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Updates

 

VN 10/30 - Bought, Paid For

It’s amazing how money talks. Last week’s Valley News contained nearly 2 full pages of slick ads promoting the Cohocton wind projects, almost all of it in full color. There were 3 half-page color ads, one with a picture of “Gramps” Drum on his tractor, another with the Larrowe House, and a third flag-draped political ad for the incumbent slate. In addition, UPC had its usual office notice, and Wayne Hunt sounded forth again. Who do you think paid the $500+ that these ads cost? “Gramps”? Wayne? Jack? Cohocton citizens?

Has UPC bought the entire Town with its cash and promises?
- Only a court case and one small election stand between UPC’s supporters and the unobstructed fulfillment of their plans.
- Fortunately for all of us there is still a glimmer of hope that sound reason and prudence will win out in the end.
- Pray for wisdom for Judge Marianne Furfure and come out on November 6 to vote Row E for the Reform Cohocton Slate:

Judith Hall, Town Supervisor
Stephen H. Trude, Town Councilman
Cesare Taccone, Town Councilman
Dr. Frank "Stoner" Clark, Town Justice
Bonnie Palmiter, Town Assessor
Rebecca Conard, Town Assessor
Blair Hall, Town Clerk


Next Tuesday Cohocton voters will have the opportunity to elect a team of leaders who haven't been dazzled by UPC Wind's sales pitch, a group of men and women who are prepared to ask UPC the tough questions and negotiate a deal that makes better sense for all of us. Browse our "Updates," review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and help us get out the vote for leaders that UPC’s money hasn’t swayed.

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Polly Lowry 1930-2007

In Memorium
Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Lowry

October 18, 2007 at the age of 77. Predeceased by her sister, Sarah Zimmermann and brother, Will Robison. Mrs. Lowry is survived by her loving husband of 57 years, Harold; children, Hal Jr. (Carol), Susan (Bill) Morehouse, Tom (JoAnn); grandchildren, Malcolm, Melissa, Dillon, Delaney, Sarah, Nathan (Kari), Johanna, Joel, Meghan and Julia; great-granddaughter, Zoya; brother, Charles D. (Betty) Robison; many nieces, nephews and friends.

Polly was an excellent tennis player and at the age of 17 she won the Nebraska State Title for Womens Tennis. She loved to swim and more importantly teach children to swim. Polly taught at the YMCA Backyard program for over 16 years. Polly had a love of gardening and was a strong supporter of the RPO. She was a member of the Rochester Yacht Club for 27 years, where she ran the duplicate bridge game. She enthusiastically shared her interests with family and friends.

Family received friends on October 26 from 7-9 pm at the Paul W. Harris Funeral Home in Irondequoit, where her memorial service was held on October 27 at 1:00 pm. In accordance to Polly's wishes her body will be donated to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Memorials may be directed to Lipson Cancer Center, 1425 Portland Ave., Rochester, NY 14621.

 
 

Prattsburgh Update

We know for fact that UPC absolutely does not have a contiguous line from the windmills to the proposed substation in the Prattsburgh project. In addition, Ecogen, which has bought up lots of land, still can't get to its substation because (among other reasons) the County of Yates is not allowed by law to sell them 10 acres of land on Emerson (it has something to do with green acres). People upon whom pressure has been put have been standing firm and refusing to sign easements.

And while we know that members of Advocates for Italy who live on Emerson Road have made agreements with Ecogen, those people are still living in their houses. They may have signed some kind of agreements to keep quiet and to sell in the future, but clearly Ecogen is not spending the money at this time to buy them out. We can only speculate as to how much money Ecogen actually has.

In talking to your neighbors and acquaintances please tell them:

  • Ecogen and UPC do not have a contiguous transmission route from the wind turbines to their substations
  • If UPC and Ecogen can't get to their substation then they can't make their projects work.
  • The town of Prattsburgh has said that UPC has permission to use Town right of ways, saying that this is all that is required for UPC to bury its cable, but this is not true.
  • Landowners own land up to the middle of the road. The Town has 25 foot easements from the middle of the road in order to maintain the roads. The town does not own this land and cannot sublease this land. So while town permission is necessary to use this land to bury cable, landowners' permission is absolutely required. The town has intentionally misled the citizens.
  • In addition, UPC is misleading people by hiring an outside firm (Prospect Land services, I believe) to contact people and act like they are representing the Town. They are pressuring people to sign right of ways and easements for UPC to bury the cable.
  • No one is required to sign an easement. UPC is not an electric utility and does not have power of eminent domain.
  • And once a landowner signs an easement it is forever. Perhaps for this project they will bury the cable, but if the companies have easements and in the future want to put up huge power lines, there will be nothing a resident can do if those easements are signed. And remember it is not just the poles and wires - there is also the 100 foot "tree clearing rights" that will be invoked.

