Sunday, April 30, 2006

Wall Street Reaps Big Bucks from the Wind

The latest rage out of the boiler room sharks that hawk new equity issues touts alternative energy. The hype that is coming out of Wall Street resembles the internet band wagon before the bust. Investors are getting calls from brokers about unit trusts, mutual funds and hot shares. Goldman Sachs rushes to finance the offers with their expertise – using other peoples’ money. And why not when the taxpayer is being used as the patsy to subsidize the greed and insatiable appetite of the vultures that swarm around looking for an easy meal.

Understand from the outset, that producing useful energy is not the prime objective of wind projects. Big business sees an opportunity to cash in big time! Politicians scurry around to deposit all those fresh campaign contributions and place their name on legislation written by industry lobbyists. Companies are hastily organized for this 21st century Oklahoma land rush that is only open to approved corporate partners. The apologists for this shady scheme to impose corporate dominance over agriculture land use public apprehension as the tool to serve their faceless bankers.

In late June 2005 a conference entitled "Renewable Energy Finance Forum - Wall Street" co-sponsored by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Euromoney Energy Events, a subsidiary of Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC addresses wind projects. Wall Street is clearly kicking into a higher gear in response to the new policies, some coming from Washington, some from the states, some from Europe, and some from multinational corporations. Leadership is emerging from commercial bankers, institutional investors, pension funds, venture capitalists, insurance companies, and corporate leaders who are seeing public sentiment shift towards new actions, and public policy begin to support those aims.

The 3rd AWEA Wind Power Finance & Investment Workshop was held in New York, NY, on October 25 - 26, 2005. Stated in their program agenda: Workshop participants will hear experts speak on topics including basic wind project economics, what makes a project financeable, new forms of development finance and how private equity funds and Wall Street may change wind power finance in the next phase of its growth.”

Is this the way America is supposed to operate? Property rights are pushed aside for the promise of quick profits and rapid tax deprecation. The argument that local municipalities and agribusiness will share in the income stream falls short when the onion is peeled and all the layers of this boondoggle are exposed to the light of day. Public scrutiny is urgently needed to reveal the true nature of a rip off dressed up in the charming platitudes.

Community outrage is building. The, 3/8/2006 reports:

Plans to build hundreds of electricity-generating wind turbines have stirred a storm of controversy across several Southern Tier counties. Clipper Windpower Inc. has proposed building about 30 turbines in the town of Hornby in Steuben County and about 10 turbines in the town of Orange in Schuyler County. Steuben Wind Power wants to build about 40 turbines in the Steuben County towns of Hartsville and Hornellsville. EverPower Renewables has proposed 25 to 30 turbines in the Steuben County town of Howard.

UPC Wind wants to build an as-yet-unspecified number of turbines in the Steuben County town of Cohocton. And a partnership between Global Winds Harvest Inc. and UPC Wind, plus another project proposed by Ecogen, could result in more than 100 turbines in the towns of Prattsburgh in Steuben County and Italy in Yates County.

"It's going to wreak some havoc on the town, and these things don't really belong there," said opponent Robert Kern, 62, of Hornby. His Chambers Road property would be within 1,200 feet of the proposed turbines, he said. The Hornby Town Board reviewed proposed zoning changes Monday that would regulate the wind turbines, said Donald Borden, town supervisor. Source:, 3/8/2006.

An alarm bell should sound for any landholder when the subject of eminent domain raises it ugly head. When farmland is rezoned industrial or special use permits are approved for industrial projects the very real risk of condemnation follows. Wind Developers can assign or sell leases and contracts that extend decades into the future like gaming chips in a Vegas casino. Not exactly a safe proposal. Waging the birthright of future generations is foolhardy.

The economics of wind farms are suspect when state subsidies are removed from the equation. How many times in the past has the public been told that a project is beneficial only to be burdened with the clean up cost of a Love Canal? Use your common sense. Public utilities may trade as stock equities, but there is little public protection from Public Service Commissions. Wind may sound like it is free for the taking, but when you put a pencil to the scurry that grabs all the government financing that can be passed on to the taxpayer, you uncover the real motivation of all the front companies for the utility conglomerates.

