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4 state legislators raise health concerns over turbine project

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 October 2018 at 7:14 pm

‘I’m glad to see some state representatives are going into the state mix and are willing to fight for us.’ – Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon

YATES – Four state legislators have sent a letter to members of the Siting Board that will review Lighthouse Wind and determine if the 47-turbine project is approved in Yates and Somerset.

Apex Wind Energy is proposing the nearly 200 megawatt project with the power to be generated by turbines that are almost 600 feet tall.

“We all support green energy, but making sure all public health issues are thoroughly investigated and vetted by the appropriate agencies needs to be a critical component of the permitting process,” according to the Oct. 2 letter signed by State Sen. Robert Ortt of North Tonawanda, and State Assembly members Steve Hawley of Batavia, Angelo Morinello of Niagara Falls and Michael Norris of Lockport.

Ortt’s, Hawley’s and Norris’s districts all include part of the project area for Lighthouse Wind with Morello’s district close by.

The legislators say the project hasn’t been embraced by many in the community.

“The local opposition to this is intense,” they wrote to the board members.

In addition to the County Legislature in both Niagara and Orleans counties opposing the project (as well as the Erie County Legislature for concerns the turbines could jeopardize the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station), the state legislators note the POWER Coalition has formed with the goal of Protecting (Lake) Ontario’s Waterfront, Environment and Resources. The legislators say the group is made up of 13 environmental, tourism, economic development, hunting, fishing and birding groups.

“Recently, new concerns relating to public have emerged,” the legislators wrote in their letter.

They cited the push from the Western New York Health Alliance to have a baseline health study done before there are any permits issued for the project. The WNYHA includes the health commissioners from the eight WNY counties.

“The issue of primary concern to these public health agencies revolves around the detrimental health impacts from ‘infrasound’ that emanates from large-scale industrial turbines.”

Infrasound is low-frequency noise that often is inaudible

Th new Article 10 process gives the decision-making in approving a project to a seven-member state siting board, with two local representatives and five state officials.

“Since the Article 10 law is still in its infancy, the Lighthouse Wind project gives the Board an opportunity to set an important precedent: that the health impact of any proposed generation station will be thoroughly studied before a project is approved,” the legislators wrote. “Setting this precedent benefits not only the residents of Niagara and Orleans counties, but also residents across the state who might be impacted by a future Article 10 project.”

Yates Town Supervisor Jim Simon said he appreciated the legislators going on the record with their letter, and raising the issues for a baseline study and the concern about infrasound.

“I’m glad to see some state representatives are going into the state mix and are willing to fight for us,” Simon said at last Thursday’s Town Board meeting.

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