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Huffing and puffing over wind power
Did the federal government, as some have said, give millions of dollars in stimulus funds to a non-producing wind farm in the Southern Tier town of Cohocton? Not exactly.
Cohocton Wind is a 50-turbine project with a total 125-megawatt generation capacity - the potential to power 50,000 homes, say officials with First Wind, Cohocton Wind's parent company. In September, the project was awarded $74.6 million in federal stimulus funds from the US Departments of Energy and Treasury - part of a large block of funding meant to encourage renewable energy development nationwide.
That grant's come under protest, however, by Congress member Eric Massa, who wrote the president to ask that the funding be revoked.
"We should not be rewarding anything, let alone cash grants, to companies like this that have abused the public trust and created such a toxic atmosphere in our region on the topic of wind power," Massa wrote.
The project's been plagued by controversy, including lawsuits and an attorney general's office investigation into First Wind and other wind power development companies. Since the project came online in January, it's been dogged by questions about what it's actually producing electricity-wise - lately that's been one of the most persistent issues. Massa made the claim in his letter, which he sent in September, that the project wasn't producing any power, information he said he received from the organization that operates New York's power grid.
"Nobody knows what they produce or what they don't produce," Massa said in an interview last week. "They demand the privacy of a private corporation and the subsidies of a public utility."
But John Lamontagne, a First Wind spokesperson, says the turbines produced 133,370 megawatt hours of electricity from when they came online in January, to the end of September. That's enough energy to power 1,200 homes with average monthly electricity consumption...
Click here to read the entire City Newspaper article by Jeremy Moule.