Robert L. Bradley Jr. in RENEWABLE ENERGY Not Cheap, Not "Green" provides the reference documentation to support the following: “ratepayers typically pay three times more for wind power than they would pay for electricity in today's spot market, and the premium could be higher. A conservative estimate of the total U.S. government (i.e., taxpayer) subsidy to wind power totals over $1,200 per installed kilowatt, even greater than the direct capital cost of wind under advanced technology of around $860 per kilowatt and certainly more than the installed capacity cost of gas-fired combined-cycle plants of approximately $580 per kilowatt. On a dependable capacity or capacity factor basis, the subsidy cost and capital cost premium to market is severalfold greater.” Bradley’s conclusion: “Only a sizable taxpayer or ratepayer bailout will prevent the large majority of the state's heavily indebted wind-power capacity from going the way of synthetic oil and gas production.”

Wall Street would not think of utilizing their own communities for such ventures. Their playgrounds are immune from the economic havoc that would destroy property values in their neighborhoods. Ponder this assessment: “Cooperstown, Cazenovia, and Skaneateles won't see wind prospectors wandering their ridge tops. Cherry Valley is typical of the demographics used by commercial wind for site guidelines. We have been told repeatedly by supporters of the wind plant that "Cherry Valley is a dying community and there is no other choice." With absolutely no evidence, they believe they can become a tourist destination in the midst of large-scale industrial development. They want us to believe that we can have our cake and eat it too.”

Here we go again! NYC and downstate interests ready to rape the countryside so they can pay for the fuel to jet away to their privileged enclaves. This is not a valid model for free enterprise, but it is a formula for unconscionable enrichment for a corrupt political/corporate partnership. This is not a sensible way to produce efficient energy. These wind projects are simply a way to appropriate rural land for exploration by plutocrat elites at the expense of ordinary citizens. Wake up and put a stop to this special interest government subsidy. Let the prospects of any project rise or fall on their own merits.

James Hall – April 30, 2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Wind Power In Upstate New York Creates a Storm

Plans to build hundreds of electricity-generating wind turbines have stirred a storm of controversy across several Southern Tier counties. Clipper Windpower Inc. has proposed building about 30 turbines in the town of Hornby in Steuben County and about 10 turbines in the town of Orange in Schuyler County. Steuben Wind Power wants to build about 40 turbines in the Steuben County towns of Hartsville and Hornellsville. EverPower Renewables has proposed 25 to 30 turbines in the Steuben County town of Howard.

UPC Wind wants to build an as-yet-unspecified number of turbines in the Steuben County town of Cohocton. And a partnership between Global Winds Harvest Inc. and UPC Wind, plus another project proposed by Ecogen, could result in more than 100 turbines in the towns of Prattsburgh in Steuben County and Italy in Yates County.

"There are wind resources here that are very positive toward wind development," said James Sherron, executive director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency in Bath. Wind farms can generate additional income for municipalities in the form of annual payments in lieu of taxes, as well as for farmers, who can lease portions of their land for the placement of turbines, Sherron said.

"It's going to wreak some havoc on the town, and these things don't really belong there," said opponent Robert Kern, 62, of Hornby. His Chambers Road property would be within 1,200 feet of the proposed turbines, he said. The Hornby Town Board reviewed proposed zoning changes Monday that would regulate the wind turbines, said Donald Borden, town supervisor.

The committee could make a presentation at the next regular meeting of the Town Board at 7 p.m. Monday at the Town Hall, Borden said. However, the committee may not have enough time to make the proposed changes by then, he said.

Hornby Town Supervisor Donald Borden sees a correlation between residents' support for a wind farm and how close it would be to their property. Support grows stronger the farther people are from it, he said. Source:, 3/8/2006.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dear Supervisor Duserick and Naples Town Board Members and All Interested Parties,

Please act now by contacting Cohocton Town Supervisor Jack Zigenfus and Cohocton Board and Steuben County and Steuben County IDA in regards to the cumulative impact their windfarm will have on Naples tourism and property values and fish and wildlife.

