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Critical public hearings Tuesday on Alle-Catt wind turbine project

This coming Tuesday will be the only chance we will have to tell state regulators about what we think about our small towns and county being industrialized and colonized by an out-of-state wind developer conglomerate – the so called Alle-Catt wind turbine facility.

At 1:30 p.m. in the Arcade Fire Hall, 145 North St., and at 6 p.m. in the Pioneer High School auditorium, 12145 County Line Road, Yorkshire, the New York State Department of Public Service Siting Board will conduct public hearings and take comments, then they will go back to New York City and Albany to decide our collective fate.

These windmills are close to 600-foot monstrous, offshore industrial power plants that produce infrasound that travels far distances and that will be able to be seen from Letchworth State Park.

At least 117 of them will be crammed into six small rural towns that are well-populated – 117 blinking red lights that will light up the country night sky for the next 40 years. Plus, as just happened in another wind project, the developer could later come back just prior to construction and ask for 725-foot turbines or 800-footers – the next generation of wind turbines already being tested.

IF YOU THINK you are lucky that your town is not slated for this project and this does not concern you, do not count your chickens yet. In order for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reach his ridiculous mandate of renewables (see the New York Post article of May 31, 2019, “Cuomo’s Renewable Fiasco”) there will need to be many, many more projects just like this. Our Upstate counties and towns, being rural and economically challenged, are being systematically targeted by developers mining for lucrative taxpayer subsidies. Without your tax dollars subsidizing these projects and without agreements from the local county governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to give favorable tax breaks, these projects just cannot happen, as they are fiscally unsound and cannot stand on their own.

These are not “green.” Anyone who thinks so, or says so, is either making money in some way from this project and it is in their financial interest to not speak or hear the truth, or they are grossly uninformed. As Gary Abraham, the noted Article 10 lawyer representing significant numbers of community groups, has stated, 20 wind projects became operational in New York prior to this current process with this siting board. The state Department of Environmental Conservation states that these projects “are operating with a rated capacity of a little more than 1,812 MW, approximately 2.6% of all the electric power available from generation facilities in New York.”

WIND PROJECTS are a total scam on the taxpayers and on the towns that are duped into hosting them with the promise of “free money” without thought as to how the project will actually be an economic detriment to the community once all of the true “costs” of hosting a project are accounted for: serious and provable decline in surrounding property values, loss of raptors and bats that suppress naturally pests and agricultural parasites, significant and provable loss of tourism, road destruction, wetland loss, and in this case thousands of acres of forest (natural carbon sequesterers) being bulldozed as well as the fragmentation of over 20,000 acres of forested lands.

This annual loss has been estimated at $4 million to $10 million.

Also, it is well-hidden in the plans of this project, but the developer plans to take down state forest as well so that one leaseholder can get two turbines on her property and be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Apart from questionable emissions-reduction benefits, consider a viewscape totally out of character for the community, a soundscape that exposes a large number of seasonal and permanent homeowners to nuisance-level noise – six or more decibels above the pre-project sound levels, the standard adopted historically in power plant siting cases, and recognized in NYSDEC’s noise guidance – and fewer tourists and seasonal residents.

Few leaseholders in this project actually live where the turbines are going and those who do are making sure that the turbines they are inflicting on their neighbors – at as close as 660 feet to their neighbor’s property line – are thousands of feet away from their personal residences.

YOU CANNOT count on your town board to protect you, either, as you will find, like the towns of Freedom, Centerville, Farmersville and Rushford did, that town officials are compromised, with either themselves having signed leases for the project or some close family member who has. Then they will still go ahead and participate in wind law discussions and even vote on the wind law that the developer has insisted they pass.

For those who listen to the developer saying this project is “going to happen,” that is simply untrue and relies upon this developer being granted a “PILOT,” or “payment in lieu of taxes.” We do have a say, and the Cattaraugus County Legislature has a say and has acted to protect your tax money to make sure these projects are fully taxed by the Industrial Development Agency (We don’t get property tax breaks, why should a billion-dollar company get one?).

Full taxation means no dollars for any host town under any host community agreement as there will be none remaining in the developer’s budget, and the project would not be economically feasible. Thus, it will not be built.

Stand up to the insanity and corruption of the Alle-Catt project and be heard on Tuesday – or forever hold your peace.

(Ginger Schroder is an attorney and Farmersville town resident representing Farmersville United and Freedom United.)