Please make sure to share this information with everyone you know.

Ruthe Matilsky

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VN 10/23 - Money Matters

A major factor that members of the Cohocton YES Wind Power group point to when they proclaim that supporting UPC's project is a "no-brainer" is how much money they and the Town have been promised by the developer. Two kinds of money are promised: leasehold payments (private) and PILOT or Payments In Lieu Of Taxes to the Town (public). The project proposed 1.5 MW turbines when leases were first signed, then 2.0 MW turbines last year, and now 2.5 MW turbines. UPC Wind stands to make 67% more money from each of the larger turbines. Is this increase being shared with leaseholders? Each leaseholder knows the deal they got, leaving the rest of us in the dark.

But what about the proposed public PILOT money?
- First, even though we have a preliminary "Host Agreement" in place, the PILOT agreement apparently remains unfinished, so we really don't have anything but words in the air.
- Has anyone in our current Town administration even thought about computing how much UPC Wind would pay if they were taxed straight out as an electric utility? How can we judge any proposed PILOT without knowing what to compare it with?
- The school tax problem: we've just gotten a report from UPC's project in Mars Hill, Maine, indicating that half of their PILOT money has been lost through reductions in school tax subsidy. Have we computed this loss locally?
- The City Council in Lackawanna (Buffalo) has just discovered that it can tax future “phases” of UPC Wind's "Steel Winds" turbine project at the full rate, and last week they unanimously passed a law that would authorize them to do so.

In two weeks Cohocton voters will have the opportunity to elect a team of leaders who haven't been dazzled by UPC Wind's sales pitch, a group of men and women who are prepared to ask UPC the tough questions and negotiate a deal that makes better sense for all of us. Browse our Updates, visit our main site, review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and come out on November 6 to vote for leaders that count.

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Buffalo to Tax UPC


According to an article in The Buffalo News this week:

The Lackawanna City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a law that would allow the city to collect property taxes on a portion of the Steel Winds turbine project.

By state law, renewable energy projects, like the partially completed Steel Winds farm along Lake Erie on the old Bethlehem Steel site, are tax-exempt. However, municipalities that host such projects are allowed to opt out if they adopt a local law rescinding that tax exemption, which the Lackawanna Council did Monday at its regular meeting.

Why can't Cohocton make similar arrangements? It undoubtedly would take a new leadership team in Town to conduct the negotiations. Click here to read the entire article.

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Report from Maine - 9/26

Excerpts from testimony given by Wendy Todd about local effects of UPC Wind's project in Mars Hill, Maine. Note that this is a small project by Cohocton standards: only 28 towers, each fitted with a 1.5 MW turbine. Click here to read her entire testimony.

A Serious Payment Problem

What about the tax benefit to the town of Mars Hill? The town signed a TIF agreement with the wind company for $500,000 a year for the life of the project (20 years). Because of that $500,000 a year, the town of Mars Hill will be losing $249,000 in school funding. That brings the total benefit to the town down to $251,000.

The Noise Problem

People think that we are crazy. They drive out around the mountain, stop and listen, and wonder why anyone would complain about noise emissions. But believe me when we are having noise problems you can most assuredly hear the justification of our complaint. We have had people come into our yard, get out of their vehicles, and have watched their mouth drop. We have had company stop in mid conversation inside our home to ask, "What is that noise?" or say "I can't believe you can hear those like that inside your house."

Visiting a wind facility or sitting at the end of someone's driveway once or twice for 2, 3, or even 10 minutes to listen does not make that person an expert on turbine noise. To be an informed witness could take days or weeks for one to know and experience what we are living. Not until an individual has been in a home and has heard turbine noise emissions of 45 decibels or higher does that individual have any right to judge how turbine noise truly affects the lives of people. Even noise experts should be talking to residents who are living next to turbines to ensure they are collecting data that is relevant to the burdensome noise emissions heard by those who live closest to them. Let us tell the sound experts when we are having a noise issue.

