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Money is Like Drugs

When voters were polled in Webster this month after voting down a proposed $15 million community center, one voter was quoted in the Democrat & Chronicle as saying:

"We don't need to build a monument to our town supervisor. Money is like drugs to politicians — they can't get enough, and they can't spend it quick enough."

Click here to read the whole article.



A New Tourist Attraction?

Jim Pfiffer has just written an article in the Elmira/Corning Star-Gazette in which he wonders about claims that windmills could become a tourist attraction in Cohocton. Here's part of his report from Tug Hill:

Gordon Yancey of Martinsburg, N.Y., (about 55 miles northeast of Syracuse) owns Flat Rock Inn on Tug Hill, where 195 nearby windmills spin in the breeze, make noise, throw ice from the blades in winter, and drive away the snowmobile and ATV riders who are his main customers.

The 400-foot-high towers don't attract tourists, but instead lure rubberneckers, Yancey says. "They drive up the road, look at these things, get out of their cars and take some pictures and then drive away." Yancey says. "They don't stay and spend their money here."

Curious people may find the windmills interesting the first time they see them, Yancey says. "But by the second and third time, they realize how truly ugly and distasteful they are," Yancey adds. "They have marred and destroyed the serenity and beauty of the rural landscape. It's no longer a wilderness area, but an industrial plant."

Will tourists ever be drawn to Cohocton to see the windmills? Probably for a while to see what a project looks like so they can go back home and lobby against the wind developers who are trying to invade their area. However, once everyone has seen the ugly industrial clutter that they really are, most tourists will undoubtedly be spending their time (and money) elsewhere.

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Candidates turn heads

In an article published in yesterday's Corning Leader, Mary Perham writes:

The 2007 election season has developed some new twists and turns with a large field of candidates successfully submitting independent designating petitions to assure themselves a spot on the Nov. 6 ballot. The petitions, submitted to the Steuben County Board of Elections last week, allow candidates to run for office without endorsement from official parties. The number of signatures varies, depending on the number of voters registered in each municipality in 2006. A number of competitions are shaping up in several towns stirred by issues ranging from comprehensive plans to wind turbines.

In Cohocton, the construction of a 51-turbine farm in the town is slated to begin this year. Opponents have one lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court and another under appeal. The group said Wednesday more will be filed soon to prevent construction. However, as political candidates, the wind farm opponents do not mention the wind project as an issue on their Web site. Instead, the political newcomers aim to oust all current town officials, charging them with incompetence and mismanagement.

The group has fielded a full slate of Republican candidates for the primary, facing incumbent Town Supervisor Jack Zigenfus, Town Clerk Sandra Riley, Town Justice Hal Graham, Highway Superintendent Thomas Simons, and town assessors Mark Densmore and Joanne Damboise. In addition, eight Reform Cohocton candidates have filed designating petitions to compete in November, as a back-up to the primary battle.

Click here to review the Reform Cohocton Platform.



Host Community Agreement

We've been able to get a copy of the 50-page "Host Community Agreement" Jack Zigenfus signed on behalf of the Town almost 2 weeks ago.

The document starts with an introduction in which we are told upfront that the "Agreement" is with "Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company." Why on earth does an international wind company with US home offices in Massachusetts need to do business in NY through a Delaware LLC that is conveniently out of legal reach?

The Agreement then goes through 6 full pages of legal definitions, followed by 36 pages of legal contingencies, and concludes with several signature pages and a projected payment schedule. Copies of several critical underlying agreements referenced in the document aren't available yet. These include 1) a "PILOT Agreement" with SCIDA (won't be ready for a month), 2) a "Host Mortgage," 3) a "Road Use Agreement,"4) an "Oversight Agreement," 5) and a "Security Agreement," among others.

One interesting clause (Section 29.1.1.) reads as follows: "at the Company's option, the Company may terminate this Agreement at any time, by written notice to the Town (the date of such notice being the "Termination Date"), delivered on or before September 1, 2008."

We firmly believe that the electorate should and must be included in any decision-making of this magnitude and that construction should be delayed at least until all documents pertaining to any proposed Agreement are made public and citizens can express their will in this fall's elections. Click here to read the entire "Agreement" as it currently stands.

