What does the withdrawal of the Apex’s Galloo Island industrial wind project have to say about their project proposed in Somerset and Yates? Both are proposed along the shores of Lake Ontario in a migratory bird and raptor flyway. The Lighthouse Wind project is a migratory stopover location where birds land in the morning and rise in the evening to continue their journey, placing them at risk of collision with turbine blades.
They are both rural areas with seasonal tourists. These quiet places are heavily impacted when nighttime noise increases sharply as happens with industrial wind turbines. In the case of Galloo Island a small group of citizens reviewed the data that Apex provided and through their vigilance discovered that Apex failed to reveal an eagle nest. Apex did not state the reason for their withdrawal, but the discovery of this omission caused state agencies to back out of agreements regarding needed studies and put the project on the path to further studies.
The Galloo Island project was to be located on the island providing some setback from residents in the impacted towns. Yet, a real estate study of the area found a possible $40 million decrease in property value should the project be built.
Unlike the Galloo Island project, the near 600-foot tall turbines in the Lighthouse Wind project are proposed to be as close as 650 feet from the properties of non-lease signer citizens. And with these turbines so close what will the impact on rural property value be, especially rural property where the view and quiet setting are part of the value of the property?
Most importantly, the setbacks in Lighthouse Wind are not in compliance with the town regulations that were established to protect the health, safety, environment and property of residents. If the setbacks are such that the project cannot be configured to fit in these towns, this does not indicate a problem with the setbacks, but with the project.
The state, through its Clean Energy Standard, has selected utility scale industrial wind as a “winner” in the renewable energy push, although other more environmentally friendly options exist. Rural upstate communities, which are already utilizing 88 percent non-fossil fuel energy sources, bear 100 percent of the burden of these sprawling industrial projects to meet the downstate energy needs, which are currently 70 percent fossil fuel-based. This encourages the production of energy far from the energy need.
Communities must be given the opportunity to determine what efforts are best suited to their locality. Current New York incentives are luring developers into rural towns and then Article 10 is structured to mandate that these projects proceed.
As Apex’s project is currently proposed it does not meet the requirements of our town laws and, as the Galloo Island project, should also be withdrawn. Until that time citizens of Yates and Somerset will continue our involvement and vigilance.
Kate Kremer is vice president of Save Ontario Shores, Inc.