Windfarms proposed for Prattsburgh and Italy will also impact the Town of Naples & Village of Naples. Extensive construction and associated vehicles crossing streams, logging & clearing acres of forests required for the huge turbines and access through wetland areas will have gross impact on Finger Lakes ecosystem our roads enjoyment of our homes and properties. Too many questions remain unanswered in regards not only to the construction phase of these projects but the overall affect long term to the area.

The response to Ecogen's DGEIS by the Steuben County Chapter of the Sierra Club encourages caution (see statement below) and requires more answers before letting developers run with minimal restriction with the large scale windfarms being proposed throughout the area.

Green money should not replace green power and good sense. More time for study and guidance will only benefit.

The Steuben County IDA and developers give little or no response to potential negative affects on property values and tourism- citing studies having little relation to our unique area. Desert windfarms and plains are far from the Finger Lakes and our rich and diverse elements and recreational & residential concentration.

You only have days to respond before Cohocton approves their UPC Global Wind windfarm of 42 + 17- 2 megawatt turbines and a 50 db noise allowance. Setback from Naples and Ontario County and neighboring properties is only 100 feet over the tower height (400 to 500 feet tall depending on manufacture)

Background noise for rural areas recommended by the PSC is 40 db. The PSC does not currently have jurisdiction over wind energy. Let your county and state representatives know that you require more information before Steuben County and it's bordering towns force a potentially negative change on the character on Naples and it's property values. We are not against green energy or windfarms - we are FOR safe siting and sufficient set-backs, limited height and number of turbines from neighboring properties/towns and cautious consideration to people and wildlife.


Richard & Cynthia Cole
Riders' Rest - Guest Lodging
Naples - Prattsburgh Rd. 6154 Rte 53 N.
Prattsburgh, NY 14873
(607) 522-6100 home

Sierra Club Response to Proposed Steuben County Wind Farm by Bob Siegel, Energy Committee Chair

The Steuben County Sierra Club group recently filed comments for the controversial Wind Farm Proposal in Prattsburgh in response to the developer Ecogen’s draft scoping document. While acknowledging that Sierra Club supports wind power as a viable and important alternative to fossil fuels, important questions about this particular proposal need to be answered before the club can offer its support. Ecogen and its rival Global Winds, have leases on approximately fifty sites each that they hope to develop.

Steuben County co-chair, Rachel Treichler states that information about the actual turbine size and tower construction needs to be provided. It would be helpful to know why, for instance, a smaller number of larger turbines couldn’t be used. The developers are asking for a less rigorous Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) claiming that impact would be minor.

Opponents feel that given the magnitude of the project, a full scale EIS should be required, one that considers the cumulative impact of these sites on wildlife corridors, as well as quality of life for residents and for the tourists upon whom the area is dependent as a major source of revenue. In a separate statement, Audubon New York pointed out that some of the sites’ proximity to the Hi-Tor Wildlife Management Area is a concern since this site has been designated as an Important Bird Area and as a New York State Bird Conservation Area.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

UPC Letter to Cohocton Residents April 11, 2006

April 11, 2006

Dear Cohocton Resident:

I am writing to give you information about and update you on the wind farm project that UPC Wind is proposing in the Town. Although I have been at several town and public meetings explaining the project, and UPC has taken residents to Fenner Wind Farm, I understand it is not possible for everyone to attend these events, and so I wanted to communicate in a way that would reach everyone in the Town.

UPC has been in the Town of Cohocton for approximately 3 years. We started in late 2002 by contacting landowners and Town officials to determine whether there was interest in a wind farm project. When we established that there was interest, we worked with landowners and Town officials to permit and erect meteorological towers in order to determine whether there was a sufficient wind resource to support an economically viable project. To tell you the truth, I felt kind of silly telling the landowners on the top of the hills in Cohocton that we had to take this step. They are used to measuring the wind by the number of shingles they lose every winter, and were not surprised to find out that it is windy enough for a project in Cohocton.

