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Op-Ed: Proposed wind energy project concerns

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Concerned landowners raise alarm about potential wind turbine project in Wellsville/Andover/Independence, Public meeting December 9th

We are writing this letter to you regarding a proposed Industrial Wind Turbine Project, (IWTP), within Fulmer Valley. You may or may not be aware of this project, which is being targeted to be built within the towns of Wellsville, Andover and Independence. A Wind Project Developer, Liberty Power Company, of Ontario Canada, has sent letters to various landowners in the designated area to engage in property leases for the purpose of placing wind turbines on their respective properties. To date they have already met with Allegany County Officials and hosted an open meeting for stakeholders on November 10th to hear their proposition and answer questions from the audience. If you did not receive an invitation to attend, it’s possible your property is not a prime location for Liberty to build upon, but you could still be subject to the negative consequences of being close to a wind turbine.

Our purpose is to inform and educate you of what is really going on with this project and background on the industry at large. Additionally, we want to provide action items on what they can do to prevent the potential negative environmental, agricultural, societal and economic impact to our community and way of life as we currently enjoy it.

What’s driving this? What’s really going on?

As you may know, the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change was entered into force in December of 2016. Its goal was to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. To support this effort, the Federal and State Governments have put programs and incentives in place to deal with undesirable climate change. The race is on to limit global warming primarily via the reduction of fossil fuels and replace them with “Clean Energy” or “Renewables”. To achieve this long-term goal, their aim is to limit global peaking of greenhouse gases/carbon emissions as soon as possible to attain a climate neutral world by mid-century.

For NY State, the Public Service Commission approved a Clean Energy Standard adopting a goal whereby 50% of electricity consumed in NY by 2030 would be generated by renewable energy sources, (hence the “50 by 30” goal). Additionally, in 2019 former Governor Cuomo signed a law which committed our state to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and 70% renewable power by 2030. Thus, the birth of “Renewable” energy Companies and resources to achieve these aggressive goals. In Cuomo’s agenda for 2021 it states, ”Construction of a Green Transmission Superhighway to Bring Clean Energy Generated Upstate to Needed Areas Downstate.” This involves placing Industrial wind and solar energy projects here in WNY for areas downstate to get the energy it needs. In Upstate NY we already produce more energy than we consume by an excess of 30% and are already sending this excess power to other areas. So now they want to use our communities to build a 6,000+ acre IWTP, also referred to as a “wind farm,” with approximately 25 or more 650 foot industrial wind turbines so other areas can get the power they need. In return, we in this area will be left with the environmental burden, visual nuisance, noise pollution and loss of quiet enjoyment from an IWTP. Granted some will benefit financially from this but the majority of this community will not. What’s interesting to note is that major projects targeted for Long Island and the Hudson Valley were shot down by resistance from its citizens where the energy is needed the most in NY State. So now they have targeted our area because they still need the energy but don’t want these projects built in their communities.

Inconsistent power generated by these turbines are pumped into the grid, however the grid cannot handle this increased power load. In order to accommodate this new power source, other power sources need to be shut down temporarily. Rather than shutting down coal or natural gas fueled power facilities (these sources are not quick to turn on or off) the power sources that get turned off are hydro generation plants, one of the most consistent and plentiful renewable energy sources available!  Given this, how much further ahead are we in this “green energy” fight against reducing carbon emissions?

Unless the political landscape changes in NY State, the State is not going to back off it’s aggressive pursuit of its clean energy goals and the Developers will not stop pursuing building these wind and solar farms unless the people rise up and put up a fight. Collectively the people have the power but they have to unite, get organized and put a strategy in place to make it very difficult for these Developers to succeed.

So what will this cost and who is going to pay for it?

NY State is the primary force behind the financial incentives for Renewable Energy companies to build wind and solar farms across the state. Various programs were established that have offered “Energy” credits to Energy companies to help NY State meet its clean energy goals. NY State has provided production tax credits, emission reduction credits, renewable energy credits and grants to Wind Developers to build and maintain IWTP’s to hopefully minimize negative climate change while meeting the current demand for perceived clean energy. Solar and wind farms are potential options to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels for energy, but neither are consistent or reliable enough to completely replace existing energy producing resources. Wind and Solar come with different advantages and disadvantages from an operational, economic, environmental as well as agricultural perspective. And each of these options are still in their “infancy” with no real scientific data to confirm their effectiveness, when compared to other more traditional energy producers.