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Town Board Campaign Letter

We've just received a letter from the Town Board, dated 8/15, heralded by an ad in this week's Valley News, and apparently mailed out to all Cohocton residents, in which our elected officials announce in glowing terms "that the final agreements have been signed to allow for the first Wind Power Project in the Southern Tier of New York State" and that "there will be approximately 50 wind turbines generating 2.5 Megawatts each of clean renewable energy in the Town of Cohocton."

The letter confesses (boasts?) up front that they've been working the proposed project for "the past few years" even though most of the town's citizens were not made aware of their plans until April 2006, well after the last election in which voters could have expressed their sentiments. Then, after telling us about the financial windfall they think their "agreements" will bring to Cohocton, they go on to tell us that they really haven't figured out what to do with the promised money.

It seems clear from the letter that our current administration is deeply committed to getting UPC's project well into the construction phase before the voters can express their will in this fall's election. Whatever happened to truly representative government in our Town?

We'll post a copy of the Agreement our town leaders have just signed as soon as we can obtain one. In the meantime, click here to read their letter, and then visit Reform Cohocton to consider some alternatives.

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VN 8/21 - Cohocton Bought?

Apparently Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC (CPP) and Canandaigua Power Partners II, LLC (CPP II), which are wholly-owned subsidiaries of UPC New York Wind, LLC, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of UPC Wind Partners, LLC (UPC Wind) are convinced that they can buy Cohocton. And the main reason for their confidence can be found in a group of incumbent elected officials who apparently believe that Cohocton can and should be sold to the highest bidder. We’ve all just been told that, after months of negotiations, our Town leaders have entered into a 100+ page financial agreement with UPC Wind to sell the town for $10 million, to be paid over the next 20 years. During that time, in return, UPC Wind can and will do whatever it pleases with our town’s character, viewscapes, and politics.

What’s the problem with that?
- First of all, we don’t need UPC Wind’s money. Money is always nice, of course, but there is a difference between desire and need.
- Second, this is “funny money” that’s being put forward on a series (100+ pages worth) of carefully contingent promises.
- Third, there are already several layers of LLCs (Limited Liability Corporations) between the investors, their promises, and the Town. Many more will come over the next 20 years, so that by the time the cheating becomes obvious to everyone the originators of the scheme will already have taken their money and run.
- Fourth, what’s $10 million over 20 years in a project that’s going to cost $250 million, give or take, up front and reap its investors countless millions more in earnings and tax breaks? This is a deal?
- Fifth, sixth, seventh… the list can go on and on…

Who are we kidding?
By now UPC Wind must be laughing all the way to the bank. The rank deception and corruption of local politics that have characterized this entire process will only continue to accumulate unless men and women of good will rise to the occasion and take back our Town this fall. Visit us our main website, check out our “Updates” section, and then help us recall Cohocton from the brink.

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Full Text of PSC Decision

We have obtained a copy of this week's decision by the Public Service Commission approving UPC Wind's requests for 1) a certificate of public convenience and necessity pursuant to Section 68 of the Public Service Law, 2) approval of financing pursuant to Section 69 of the Public Service Law, and 3) approval a lightened regulatory regime as an electric corporation. Several fairly substantial contingencies were attached, which are worth reviewing. It is also interesting to note that UPC has been allowed to masquerade as a private corporation when it is expedient (e.g., withholding information based on the claim that it is private and proprietary) while being granted special treatment as a public utility. Can claims of eminent domain be far behind?

Click here to read the entire decision.

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What is a Megawatt?

The following claim was made by UPC Wind and repeated in yesterday's Democrat & Chronicle article (see below) about the Cohocton wind project:

"It said the proposed facilities would have a combined electric generating capacity of 127.5 megawatts to power approximately 45,000 homes on an average annual basis."

How can we evaluate exaggerated claims like these? Click here to read an article that will explain the process clearly.



Being a Good Neighbor

According to an article in yesterday's Democrat & Chronicle:

The Public Service Commission announced that it had authorized the construction and operation of wind energy generating projects capable of generating 127.5 megawatts of electricity in the two towns.

The commission said it would impose conditions on the projects in Cohocton and the Dutch Hill area of Avoca, near Bath, to ensure safe, reliable and adequate service. The wind turbines were proposed by Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC and Canandaigua Power Partners II, LLC.

According to documents on file with the commission, there was serious opposition to the project, including from the towns of Naples, Ontario County, and Italy, Yates County, that are just to the north of Cohocton and Avoca.