Once we concluded there was a viable wind resource, we started environmental studies in anticipation of the State Environmental Quality Review, or SEQR Process. This is a process in which the potential effects that a project may have on the residents and environment of an area are scrutinized. Earlier this month, the Town's Planning Board declared itself the lead agency for review of the project under SEQR, and determined that UPC should prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to evaluate the project. UPC is in the process of preparing the DEIS, and will soon be submitting it to the Town and state agencies for review. The DEIS will include the results of the studies that UPC has conducted and other project information. As a part of the SEQR process, the DEIS will be available for public review and comment. The town will publicize the public comment period.

At about the same time that we initiated environmental studies, we started speaking further with the Town concerning the Town's process for review of a wind farm project proposal, and the standards which the Town would apply to such a proposal. As a result of these discussions, the Town decided that it would enact a local law to regulate the development and construction of the wind farm. That law was adopted by the Town in January, 2006. The Planning Board and the Town Board should be commended for their diligence in drafting this local law. The Planning Board thoroughly examined both existing wind farm laws/regulations in the state, and the unique character of Cohocton. This kind of proactive leadership is a model for the rest of the towns in the state which are contemplating wind farms. I should also mention that, as compared to other laws and regulations throughout the state, Cohocton's law strongly protects residents of the Town. For example, other municipalities in New York require wind turbine setbacks from residences to be between 600 and 1500 feet. The Town chose a setback requirement of 1500 feet.

In the past year, UPC has also explored the feasibility of developing a second wind farm project in the Dutch Hill area. We have found that a project in this area is feasible, so we will begin environmental studies soon, and plan to seek approvals for a wind farm in that area. To clarify, we call the project on Pine, Lent and Brown Hills the Cohocton Wind Farm Project. We call the project on Dutch Hill the Dutch Hill Wind Farm Project.

Another development is that we will be opening a local UPC office in Cohocton within the next month. The office will be located at 29 Maple Avenue, next door to the Post Office. The telephone number will be 585-384-9550. The office will be managed by Cohocton resident Mr. Rick Towner. The office will be a place where Cohocton residents can come to discuss and ask questions about the project and wind farming in general.

Finally, one issue that has come up recently is the concern among Cohocton residents that the Town may not receive enough of the Payment In Lieu of Tax (PILOT) revenues from this project, and that too much of these benefits will go to the school district and the County. On this issue, UPC must remain a neutral party, encouraging the Town, the school district and the County to agree on a division of the revenues that all can live with. That being said, UPC recognizes that the Town is impacted by the project more than the school district and the County (for example, the wind farm will create neither extra school children nor Medicaid recipients), and so it is only fair that the Town should receive a portion of the revenues that is commensurate with this impact. It is certainly in your interest as Cohocton residents to ensure that Cohocton receives a fair share of the revenues from this project.

To give you a rough sense of what kind of total revenues can be expected from UPC's Cohocton and Dutch Hill Wind Farm Projects, I will refer to a recent Steuben County Industrial Development Agency (SCIDA) decision. The SCIDA set the PILOT Agreement for the Ecogen Prattsburgh Windfarm project at $5300/MW/year. Using this figure, and assuming that UPC is able to permit both the Cohocton and Dutch Hill projects for a total of 124MW, revenues would be in the range of $660,000/year. It is also important to note that it is UPC's policy to source locally as much as possible construction jobs and materials, and operations and maintenance jobs. The Cohocton and Dutch Hill wind farms would create a demand for roughly $6-7 Million in local construction jobs and materials, and 4-6 full-time operations and maintenance jobs with annual salaries in the range of $40-60,000.

UPC is excited about the prospect of moving forward with these wind farm projects in Cohocton. Our intent is to be a good neighbor in the Town and to answer questions and address concerns. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us or stop by our office.

Best regards,
Chris Swartley
Development Manager, Northeast
UPC Wind

Letter to NYS Senator George H. Winner, Jr.

April 24, 2006

Hon. Senator - George H. Winner, Jr.
53rd Senate District
Room 814
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247

Senator Winner,

As a resident, voter and constituent in your 53rd District in New York State, the negative impact from the devastating Cohocton Wind Power Project needs to be brought to your attention. The developer UPC in conjunction with the Town of Cohocton Board and the Cohocton Planning Board (lead agency) has connived an ill-conceived plan that effectively has ignored the legitimate concerns from the local community and surrendering townships in your district.

