Saturday, November 28, 2009

Committee moves joint wind power resolution to floor

Members of the Oswego County Legislature’s Economic Development and Planning Committee unanimously approved a joint resolution in opposition of the proposed route for high-powered transmission lines through Oswego County from a wind farm on Galloo Island in the Jefferson County Town of Hounsfield.

The legislature is joining with Jefferson County officials to oppose the 230-kilovolt line that has been proposed to run from Galloo Island through the towns of Henderson, Ellisburg, Sandy Creek, and Richland, as well as the Village of Pulaski to a proposed substation and interconnection with existing transmission lines in Mexico.

Both counties would like the lines to run underground in Lake Ontario.

Upstate Power has proposed to construct a wind farm on Galloo Island, off the shore in Hounsfield, along with a new power line with the capability of transporting 1,000 megawatts south to assist in meeting needs of downstate consumers.

Paul Forestiere, of Cornell Cooperative Extension, explained to the committee the scope of the project at the Nov. 24 meeting. “The public has not really been informed,” Forestiere said. “The way it is proposed right now it’s going to be an absolute disaster to the farmers.”

Majority Leader Shawn Doyle, who has been working with Jefferson County officials to draft the joint resolution, said Barry Ormsby of the Jefferson County Legislature has been keeping him apprised of what is occurring with the project in that county.

Doyle said there is reference in Upstate’s application to the Public Service Commission that the lines could eventually carry more than 230-kilovolt of power.

He said that the aesthetics of the lines will conflict with the downtown renovation project that the village of Pulaski recently received grant funding to complete.

“This company is power companies with a series of shell corporations,” he said. Doyle told the committee that he would be attending a public hearing that evening in Jefferson County for the purpose of discussing the PILOT agreement that Upstate has requested.

Unlike Oswego County’s 10 -year PILOT agreements, Jefferson County is considering a 20-year agreement.

That board has decided to move slowly, according to news reports from that area, while Upstate would like to have a PILOT agreement in place by the end of the year in order to qualify for 30-percent in stimulus funding.

Legislator Doug Malone asked if the resolution could incorporate a clause that provides for free power to Oswego County residents. Doyle said that he did not believe hosting the power lines would qualify for negotiations for free power.

Legislator Morris Sorbello said that when he attended a meeting in the City of Oswego in regard to a proposed project to place wind towers along Lake Ontario, he watched a video on how the lines are buried under water.

Legislator Jack Proud said in regard to the Lake Ontario project that Mexico Bay is the prime target for all of the wind towers and that the legislators had better be prepared to do it in a manner that is beneficial for the residents of Oswego County.

He noted that the first site under consideration downstate was rejected because of the lack of underground power lines.

“We were told if we don’t want this project, then we won’t have it,” he said.

The question was raised as to whether there would be property-tax benefits. Doyle said the taxes are paid by the property owner because the land owners are only selling a right-of-way to the company.

Legislator Jack Beckwith asked if there would be any benefit to bringing the power through the county.

Sorbello said there are many unanswered questions and at this time he would like to move the resolution forward.

Both legislatures are expected to consider the resolution in December. The Oswego County Legislature will take a vote at the Dec. 10 meeting.

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