In an ad in last week's Valley News, Town Board member Wayne Hunt, an ardent supporter of UPC Wind's local projects, proclaims that the proposed wind farms will be “the most significant economic engine that we have ever had.” We know these are difficult times for a number of citizens but wonder if turning the Town of Cohocton into a giant power plant is really the solution. We have a good base in our local economy already, some new but much of which has been carried by faithful families for generations. Are we in a crisis? Isn't there a better way to move forward together as a community? Our article in this week's Valley News opens up the subject and responds to some of Wayne's other points along the way. Your comments are welcome.
We've all received an 8-page packet of information from Superintendent Michael Wetherbee at the school district asking for public input about Propositions 1 & 2 for renovations and pool expansion at the school. A public hearing will be held on January 30th, followed by voting on the Propositions on February 13th. What do we like about this whole enterprise? In several words, our school administration has done it right:
1) They've laid the whole thing out to the public - project details, financials, and public process - in a well-done publication.
2) They've done their homework, found the resources, and have cogent answers.
3) All totaled, it's an $11 million project with no downside that will enhance our community measurably.
4) Taxpayers know almost exactly how much it will cost and what they will get for their money.
5) And still, with all the "no-brainer" aspects of this, the whole matter is being put to a vote. The citizens will decide.
Read through the Special Edition of the Eye of the Eagle we've posted online, ask our school district any questions you want, and then come out and vote on February 13.
It would have been very nice if our Town Fathers had entrusted the citizens of this community with as much respect when they took on UPC Wind's ever-changing $125+ million project.
No reduction in emissions
"We agree that there are serious consequences associated with burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, and we support energy policies which promote renewable sources, such as wind and solar, to provide alternate forms of electricity. However, construction of wind energy facilities will not reduce air pollution emissions at existing power generation facilities. Coal, oil, and nuclear generating facilities must be kept in operation and online to provide the main source of electricity, especially when the wind resources are not turning the turbine blades. The intermittency of wind, coupled with the fact that the times of peak availability of wind resources in a given location may not coincide with the times of peak demand for electricity, makes wind energy less suitable from an energy standpoint."
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
New York Field Office
Click here for the context of this quote. We've also posted (as very large files) the full article by the FWS and a similar companion report by the DEC, both of which primarily addressed the Avian and Bat studies submitted by the developer on behalf of the unsuccessful Chautauqua Wind Project.
Noise generated by wind turbines and its propagation to nearby dwellings is a serious problem in turbine siting that I discussed in my comments to the Planning Board last week. I've been studying the problem for a while and just received the following email:
Yes! windpower: you should be calling the "Doc" on this 50 decibel thing, here's FOUR charts I easily found on the internets, with web addresses. Don't allow him continue the misdirection, you should make this part of his rhetoric more well known.
'Doc:' 'Yer STILL cheatin.'
Click here to read my response to JT, which includes the 4 charts he mentioned. Further documentation related to the problem of noise is available in two evaluations, just completed by Richard Bolton this week, addressing Hessler's noise reports in the Lent/Pine Hill SDEIS and Dutch Hill Wind DEIS, respectively.
An article in yesterday's Bangor Daily News about UPC's Mars Hill Project reports the reaction of neighbors when the turbines were started up:
"They turned on tower Number 9, and almost immediately it made enough noise that it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that can’t be right,’" Wendy Todd said.
"It all depends on the wind speed and direction, but the best way to describe it is you step outside and look up thinking there’s an airplane. It’s like a high-range jet, high-low roar, but with the windmills, there’s a sort of on and off ‘phfoop ... phfoop ... phfoop’ noise."
That’s one "phfoop" or more every two seconds as the turbine’s three blades rotate from 10 to 22 revolutions per minute. It’s loud enough, Todd said, that she can hold her cell phone outside her home and the person on the other end of the call can clearly hear the sound.
Read the whole article, then the comments that follow. Is this really what we want in Cohocton?