Governor George Pataki has betrayed Western New York and especially the Finger Lakes Region for downstate interests. It is imperative that Pataki’s budget veto be overridden as it applies to the removal of public money from NYSERDA and putting it into the state budget. Effectively the serious adverse economic impact, public health and safety aspects, civic liability consequences and destruction of an overall quality of life issues are being sacrificed to benefit out of state corporate interests and a small group of short sighted landowners. (who do not live on or adjacent to the proposed lease sites locations)

Cronyism never makes good public policy. When zoning regulations are passed after the fact, arguably illegal in their methods, the only recourse is to appeal to our State Senate and Assembly to intervene. The permitting process is being pushed at lightening speed. The public was never ably notified and the scale and scope of the Cohocton Wind Power Project has been successfully and intentionally concealed from residents. Cohocton has no comprehensive planning enactment in place, much less regional impact protection regulations that consider neighboring townships.

IMMEDIATE action is imperative to slow down the fast track and involve meaningful community input and legitimate concerns. Since the pending article 78 legal actions by Advocates for Prattsburgh has been filed a local ground swell of outrage has grown in the surrounding region. Now is the time for rethinking and conducting an honest, independent and all-inclusive scientific and economic impact review. The current plan written by UPC and their paid consultants has no demonstrable consideration of real public input.

Communities that rely upon tourism like Naples, NY will be devastated. The proposed site locations for eleven of the 400 feet wind towers will be in direct view of the village of Naples. Add to that number the section slated to be erected in the Town of Prattsburgh, most of Canandaigua Lake will have an environmental impact that will diminish destination tourism, including the winery attractions in the entire region.

Property values will dramatically drop and marketability will become non-existent. There is a better way to balance and even tolerate the construction of a wind turbine farm. The UPC proposal is a scheme to rape and pillage our area with no real benefit to local residents, who will be taxed in the future to pay for the flood of litigation, road maintenance and eventual de-commissioning.

Based on the economic model and the verifiable inefficiency of wind turbines (often only 10% with no storage ability) the electric grid may not gain significant capacity from such a design to justify the projects. Add to that the subsidy nature of the underlying financial incentives and the burden of funding is once again placed on the backs of NYS taxpayers.

The Town of Cohocton does not even know what their revenue sharing split with UPC will be at this time, but are hell bent on final approval. Conducting a full State of New York investigation into the entire project is well within your responsibilities as our State Senator. Enclosed is a letter to the editor published in several local newspapers.

At a minimum consider supporting the approach that the Town of Perry has taken for a community-based corporation or authority – with a board of directors elected by residents. Mr. Tom Golisano offers this as a rational alternative to the disaster we all face from firms like UPC and Ecogen and Global Winds.

Please reply with your assessment and commitment to intercede on our behalf, our neighbors and the public at large.


James Hall, Judith Hall and Blair Hall
5029 Moore Road
Cohocton, NY 14826
(585) 534-5581
(585) 534-5489 FAX

Mailing address:
PO Box 657
Naples, NY 14512

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rational Public Policy - Gone with the Wind by James Hall

“Let them eat cake” is the attitude of the Town of Cohocton, New York. Causing a farming township in a rural county to exhibit the rancor of a peoples’ rebellion. What is all the fuss about, you ask? Growing corn, milking cows and digging potatoes may not seem too exciting, but when the manure of absentee corporate carpetbaggers meets the cronyism of agribusiness avarice, the general public suffers the costs of a disastrous financial and environmental impact.

This is no Hatfields and McCoys feud. The arrogance and capricious disregard for community opposition to an ill-conceived wind turbine project on a scale that would rival the intensive concentration of a worm farm, is down right criminal. Seemingly ignoring New York State law, making up after the fact excuses for not submitting a comprehension planning and impact policy and writing zoning regulations after the fact, is the way business is being conducted in this pervasive conflict of interest jurisdiction. Board members eager to reap lease payments from the UPC Wind Management have already made their decision. Property owners and local residents can be economically and ecologically destroyed as long as the NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) can cut their deals to rape and pillage Western New York for the sake of downstate interests.