Nick Archer, our Regional Director with the DEP thought we were all crazy, too. But he finally made it to our homes and heard what we were talking about. I don't believe he has ever heard a 50+ decibel day but he has heard close to that on more than one occasion and has made statements like these. "This is a problem." "We need to figure out what is going on with these things before we go putting anymore of them up." "I thought you were crazy at first but you are not crazy." "The quality of life behind the mountain is changed." Did he say these things just to appease us? I don't believe so.

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VN 10/16 - Hand in the Glove

Week by week, UPC Wind’s involvement in Cohocton becomes more blatantly evident in The Valley News. Last week they took out nearly 2 full pages of ads under several guises in their continuing effort to promote their project before next month’s election. One was a half-page color ad by UPC pledging to “Save our town!” and extolling the “beauty” of its promised “new jobs!” “prosperity!” and “opportunity!” Another was a 3/4-page ad by Wayne Hunt with quotes from Judge Furfure’s recent court decision. Apparently the Judge felt that “Local Law #2… was not the first step of a larger project” nor were “changes made by Local Law #2… made at the request of project applicants as a preliminary step to this project.”

Where was Judge Furfure when Local Law #2 was made?
- Obviously nowhere near Cohocton where the picture was quite different. Without UPC there would have been no Local Law #1 or #2. Our Comprehensive Plan has no place for wind turbines at all.
- Throughout the entire process it’s been clear that our elected and appointed officials have had one goal in mind – working with UPC to craft a legal framework that would permit their project.
- UPC’s enormous Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) came on the heels of Local Law #1, and its even bigger SDEIS came almost instantly after Local Law #2 was passed and, oddly enough, fit its provisions precisely the way a hand fits into a carefully tailored glove. “Hearings?” Who were our leaders listening to?
- One reading of Local Law #2 should convince any sceptic that it was written by attorneys, not local politicians. And who paid the attorneys who wrote it? Hello? Is anyone home?

When a glove moves, it’s the hand behind it that makes it move. Unfortunately, Judge Furfure just looked at the glove and ignored the hand. We still have a chance in this fall’s elections, however, to turn the tide of deception that’s been overtaking our town. Browse through our “Updates,” review the Reform Cohocton platform and slate of candidates, and then help us get out the vote for people who can see through this whole ruse.

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A Crucial Tax Issue

Steve Trude, Reform Cohocton candidate for Town Board, has raised a serious question with our Town Assessors about the tax status of the UPC Wind project. A copy of his letter follows:

Dear Ms. Damboise, Mr. Densmore, and Mr. Domm:

SCIDA has not approved a PILOT for the UPC/CPP/CPPII Projects. The developer has taken the risk of starting construction without building permits. As with any building construction that does not have “special exemption”, the value of the entire project is subject to industrial tax assessment.

These UPC industrial machines, if built, reside on land of several Cohocton property owners, who supposedly have lease agreements with UPC. A host agreement between the Town of Cohocton and the UPC developer does not cover the independent tax jurisdiction of the Cohocton - Wayland School District and the County of Steuben.

Without a valid PILOT, it is legally required that such a project must be assessed at full value and applied to each of the individual property accounts where any portion of the project is erected.

Every tax payer in the Town of Cohocton has a financial interest in the consequences of the proper tax assessment that your board will assign to each of the leaseholders property. Your board has a fiduciary responsibility to compute a market cost value for assessment of this industrial project, publish your determination and adjust the tax rolls accordingly.

A PILOT exemption cannot be approved after the fact. It has been publicly acknowledged by UPC that the entire project has a cost in excess of $150,000,000. There is no agricultural exemption for an electric utility, which UPC was granted by the Public Service Commission. NYSEG and Frontier are taxed in this manner, so must UPC.

Although it is recognized that the aforementioned circumstances are perhaps unusual as a normal course of business for your office, never-the-less it falls well within the realm of your responsibility and mandate. How you knowingly and intentionally go forward at this point with required and necessary decisions is now the question and will be monitored closely in and for the public interest.

In the interest of full disclosure, the Cohocton Assessment Board should release their full tax value assessment for the UPC Project before the 11/06/07 election.

Click here to view a PDF copy of Mr. Trude's letter.

