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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.



for this post

Anonymous Anonymous Says:

Wow! The weather was great for the Fall Foliage Festival. There were tons of people Saturday with the weather hovering above 80 degrees which is better than the 90 degrees that was here in the Virginia Beach area. Anyway, I was hoping to make the most of my weekend home.

Before I continue, I would like to add some additional information about my status in terms of wind energy. As of June, I picked up an engineering research position working with the Commonwealth of Virginia in developing its entire energy plan that would also include renewable energy. The scope of my work includes the electrical generation, transmission, and distribution plans for an offshore wind farm that would be beyond the horizon thus out of sight. I primarily focus on cost, design, and development of the electrical engineering aspect of the project. So, whereas my opinion was neutral before it would be hard to continue to respond to this blog without some pro-wind bias included. So, let me now continue with my response to your blog comment without being a wolf in sheeps clothing.

I got to see the UPC office and I was able to speak with the people who are very supportive of wind farming. They had a model of a wind turbine, pictures of various wind farms, and detailed plans about their operation. They seemed very open and very informative.

However, part of my work is have a pulse on public opinion concerning renewable energy. So, I wanted to go over to the Reform Cohocton office to see what the folks there had to offer in terms of opinions and information. Everytime I went by the office it was closed. I found that very interesting considering that the festival weekend was a huge crowd gatherer.

Anyway, I did observe the tall, white wooden wind turbines and the green signs that showed support for wind energy. There were literally 50 or 60 of them. I saw only 2 signs, one near the old Wilcox Hardware store which I believe is in Straussburg's yard and the other on Route 415 towards Wallace.

The only conclusion that I can get now is that Cohocton has decided to continue forth with wind energy. Like it or not, it is what the overwhelming majority of the residents want and it is evident in the primary elections and in the showing of support for wind energy.

As I drove away from Cohocton smiling knowing that my hometown cares and is doing something about the issues that face us today.

Blogger Bill Says:

Dear Gregory,

Thanks for writing again. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get caught up on our website correspondence. A lot has been happening in my personal and work life, mostly good with some difficult things mixed in (like a broken leg and a death in the family).

It was a beautiful weekend for the Fall Foliage Festival, but unfortunately my broken leg kept me house-confined. The following weekend we had an early frost on some of the hills, and now we're back into a short balmy spell. It's hard to avoid the unscientific practice of using experiential variations in local weather as personal guages of global warming.

You don't need to warn me about your personal bias, since it's been clear from the outset. In an early comment to our site you wrote, "First and foremost, I will have to admit that when I traveled to Western Pennsylvania last year and I saw the wind turbines spinning in the November wind a huge smile came across my face and my heart began to beat faster with excitement. 'This is what I want to do, power and energy,' I said to myself. I could not get enough of the wind turbines. To me, they were beautiful and spectacular." Now with your new research position in VA it sounds like you're going to be able to do it, and I'm happy for you.

Note, however, some profound differences between the project you'll be working on in VA and the one we're dealing with here in Cohocton. Yours will be "an offshore wind farm that would be beyond the horizon thus out of sight" while ours will be an onshore wind farm that will cover the horizon with dozens of visible turbines. I'm assuming yours will be far away from human habitation and have no noise or property value considerations, while ours will be allowed by local law to bombard homes with up to 50 dBA of noise night and day. Offshore sites typically have a capacity factor approaching 40% with predominantly daytime generation also, while ones as far inland as Cohocton are lucky to get up to 25%, a factor that is further diminished by their predominantly nighttime generation. So we're not exactly comparing apples with apples.

You may be right about public opinion in Cohocton. The elections coming up on November 6 will tell the story there. But elections only decide public policy, not truth. It's nice when truth and public policy line up, but human beings often run ahead of truth with their own ideas, only to be caught up in negative consequences later on. Industrial wind power is very poorly sited in Cohocton: that's the truth. What will happen after the elections remains to be seen.

It's nice to think that your hometown is doing something that might help the planet, isn't it? But what if the whole thing is a cruel scam, and when the "honeymoon is over" we all discover that we've been taken for a fruitless and ultimately rocky ride by a self-serving developer who was riding the "green power" gravy train? Keep your smile, Gregory, but on behalf of Cohocton and those who live here, please allow yourself to entertain that sobering possibility.

Dr. Bill


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