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Wind Farm Plans Sputter

Plans for offshore wind farms sputter

As New York Power Authority officials near a decision point for their Great Lakes offshore wind-farm plans, they find themselves almost alone in their pursuit: Nearly all the other freshwater offshore wind projects in North America have stalled or died.

Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the other three Great Lakes are among the windiest spots in the eastern half of the continent, and in recent years wind-energy developers publicized proposals for a dozen or more large wind farms for the lakes' waters.

Today, none of those large-scale proposals are active, a circumstance that in some cases is attributed to fierce public opposition. Two months ago the Canadian province of Ontario, which had been promoting wind energy and considering development of roughly 1,000 turbines in lakes Erie and Ontario, terminated or suspended all offshore projects.

Only one small pilot project, in the waters of Lake Erie near Cleveland, is moving forward.

The sudden declaration of an offshore wind moratorium in Ontario was "a huge blow to offshore development in not only Canada but in the U.S. as well," said Alan Isselhard, an outspoken opponent of the power authority's plan.

"But I don't feel NYPA will be intimidated ... by what's happened anywhere else," said Isselhard, who lives on the Lake Ontario shoreline in Wayne County. "They have unlimited public money at their disposal to go forward."

Indeed, the authority — an independent arm of state government based in Westchester County — is pressing ahead eagerly, hoping to be the first offshore wind project in the Great Lakes. At an offshore wind conference in Henrietta on Wednesday, authority spokesman Louis Paonessa said NYPA was "very close" to announcing a way forward.

Since last June, authority officials have been reviewing five private-sector proposals for offshore wind farms in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. Though officials have refused to release any details about the proposals, each of them likely calls for construction of dozens of huge electricity-generating turbines a few miles off shore.

Click here to read the entire Rochester Democrat & Chronicle article by staff writer Steve Orr.

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