Effects on fish, birds and tourism were the primary concerns of commenters at a public session about the Galloo Island wind farm project Oct. 17 in Oswego City Hall.
The comments were very similar to those given at a previous comment session on the project held the night before in the town of Hounsfield, Jefferson County. Nearly 450 comments have been written online about the project and they echo many of the same issues.
Residents, seasonal folks and those who work on Lake Ontario had a chance to voice concerns and ask questions about the proposal by Charlottesville, Va.-based Apex Clean Energy to erect 30 turbines and an electric substation on Galloo Island in Lake Ontario and run a 33-mile-long, 138-kilovolt underwater transmission line connecting the island substation to a National Grid substation at 110 Mitchell St., Oswego.
About 20 people attended the informational meeting in Oswego held before the comment session and most stayed for the comment session held right after the informational meeting.
Carol Bain, of Oswego, told those at the meeting she is concerned about many aspects of the wind project.
“The magnetic fields, are they affecting your body,” she said. “I have concerns about the wind mills because it’s (Galloo Island) a nesting area for eagles and other birds. It’s also in the flyway (for the birds). I worry about disease in birds. If it changes where the birds fly, will they die out? I worry about that.”
Bain also said she is concerned about whether the cable could break once it is buried in the bottom of the lake and “will the cable affect people and will the cable kill the fish?”
Mark Bosco, of Baldwinsville, Onondaga County, said “tourism is the most important industry we have” and he is concerned the project “is too much of a risk for fishing.”
Sheila Owen, of Mannsville, Jefferson County, said she is all for clean energy, but she is worried about the Galloo Island wind project. She wondered if anyone with Apex or the state Public Service Commission – which has to decide on whether the project moves forward – had read studies about Lake Ontario and wind farms and taken the information under advisement.
She said a study by the University of Michigan (Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project) showed Lake Ontario to be one of the most stressed great lakes and asked, “why would we want to introduce more stress to the lake” through this wind mill project?
“I am worried about the loss of a world-class fishery,” she said. “We should not allow large corporations to take any more chances with our environment.”
Thomas Halstead, of Richland, was the one speaker who was in favor of the Galloo Island project.
He works for Local 158 of the International Union of Operating Engineers and its 4,000 members who do a lot of work on wind farm projects throughout the state.
He said he has never seen a problem with a transmission cable in a wind project and he’s never seen a problem with birds at a wind farm site.
“I think it’s good for our area,” he said, noting it will add to the tax base and could bring additional tourism to the region with those who want to see the wind turbines in action.
Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex, said numerous studies have been done on the Lake Ontario fishery, vegetation, coastal wildlife and marine activity to ensure the wind turbines and the underwater cable do not disrupt or harm fish, the environment, wetlands or boating in the area. He said the turbines won’t be visible from Oswego area parks or even Fort Ontario so they won’t spoil the magnificent views Oswego is known for.
He also said sonar was used to look at the bottom of the lake to see if there are any shipwrecks in the area. He said two were found so the route where the cable is going to be placed was relocated so it is not near any of these shipwrecks.
Tom Allen, who fishes throughout Lake Ontario and in numerous tournaments and owns A-Tom-Mik Trolling Flies, said he came to the informational meeting to hear about the project and see if all bases had been covered to protect the fishery. He wondered if there would be any emissions from the cable that might keep fish away from that area of the lake, especially if salmon go to that area to spawn.
Public comments on the Galloo Island wind project must be presented by Nov. 16. Anyone who could not attend the comment session also may provide comments online at http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/CaseMaster.aspx?MatterCaseNo=15-F-0327, by calling (800) 335-2120, or emailing them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the Apex Clean Energy application filing with the PSC, the company anticipates beginning construction of the Galloo Island Wind Energy Facility and related transmission facility in 2019, with construction of the transmission facility expected to last about nine months.
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