If you think wind turbines are benign free energy producers, do your homework. Look to the leadership of the adjacent township of Prattsburgh that has been waging a successful opposition effort to bring sanity and a reasonable scientific approach to the construction of wind farms. Their site Advocates for Prattsburgh is a treasure chest for sound and rational data, arguments and alternatives for establishing judicious standards where by all interests can achieve a peaceful coexistence.

Opposition to heavy handed political muscle does not mean all wind farms need to be prohibited. Public safety risks, setback buffers, noise and ground water perils, true costs verse promised benefits, corporate and municipal liability indemnity all need to be resolved before a sensible compromise can be constructed. These crucial issues have not been addressed, factually considered or attend to by the Cohocton Planning Board. Their meeting minutes reflect that most members have not even read their own plan, which was commissioned with funds from the UPC developer. Not exactly a model of independent scrutiny or fiduciary responsibility, is it?

The entire region is heavily reliant upon tourism. The Finger Lake’s wineries attraction is a major source of revenue for the local economy. A most egregious omission from the UPC project is the impact their towers will have on destination travelers. Having been a former restaurateur in Naples, NY the life blood of commerce depends not on government subsidies, but upon the transaction of business activity. The record is very clear what happens when a wind farm is located in the mist of a residential community. When it is slated to be in full view of a pristine historic village the reason for a visit vanishes.

Property values are in serious jeopardy and will sink like a rock. What exactly is the benefit to individual households when they will be saddled with the burden of the adverse fall out from an economic albatross? Corporations that base their economic business plan on government subsidies are an affront to every hard working taxpayer. Why should your future be sold out for the gain of a few short sighted landholders who live in protected zones of self-seeking denial?

Agriculture land, illegally zoned industrial, means higher assessments for everyone, especially when the actual share paid to local government is an unknown at this time. Why allow a flawed plan to go forward without serious inspection and public scrutiny? Is the tribute so great and transparency so clouded that area inhabitants would rise up in a mass protest if the full facts of this sordid abuse of civic administration became public knowledge?

Common sense dictates that a clear and measured approach is a primary necessity before any legitimate approval to permit wind farms should be enacted. What is the rush to bury the details as the fine points are being withheld from the public? Worse yet, if the financial considerations are yet unknown, how could any elected or appointed official pass resolutions that place such a heavy burden on the entire region?

One need not oppose wind generation in all forms to adopt the prudent course of demanding a moratorium in order to ensure that the public is duly protected from the very real and profound risk of the current UPC wind proposals.

Reported by Mary Perham in the Corning Leader, Tom Golisano offers up a rational alternative in the event that broad community interests desire wind farms. Golisano's model calls for a community-based corporation - or authority - with a board of directors elected by residents. The authority would be independent of any town government and would qualify for existing federal and state incentives.

Revenues from the project would be distributed to residents at the end of the year and not affect municipal taxes, according to a plan being developed by the town of Perry, near Rochester.

Let’s all step back and take a deep breath! Slow down this fast track process and conduct some real, serious and independent science and economic impact studies that go to the heart of the issue. Will wind farms truly benefit the ordinary taxpayer and protect the regional community in which we all live?

The Cohocton Wind Watch was established to safeguard the interests of the entire town as well as neighboring townships. Look closely at the future of the Finger Lakes Region and think hard about the legacy you see for the next generations. Inquiries should be made to: P.O. Box 52, Cohocton, New York 14826. (585) 534-5581 Emails can be sent to:

When local government jurisdictions ignore or refuse to base public policy upon rightful concerns, litigation usually follows. Public officials swear an oath to protect the public, not private corporations. Not only has this standard been abdicated, but it has been intentionally circumvented. Is it worth this kind of risk in the era of Enron and Global Crossings? The wind will still blow but our quality of life will be gone. Surely we can all do better. Demand an equable plan. Stop the rush to destroy what cannot be replaced.

James Hall - April 23, 2006

Town of Cohocton Wind Power Project

Saturday, April 22, 2006

wind power project generates resistance ~by staff Columnist Guild News Bureau

Electricity generating wind turbine "farms" proposed in rural upstate New York are moving forward despite heavy public opposition. Residents of Prattsburg, New York and surrounding communities assert the projects were initiated and have proceeded in relative secrecy, and question environmental and economic impact statements made by developers of the projects.