It will be interesting to see what "conditions" the PSC will impose and read more about the concerns of our fellow citizens in neighboring towns. We'll post the full text of the PSC ruling as soon as we get it. In the meantime, click here to read the entire D&C article.



News from Prattsburgh

Hello Everyone,

So it seems that UPC definitely does not have enough easements for the transmission lines. They are going around trying to get people to sign for easements and, as they've done in the past, they are lying about who else has signed up. Maybe they don't exactly lie -- they just make "implications." Perhaps they think that none of us ever speak to one another. So if you are approached, please be aware that others have not necessarily "caved in."

They say they are starting in the spring, however they have to work out their transmission problem first as well as do a long list of things enumerated in the findings statement.

For our part, we have contacted FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) about irregularities, we are waiting for the PSC to respond to our request to get involved in the Ecogen project, the UPC project and the Cohocton project.

The anti-trust document submitted to the Justice Department keeps getting longer as people from all over the country send in information and we hear more things about the way the wind developers are operating. The appeal of the Ecogen Article 78 is proceeding and I believe an Article 78 against SCIDA for approving Windfarm Prattsburgh is also proceeding.

We will keep on watching them.




VN 8/14 - Green Power?

From the beginning, the idea of constructing a massive industrial wind power plant in Cohocton has been put forward as an environment gift, an unobtrusive enhancement of the rural countryside that will generate an endless supply of nearly free electricity without producing any CO2, a "totally green" project that has nothing but benefit - a "no-brainer" in YES! Wind Power's words. Can you believe that something so pure and good could actually bring something else that's green into town?

YES, indeed! Greenbacks, lots and lots of them!
- The green bottom line: We're about to be told just how much we might be paid for being so virtuous. It all depends, of course, but…
- We're going to get so much money, the story line goes, that even Scrooge McDuck will be jealous. Like Scrooge, we may have to get bulldozers to push the piles of cash around in our warehouses.
- Money for the schools, money for the Town, money for SCIDA, money for you and me in tax savings and leasehold payments.
- Bundles and bundles of cash, millions and millions of dollars, will come flooding in from our marvelous machines, just like the prophet Chris foretold when he first came to our little kingdom.

While all this promising is going on, many of us are receiving letters from the Harris Beach legal firm, which has been serving as counsel for the wind industry locally but in this case it is working for a group of litigants who are suing "Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, Columbia Energy Group, Columbia Energy Resources, and all their predecessors, successors, subsidiaries and parents, including but not limited to Columbia Natural Resources, LLC, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC and NiSource, Inc." for nearly $2,000,000 in gas royalties that we've been cheated out of.

Who really thinks UPC Wind Partners LLC, Canandaigua Power Partners I, Canandaigua Power Partners II, etc., etc. will be any more honest? Visit the Promises section of our main website, check out our "Updates" section, and then help us call our bedazzled neighbors back to reality.



Get Ready to be Cheated

Received in yesterday's mail:

Dear Natural Gas Royalty Owner,

This notice informs you of a class action against Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation, Columbia Energy Group, Columbia Energy Resources, and all their predecessors, successors, subsidiaries and parents, including but not limited to Columbia Natural Resources, LLC, Chesapeake Appalachia LLC and NiSource, Inc., and a proposed settlement of the class action claims. For the sake of brevity and clarity, these companies will be referred to for the remainder of this notice simply as “Columbia” or “Defendants,” except where it is necessary to distinguish among them. This notice describes the class action and proposed settlement, and informs you of your rights as a class member. You are being sent this notice because you were identified as a Natural Gas Royalty Owner for whom royalty payments due to you by Columbia under a natural gas lease may have been underpaid.