All of these subsidies from NY State are putting companies in business to propose, plan, construct and maintain so called “Green Energy” projects for the alleged benefit to society for years to come. A whole new “green” industry has been born, but is the “green” solely referring to the benefit to the environment or the money to be made by lobbyists, investors on Wall Street, State & Local governments, Wind/Solar Developers and a select few landowners?
 
So where is some of this money to build all these green energy vehicles coming from? The major source of funding for developers and their Clean Energy projects comes from subsidies provided by NYSERDA, (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority). When you get a chance, take a look at your gas and/or electric bill and look for a line item that displays an SBC charge. SBC stands for Societal Benefits Charge that every electricity and natural gas customer pays. The amount may reflect a nominal fee of several dollars. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you add up the millions of customers who pay that small fee every month, it turns out to be about $360 to $500 Million dollars generated each year. That money goes to and is controlled by NYSERDA under the authority of the Governor of NY and can be used at his/her discretion, bypassing any political due process. That’s your money the State is using to fund Developers to build wind and solar farms.

Grants are another revenue source NY State has available for these Developers of wind farms. The State has grant programs that provide funds to Developers up to 50% of labor costs and 50% of production costs. These are grants NOT loans, so they do not have to be paid back. Again, those are your tax dollars paying the bill for this. So, if we’re paying for all this, what’s it costing us and are we getting a good return?

Claims of savings from renewables are endless yet the jury is still out on this and it’s not looking very good. Watch and listen to a 6-minute video from Robert Bryce, a leading author on the Energy Industry, testifying in front of the US Senate Energy Committee on why energy prices are soaring:  https://youtu.be/PlD82k1oKns  Youtube: Author Robert Bryce Testifies on Why Energy Prices Are Soaring

In an article recently published in the Post Journal from Jamestown NY, the author states, “The cost of renewable energy credits and zero emission credits has increased from $1.6 million in 2019 to $2.6 million in 2022, a 62.5% increase.” For more on what renewable energy is costing taxpayers, you will want to read the entire article:  https://www.post-journal.com/opinion/in-our-opinion/2021/12/states-green-energy-goals-come-home-to-roost-in-your-bpu-bills/?fbclid=IwAR18lmqYLrvNhssenBSMKr-T5S_yAvQI9lSDPgqcgcZp3FdevIhk60rJsgc    Google: Jamestown Post Journal- State Clean Energy Standard Projected To Cost BPU $2.6 million Next Year.

This seems pretty expensive for an inconsistent and unreliable energy source. So far, it appears the real cost of renewables doesn’t reduce our costs the way the State and Developers claim they can and there is more evidence we now have that energy costs are rising and renewables are a major contributor to energy price increases.

So where does that leave you, the homeowner, within a designated area for a proposed IWTP? You have a decision to make on whether you want this built in your community or not as it will stay for at least 30 years. And time is of the essence, as evidenced by the last 2 projects in Cattaraugus County, where many residents living within that designated IWTP area were never informed until after the developer had signed leases. They were never given a chance to have a voice and are now left living with the environmental and societal burden, noise and visual pollution of an IWTP.

Here is a link referencing a story on what has taken place in Ontario Canada with regards to an ITWP:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55-jBCjtJ88&t=2373s  You Tube: Down Wind A wind farm documentary

Some questions to ponder:

  • Why do we need an IWTP in Fulmer Valley when upstate NY already produces more electrical power than it needs?
  • Why should we bear the environmental burden of this IWTP when we don’t get the benefit of the energy it produces? It all goes somewhere else.
  • Why should tax and rate payers be burdened with unproven technology just because lobbyists have greased the skids of our government officials?
  • Does the State and these renewable energy companies really have the community’s best interest in mind as they claim? Or are they taking advantage of all the subsidies and free money to build a business at the taxpayers expense?
  • Do we even have a wind law in our town to ensure the health and economic welfare of the community will be best served if this project gets approved?
  • What scientific proof/empirical data has been provided to show these “renewable resources” actually work as they claim and are getting the results we desire?
  • What is the true cost of these proposed projects and do they outweigh the actual benefits received for the community?
  • Of the existing IWTPs that have been put in operation, what true benefits have been derived within the communities they have been placed?
  • What are the actual effects on the environment, the economy and the communities where IWTPs have been put in place? What proof can they offer us?
  • If the political landscape changes and a new administration discontinues these subsidies what will happen to the Developers and the ongoing maintenance of these IWTPs? Who will be responsible for taking these turbines down and returning our properties back to their original condition and where will the waste be taken?
  • What are the State and Wind/Solar Developers NOT telling us about regarding the negative and/or undesirable consequences of these projects? Is it build at all costs?

