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Windmills Save Poor Farmer?

Innovative Dairy Attracts International Visitors

Lancaster Farming ran an article this week extolling the virtues of Paul Walcott's farm in Cohocton, noting that “windmills and a rotary dairy parlor set [his] farm apart.”

Long known locally as “the King of Lent Hill”, Paul was an early advocate of wind power in Cohocton and, according to the article, has 13 or just over 25% of UPC Wind's 50 Cohocton turbines on his property. At an annual leasehold rate of somewhere in the vicinity of $3,000 to $10,000 apiece (the terms are confidential because the industrial wind developer is a private corporation), Paul stands to make anywhere from $40,000 to upwards of $100,000 a year just for “hosting” the turbines on his land.

What effect will this financial windfall have on a the future of farmers like Paul? Lancaster Farming reports: “Depending on the size of the windmill and how much wind blows, Wolcott points out that a small dairy operation might be able to lease its land to a wind farm and retire on the profits. However, it isn’t quite the same for a large operation. 'It’s an additional source of income, but it won’t save our farm if we don’t do a good job with the dairy,' said Wolcott.”

Money apparently isn't the only motivator, however. Saving the country from dependence on foreign oil is also: “I think it’s obvious to most people that we need to do something about energy in this country and it seems like it’s better than sending our money to the Middle East for oil,” the article quotes Wolcott as saying.

The article goes on to note that there are those who disagree: “However, there still remains a minority of people who are against the wind farm. Wolcott believes even with sound science and facts to back up the process, it remains an emotional issue with some.”

Unfortunately, the “sound science and facts” Paul has been relying on to are deeply flawed, and the “emotional issue with some” that he points out may grow as Cohocton residents begin to cope with the total industrial desecration of their once scenic and tranquil hills that Paul's industrial installation has brought.

For one thing, the intermittent and unreliable electrical power that onshore wind turbines provide (estimated to be 10-25% of their rated capacity), will do absolutely nothing to diminish our reliance on foreign oil, whether it be from the controversial Middle East or elsewhere, because of one simple fact: less than 3% of the electricity generated in the U.S. comes from petroleum and most of that is from waste disposal. And the specious argument that it will cut down our emission of CO2 is even more debatable.

What is incontrovertible, however, is that the turbines Paul so eagerly invited into Cohocton have destroyed the natural beauty of Lent Hill Farm's “1,850 acres of rolling hills overlooking the countryside below" as well as it's boast that the surrounding area remains "free from development and urban pressure.”

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