The Basis Of The Claims Against Columbia

In this lawsuit, Plaintiffs contend that royalties due to the members of the Plaintiff Class have been underpaid. Plaintiffs allege that the royalty underpayment is the result of Columbia: (1) taking improper deductions in calculating the royalties; and (2) failing to obtain the highest price reasonably available for the gas. In this regard, Plaintiffs have asserted claims against defendant Columbia Natural Resources, Inc., for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant to market in good faith, breach of fiduciary duty, an accounting and declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs have also asserted claims against Defendants Columbia Gas tortious interference with contractual relations and declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs seek money damages against Defendants, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

The Proposed Settlement

a) One or more Defendants shall make an aggregate payment of One Million Eight Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($1,850,000.00) to royalty owners in the Plaintiff Class. This payment will represent payment in full of all damages from January 1, 1994 through the date of settlement, plus interest thereon, attorneys’ fees, consultant and expert fees, costs and disbursements, and any other costs or expenses of any kind relating to the allegations raised, or which could have been raised, in the Second Amended Complaint. None of the settlement proceeds represents payment for punitive or exemplary damages.

b) In the future, Defendants may make limited deductions from the amount used to calculate royalty payments and may take no deductions for compression, or dehydration and other costs incurred by them, as specified by the Settlement Agreement. Estimated future savings to class members as a result of this agreement approximates at least One Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,200,000.00).

c) through i) Etc., etc.

Cohocton residents should be prepared to mount similar legal actions in the future against UPC Wind, Canandaigua Power Partners I, Canandaigua Power Partners II, LLC, etc., etc. They won't be able to use the excellent legal services of the Harris Beach firm, however, since Harris Beach would be representing the Defendents in this case.



VN 8/7 - Truth or Money?

250 Million Dollars is a lot of money. That’s the truth. It’s also a fair estimate of how much UPC Wind’s proposed industrial wind power project(s) will end up costing. The questions Cohocton’s citizens and leaders need to answer now are these: What else is true about UPC’s project(s)? and What influence does this amount of money have on people’s perception of the truth? As we all know, Truth often speaks in a still small voice. Money talks too, usually more loudly.

What is money saying in Cohocton these days?
- That UPC Wind and its outside sponsors can open a nice office, fund a staff, and conduct an expensive 2 year long public opinion campaign before they even turn an honest buck.
- That some people in Cohocton are already getting paid quite a bit, and a LOT more money will be “coming soon” (we just don’t have any PILOT or host agreements to “prove” it yet).
- That an enormous industrial wind turbine installation is really a quiet and unobtrusive farming enterprise.
- That we have 2 medium-sized projects here, not one huge one.
- That “supporting” civic groups and youth organizations publicly with outside campaign money indicates genuine caring.
- That Cohocton can help “save the planet” etc., etc.

Come on, neighbors. It’s time to wake up and follow the money trail a bit further. Who are we kidding? Who’s on the UPC payroll in town, both over and under the counter? When the facts finally come out (and they will), some folks might be very surprised. Others won’t.

Do you want to know the truth or would you rather press on and bear the consequences? Remember the time-honored warning that “all that glitters isn’t gold” and don’t let yourself be misled by money with all of its vain promises. Check out our main website, browse our “Updates” section, and then contact us to find out how you can help get out the vote this fall for people who will examine the facts more carefully and genuinely listen to all of us. Thanks!



More CFL Facts

According to ENERGY STAR, if every American home replaced just one standard light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), we would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs (enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year) and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

  • CFLs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.
  • Save $30-60 or more in electricity costs over each bulb's lifetime.
  • Produce about 75 percent less heat, so they're safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling.
  • ENERGY STAR Qualified CFL savings example:*,

Expenditures ENERGY STAR (26-Watt CFL) Standard Incandescent (100-Watt bulb)
Initial Investment$3.00$0.35
Energy Cost$20.80$80
Replacement Cost$0$3.50
Total Cost
Savings per Bulb

*Based on 8,000-hour CFL life and 750 hour incandescent life. NOTE: When comparing incandescent or halogen bulbs to CFLs, compare the light output or lumens and not Watts. Watts equal the energy used, not the amount of light.



Real Energy Savings

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." Leo Tolstoy

If every household in the United States replaced incandescent bulbs with fluorescent bulbs in just one room in their home, the nation would save more than 800 billion kilowatts of energy and keep one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air. The energy savings would be equivalent to the annual output of more than twenty power plants. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent lamps are more expensive than incandescent bulbs, but because they last six to ten times longer and save energy, they save the consumer money in the long run.

These are the savings that would occur with one lightbulb changed. Can you imagine what would happen if we all changed five light bulbs? That's the first of five things our federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending to make homes more energy-efficient and help the environment. EPA is also urging consumers to look for home electronics and appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR; heat and cool their homes wisely; seal and adequately insulate their homes; and tell family and friends to help spread the word that energy efficiency makes sense.