 What you can do to help stop a train wreck before it happens:

  1. Attend the upcoming meeting December 9th @ 7 PM for a proposed wind law in the Town of Independence. The meeting will be held at the Independence Town Hall, 887 Marietta Avenue in Whitesville.
  2. Contact your county and town officials as soon as possible and speak up. (See the provided list of County Legislators and Local Town Officials). The Developer is already talking to them and other landowners so they can begin the process to build their IWTP. If you do not want this to happen you need to act now. These Developers have a lot of power and backing from the State to get this project completed. Your best shot to delay or stop it from happening is in the early stages before a permit is applied for by the Developer.
    1. Express your concerns and get your questions answered about what is really going on.
    1. Request the Town Officials create a wind law for your township that protects the interest of the community, landowners and residents.  Please click on the following link to review a sample wind law that was created to serve in the best interest of the community it was written for. This may serve as a reference for our communities: https://docs.wind-watch.org/Farmersville-law-2020.pdf
    1. If you are opposed to this project, let your elected officials know that you are opposed to an IWTP/wind farm that does not make good economic and/or, environmental sense. Get on the agenda at town meetings to state your position.
    1. Challenge them to not just look at the economic benefit offered from the Developers, but look closely at the health hazards, noise and adverse environmental impact these IWTPs create.
    1. Hold your elected officials accountable to serve and protect the people, not the Developers
  3. Start a petition and get it signed by as many citizens in your community opposed to this project and present it to your Town and County Officials. Do not wait! The sooner you act the better. The people who will suffer the most are those who have to live next to or near a property with turbines. You will live with the visual and noise pollution with little or no benefit.
  4. Conduct an ongoing information/awareness campaign for others in your community
  5. Get others involved to speak up if they are opposed. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far…go together!
  6. Get educated, get organized and get busy!
    1. Get the facts and understand the pros and cons of a project of this magnitude.
    1. Go to other areas where these wind farms are in place and see what the experience has been for those living with a wind farm in their community.
    1. Make a stand if you are against this and be willing to get involved to ensure a favorable outcome for you, your family and your community.

In conclusion, given the long-term effects our community will bear from this or other proposed wind projects, many factors need to be heavily considered including the facts that we live here, we work here, our families are raised here and every aspect about these IWTPs can impact our lives and futures on many different levels.  Peaceful enjoyment, land values, family legacies, energy costs, environmental impacts and our communities are all at stake.

Respectfully,

Jerome Lojacono, Jeremiah Bretl, Tony Lojacono and other Concerned Citizens of Andover, Independence and Wellsville.

To inquire and find out more: [email protected]

Town Board Names, Phone and email addresses

Town of Wellsville:
Town Board Meetings are held the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 PM

SUPERVISOR            Shad Alsworth                [email protected]    
COUNCIL MEMBER  Mike Miller                     [email protected]    
COUNCIL MEMBER Patty Graves                  [email protected]      
COUNCIL MEMBER Jesse Case [email protected]

2600 Tarantine Blvd Wellsville, NY 14895

585-593-1780

Town of independence:

Town Board Meetings are held the 2nd Thursday  of the month at 7:00 PM

SUPERVISOR Jeri Reichman | 607-356-3193
COUNCIL MEMBER Kimberly Rounds-Howe | 607-356-3377
COUNCIL MEMBER Bill Meunier | 607-356-3606
COUNCIL MEMBER Robert Ellison | 607-356-3608
COUNCIL MEMBER Duane Brubaker | 607-356-3608

887 Marietta Avenue
Whitesville, New York, 14897

Town Clerk Jasmine Bledsoe 607-356-3608  M & W 8:30-1:30pm  Thursday 2-5pm

Town of Andover:

Town Board Meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:00 PM

TOWN SUPERVISOR Gus Weber
DEPUTY SUPERVISOR Joe Kent
COUNCILMAN Wayne Grant
COUNCILWOMAN Heather Simon
COUNCILMAN Matthew Zengerle


22 E. Greenwood Street,

PO Box 777, Andover NY 14806  

607-478-8446   Fax. 607-478-8664

Town Clerk Tasha Rossrucker,    M & F 8am to noon Tuesday 4-6pm

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