Public Hearing Brings Good Turnout
Last Friday's public hearing, sponsored by the Cohocton Planning Board to address the Lent/Pine Hill SDEIS and new Dutch Hill DEIS brought a good turnout of concerned citizens, both pro and con, to the Elementary School auditorium. Supporters, many in green sweatshirts or jackets and wearing YES hats, mostly sat in one section, while critics gathered on the other side of the aisle and in the back bleachers. Time was limited due to a deadline at the school and the number of attendees who had signed in to speak. Overall, the crowd was respectful although chuckles and expressions of disagreement were scattered here and there throughout several presentations. Speakers with critical commentary probably outnumbered those with supportive comments by about 2 to 1, but all were passionate in their appeals to the Planning Board and assembled audience.
We've gathered several of Friday night's submissions here for your review, including analyses by Don Sandford, James and Judi Hall, Bonnie and Karl Palmiter, and Robert Strasburg. Richard Bolton submitted an excellent scientific critique of the SDEIS/DEIS Noise and Shadow Flicker reports that we will try to post as soon as it is available. If you have commentary that you're submitting to the Planning Board (deadline February 15) and would like it posted on our site, just send it along as an attachment to the email address provided in our Blogger profile.
Unbeknown to many people the UPC wind power proposal in Cohocton has undergone a number of changes since it was first presented publicly 9 months ago. These revisions have been so extensive that they’ve triggered another public review under the provisions of New York’s SEQR Act. The first Public Meeting is scheduled for this coming Friday evening, January 19th at 7 pm in the auditorium at the Wayland-Cohocton Elementary School on Park Avenue in Cohocton.
Read our full article in this week's Valley News, visit our main website for a graphic presentation of UPC’s latest pictures, and then follow the following links to the material being discussed: Lent/Pine Hill SDEIS and Dutch Hill DEIS. Please prepare yourself as a citizen by reviewing as much of this material as you can before coming to the Public Meeting on the 19th to express your opinion. Thanks!
Less for More
The primary reason industial wind power is being promoted so extensively is its inherent promise to reduce CO2 emissions by replacing conventional power production. In a well-researched and scholarly article published in December, Jon Boone reveals the fallacy of this premise. According to his research, "Wind plants are unable either to mitigate the need for additional conventional power generation in the face of increased demand or to reliably augment power during times of peak demand. Ironically, as more wind installations are added, almost equal conventional power generation must also be brought on line. Crucially important, wind technology, because of the inherently random variations of the wind, will not reduce meaningful levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide produced from fossil-fueled generation." For the complete story, read the full article and then follow up with a recent companion article by Wolverton and Bliven that carries the argument even further.
Some people thought it was cute, but others recognized it for what it really was, crass exploitation. For the holidays, UPC Wind sponsored a“coloring contest” in Cohocton’s elementary school and published pictures of the winners in The Valley News. The object? To use our children to make their controversial wind project look kid-friendly. Read our response in this week's Valley News and let us know what you think.
Welcome to 2007! For those of you who thought that 2006 was quite a year in the wind turbine debate, it looks like we’re in for more of the same in 2007. UPC Wind has just posted a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the latest revision of their proposed windpower project, and it’s the same old shell game of trying to sell their project by exaggerating claims and minimizing impact. What does the new SEIS exaggerate and minimize? Read our article in this weeks Valley News, then pore over the new UPC SEIS and see what you think.
On December 20, 2006, Cohocton Wind Watch and a number of Cohocton residents filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Town to annul the passage of Local Law #2 of 2006, which purports to regulate the siting, construction and operation of windmills within the Town. The petitioners claim that the law was passed without required environmental review, and violated various other zoning procedures.
James Hall, a member of Cohocton Wind Watch and a petitioner in the lawsuit stated that "we all live in Cohocton because we love and appreciate the beautiful rural and agricultural nature of our Town. These huge industrial windmills will destroy this quality of life."
The case has been assigned to Judge Mary Anne Furfure, and will be heard at the Steuben County Courthouse in Bath on January 16, 2007 at 10:00 AM. Richard Lippes of Buffalo, NY and David Miller of Naples, NY are the attorneys for the petitioners.