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VN 10/9 - Gone With the Wind

As excavation proceeds on Dutch Hill, Cohocton’s air is starting to fill with the crowing sound of YES supporters. How wonderful UPC’s out-of town workers are, we’re told. How marvelously things will “stay the same” (while they change dramatically) UPC trumpets in The Valley News over a picture of Larrowe House, the Town Hall they’ve just bought with their PSC mitigation money and promises. In spite of increasing opposition, both locally and regionally, the obstacles seem to be falling one by one. Only a court case and an election stand in the way of what might be a triumphant victory for leaseholders.

But if UPC succeeds, who will the winners and losers be?

- UPC Wind and its investors will clearly be the biggest winners. They’ll be able to take their entire $250,000,000 project as a tax write-off, account for another half of that in tax credits, and rake in over $13,000,000 a year in energy sales while rewarding our Town with remarkably low payments in lieu of taxes.
- NYS energy consumers will clearly be losers because they (we) will be paying an additional $134,000,000+ in energy surcharges over the next 20 years for the inflated cost of wind energy.
- Leaseholders will be winners and losers. They’re being promised fairly small annual lease payments (anything may be better than nothing), but they’re going to be surprised at how much of the scenery, peace and quiet, and integrity of their land they’ll lose.
- Non-leaseholders probably stand to lose the most: in property values, beauty, tranquility, social standing, and the total eclipse of local politics by a well-financed outside industial developer.

Truth stands in the balance. Is wind energy the wave of the future or a passing fad and economic scam? Only time will tell the whole story. In the meantime, YES people are ready to cast our Town to the wind. We desperately need some checks and balances in local government - people who will take a fresh look at everything that’s been done and make sure it’s right. Browse our
“Updates,” check out our main site, review some alternatives at Reform Cohocton, and then help us take back our Town this November.

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Shame on UPC!

Union workers picket outside SCIDA office

UPC takes the wind out of the local economy!
Corporate Giant thumbs nose at local taxpayers.

UPC has hired an out of state general contractor M. A. Mortenson that does not pay area standard wages and has brought workers from Louisiana, Utah and Texas. Why bring in out of State contractors and workers when the local contractors and workers need the jobs? Local Contractors and Workers spend their money locally.

Shame on UPC!

If you are a Local Worker/Taxpayer and are concerned about the local economy, please let UPC know how you feel.

Contact: Paul Gaynor, CEO and President
UPC Wind, 85 Wells Ave., Suite 305 Newton, MA 02459
Tel: 617-964-3340 Fax : 617-964-3342
Email: contact@upcwind.com

Brought to you by the Empire State Regional Council of Carpenters.

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VN 10/2 - Parade of Lies

The Ironworkers’ Business Agent in Rochester, Mike Altonberg, is one of the latest people locally to have his eyes opened up to the deceptive business practices of UPC Wind. Many of us have been seeing their lies quite clearly over the past 18 months, while others continue to swallow lie after lie without even blinking their eyes. They continue to believe that UPC Wind is a company who will hold to their word, even when they have violated it over and over; that Chris Swartley is a man of ethics, even a prophet, not an industrial salesman of con-man proportions; and that UPC’s promised PILOT payments are fair and just, not thinly disguised political bribery.

What lies are we talking about?
- That their turbine projects are agricultural enterprises (“farms” not industrial installations), built by a private firm that would never claim to be a public utility (unless it was to their advantage).
- That they are entitled to bribe our town with depreciated PILOT payments because their projects are supposedly “green” instead of paying taxes proportionate to the projects’ earnings.
- That their projects will be quiet (based on patently fraudulent noise studies by Hessler, et al), not disruptive to the environment, and visually unobtrusive.
- That they will seek and obtain individual building permits for each tower before starting any construction, giving landowners the right to work out siting problems unit by unit.
- That their projects will be constructed by local workers, etc…

How can local people be so blind? Unfortunately, at least one Finger Lakes town will probably have to fall prey to this kind of corporate deception so that everyone in the region can see the results and keep the wind developers out of their area. It’s sad that Cohocton may prove to be the “forerunner” in this way. Can’t we wait and let someone else take the fall? Our hills, sky, and wind won’t go away. Let’s take back our Town this November. Browse through our "Updates," check out our main website, visit Reform Cohocton to review your options, and then help us recall Cohocton from the brink.

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