by waving signs reading “no wind,” “no industrial wind turbines” and “swindle,” with wind emphasized as officials passed them heading toward Gill Harbor on the south side of the island. The Henderson Business and Community Council organized Thursday’s protest, fearing the 108.9-megawatt project’s possible effect on property values, sunset views and wildlife inhabiting the islands, said Henderson resident Claudia J. Maurer.
“Everyone is concerned about 600-foot turbines on Galloo Island … It’s the destruction of this pristine island with over 400 deer, pheasants, turkeys and eagles,” she said. “I do believe in alternative energy, but not those wind monsters because educated people understand that wind energy is not the answer.”
Henderson residents, including fishing guides, have stood in opposition to the project for years at past informational meetings and through local acts of protest.
Peter M. Price, owner of Henderson Storage, joined the group of boaters Thursday, saying he believed Apex’s turbines harm the area’s natural beauty and dissuade fishermen from visiting.
“I’m not opposed to renewable energy. It’s just in our little town, it doesn’t fit,” he said. “It’s just Big Brother trying to drive a square peg in a round hole.”
Gail Smith, Clayton, rode out to Galloo Island with a friend and flew her bald eagle kite, harkening to recent concerns about the project potentially killing bald eagles on the island.
Her family has a summer home in Henderson, where she spent her childhood fishing around Stony and Galloo islands. She occasionally rereads “Fishing Days: Seven Essays by Robert Lansing,” which describes times the former secretary of state under President Woodrow Wilson fished around the islands with fellow former secretaries John Foster Dulles and John W. Foster.
Ms. Smith said she fears building the wind farm would scare away the kinds of fish these officials caught years before, as well as kill migrating birds including ducks, geese and bald eagles.
“Always, always, there have been eagles out there,” she said. “There’s some on Stoney. There’s some on Galloo now. We saw two eagles over Galloo this morning when we were out there.”
Administrative law judges invited representatives from the parties participating in the state review of Galloo Island Wind, such as the towns of Hounsfield and Henderson, to join them, Apex and any attending members of the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment on a tour of the island and surrounding areas Thursday.
Ms. Maurer, whose family has owned a camp on Stony Island for five generations, has teamed up with retired biologist Clifford P. Schneider, Wellesley Island, to form a party for the project review. State officials, however, told her only one person from each party could attend, she said. Instead, Ms. Maurer decided to participate in the protest.
She said she didn’t fear any possible repercussions from the siting board because “it’s a free country and we should have the right to show our opinion and express our opinion freely.”
“No matter where you put them on Lake Ontario, they’re wind monsters and (Gov. Andrew M.) Cuomo is putting them down here for his constituents in New York City,” she said, “politicians have allowed these wind companies to bully us.”
Apex has proposed building 30 turbines on the island that could include 600-foot-tall towers and blades as long as 180 feet. Each would generate 3.6 megawatts of power, which would be transmitted to shore on a 32-mile underwater cable.
Last week, a group of independent parties to the Galloo project application, which is before the state Board on Electric Generating Siting and the Environment, requested the project be denied because they claim Apex lied on the documents in the application.
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