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Rational Public Policy - Gone with the Wind

View from the Mount

Sober Thought Provoking Essays

The production of electricity from our wind turbines “can be akin to maneuvering a rapidly moving articulated lorry train without a steering wheel, accelerator, clutch, or brakes.”
 Western Denmark’s principal Transmission System Operator

Rational Public Policy - Gone with the Wind

The Future Look of the Finger Lakes Region

“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      

“There appears to be no recourse or plan to compensate us for property value losses, erosion of our quality of life, or mental anguish. Besides these 44 wind turbines, thousands more are in the pipeline! God help us!”
Resident near the Mountaineer wind plant in West Virginia

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