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Updates

 

Post-Election Lawsuits

Which way did windmill voting tilt?

Steve Orr, Staff writer, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

As we’ve been reporting, a wind-power development company called Ecogen Wind has filed suit against the town of Prattsburgh, Steuben County seeking a judicial order allowing it to proceed with construction of a wind farm there without town board approval. This comes in the heels of a similar court action by Ecogen in early November against the neighboring town of Italy, Yates County, asking a judge to set aside a town board vote killing the project.

Ecogen, based in suburban Buffalo and backed by a firm with offices in San Francisco and Houston, wants to build a 33-turbine wind farm in the hills of the two towns, which lie not far from the southern end of Canandaigua Lake.

At least part of the motivation behind these bare-knuckles lawsuits is the fact that voters in Italy and Prattsburgh elected anti-wind farm slates in voting earlier this month. Ecogen clearly fears the new boards will try to deep-six their project, on which they say they have spent $13 million so far.

The question I have is whether the voting in the two neighboring towns is part of a groundswell of opposition to industrial-scale wind farms in New York’s rural towns. There are several dozen wind farm proposals resting with town boards across the state, including some in the Rochester region - and most of the host towns had local elections on November 3. Someone I spoke with recently suggested a number of those elections did tilt against windmills.

This is where I’d like to enlist you visitors to help. If you know who won and who lost in town elections where wind farms were a major issue, post a comment here or shoot me an e-mail. Between your information and what I’m able to gather, I’ll post a running tally as we move along.

By the way, here are the legal petitions filed by Ecogen against the towns of Italy and Prattsburgh. They’re slow going if you don’t like legalese, but they might be worth reading – for the rural town-versus-wind farm conflict could prove significant in New York’s renewable energy future.

Response:
In Italy the town voted to replace 3 of the town board members including the supervisor. Italy has been more reasonable than Prattsburgh as far as the current town board and their work on turbines. Prattsburgh who suffered through ridiculous 3-2 votes in favor of wind for the past several years has turned the tide and has now 4-1 in favor of Town Board Members that are not going to be greenwashed by Ecogen/Pattern Energy. The basis to both of these lawsuits is that the towns of Italy and Prattsburgh have used our democratic process and shown that they are "Mad as hell. and not going to take it anymore." Now the greedy corporation will turn to a bevy of lawyers to twist the facts into some sort of feeble attempt to go against the will of the people.... Maybe it is time for another Tea Party!

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