Two separate but similar "wind farms" are being developed in the area by EcoGen and Global Winds Harvest, Inc. The lead agency promoting the turbines is the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, with the help of a state chartered corporation, NYSERDA, created in 1975 to facilitate energy development in the state.

EcoGen has won approval for it's project in Prattsburg. Global Wind Harvest is filing a final environmental impact study soon for it's Prattsburg project, and is involved in a broader array of similar projects across in the region. Some of these others are more ambitious in overall scope than the company's plans in Prattsburg.

Opponents show NYSERDA, SCIDA and others promoting wind power are not bound by state environmental and other regulations pertaining to energy production. Wind power generation was nonexistent when such regulations were drawn, therefore wind farms are not required to be located in industrial zones as are all other means of energy production such as by coal or oil.

Opponents also assert environmental impact studies are flawed at best, but given the lack of regulation this fact may be legally moot.

Nonetheless, many negative environmental impacts have been glossed over by developers of wind farms wherever they are proposed.

EcoGen's approved turbines are approximately 370 feet tall in total, combining the 235 foot tower height and 135 foot blade length. Between EcoGen and Global Wind Harvest, over 100 such turbines are slated for Prattsburg and the surrounding area. Such densities of wind turbines have been shown to kill substantial numbers of migratory birds.

Global Wind Harvest plans to use taller units in it's plans elsewhere in the region.

The turbine blades also throw ice which builds up in winter, demonstrably as far as 1600 feet from the structure. Opponents say the property rights issue is "tricky," especially as there is no zoning in the project area. But they assert some property owners have been somehow convinced to sign waivers allowing the placement of turbines in close enough proximity to homes and roads that an ice related incident will be simply a matter of time.

The turbines are also noisier than developers claim, are subject to lightning strikes and fires, and beside being an eyesore cause a disconcerting "flicker effect" for those living in their shadows. Other concerns are that blades themselves are sometimes thrown off, and impacts to water tables from construction of the massive bases required to hold the turbines.

Details of finances surrounding the project have also not been forthcoming from local officials, when questioned on who the project's ultimate beneficiaries will be.

Opponents quickly found approaching local elected officials with their concerns to be fruitless. They have since organized the Advocates For Prattsburg (AFP) to focus their efforts.

The first order of business for AFP was to insure all property owners in the effected area were even aware of the project. AFP notes some 35% of landholders are "absentee;" not residing permanently within the area. It is unknown what percentage of absentees had been aware of the project before AFP contacted them.

Last year AFP petitioned for a moratorium on the project until legitimate studies of economic and environmental impacts could address their concerns. The petition was summarily ignored by local officials.

In March of this year, a broad coalition of opponents to wind power provided comment to the New York Assembly Committee on Energy. Mentioning the lack of regulation and questionable practices of NYSERDA, they added "Due to federal and state tax credits... accelerated depreciation and relief from property taxes through PILOTs, (payment in lieu of taxes) an irresistible enticement has been created, attracting wind developers to New York State."

SCIDA stands to gain over $300,000 from PILOTS related to the Prattsburg project.

The commentary continued "In their pitch to potential investors, developers routinely suggest that double-digit returns can be predicted over the 15-year period from a project's inception through the final expiration of its tax exemption. Wind farms are considered nothing but short-term investments by firms like Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan Chase," suggesting finance and construction are the prime motive behind such projects.

AFP says it can't be about power, citing existing, landlocked wind farms are typically "out of phase" with peak power demands, meaning they typically do not add power to the grid at times when it is especially needed. Promoters also use maximum potential power output in their calculations of bottom lines, but AFP has shown existing wind farms in similar locations operate only at 10% efficiency on average.

AFP has recently initiated a so called "article 78" action in the attempt to stop the approved EcoGen project. This law allows people to challenge their government when a final decision does not appear to be supported by available data.

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Original Investigative Journalism from the
Columnist Guild News Bureau

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cohocton Wind Watch formed 4/17/06

The Citizens, Residents and Neighbors group formed in response to the UPC wind turbine project in the Town of Cohocton, New York.