County passes resolution against turbines by lakeshore, saying they could endanger future of Niagara Falls base

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 December 2016 at 9:37 am

ALBION – The Orleans County Legislature made it official on Wednesday, passing a formal resolution against industrial-size wind turbines within 40 miles of a military installation.

Congressman Chris Collins has introduced the “Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act” in an effort to ensure that any new wind turbines located within a 40-mile radius of a military installation will be deemed ineligible for renewable energy tax credits.

The Orleans County Legislature on Wednesday followed Niagara County Legislature in supporting the legislation introduced by Collins.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station employs over 2,600 people and contributes over $200 million a year to Western New York’s economy, Collins said. Many of the employees live in Orleans County, said Legislator Lynne Johnson, R-Lyndonville.

She said the “Wind Turbine Encroachment Act” would help protect the Niagara Falls installation “from any future closure attempt.”

Apex Clean Energy is proposing to construct about 70 wind turbines that could peak at over 600 feet. The turbines planned for Somerset in and Yates would be at least 25 miles from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

Apex said the turbines wouldn’t have a negative impact on the base. The company has been consulting with the Department of Defense and Niagara Falls Air Force Reserve Station regularly “to ensure that any concerns regarding the base’s operations are resolved before the project is built,” Cat Strumlauf, Public Affairs Associate for Apex, said on Nov. 29 when Collins announced Wind Turbine Encroachment Act.

Two Yates officials – Town Supervisor Jim Simon and Councilman John Riggi – thanked the Legislature for supporting the legislation pushed by Collins.

Simon said the Niagara Falls base has a long history with changing aircraft and missions.

“The debate on the Air Reserve Station is ongoing,” Simon said, calling the site a “critical asset” for the community and country.

Riggi said the Collins bill would help keep “encroachment” away from the base. Riggi said he worries the tall turbines could give the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) a reason to shut down the base in the future.

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