Governor shouldn’t take away local control in siting large-scale renewable energy projects

Posted 25 March 2020 at 8:44 am


Replacing Article 10 procedures for siting clean energy production facilities with an Article 23 process is a serious mistake. Overriding local decision making with state directives for siting solar and wind energy projects assumes towns and counties cannot rationally decide what is in their best interests.

When people practice self-rule, they sometimes make mistakes (witness the sale of the formerly Orleans County-owned Villages of Orleans nursing facility). That is the price we pay for democracy.

Global warming is not a hoax. We must address the consequences of our arguably excessive reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and oil. The science says global warming is one of those consequences.

I applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership on the coronavirus and many other issues. Nonetheless, in my considered opinion, those who would allow state usurpation of local control where clean energy production is concerned are mistaken.

Real human, environmental and economic consequences to siting wind and solar projects in places such as the Town of Barre in Orleans County exist.

Should the Governor stand against local self-rule on alternative energy projects in favor of an “end justifies the means” approach, he would be, in my view, unequivocally wrong. It should be up to people in the towns to determine the circumstances under which such undertakings occur in their areas. Highly productive agricultural land is used for such positive ends at a price. Increasingly endangered woodland habitat is sacrificed for such positive purposes at a considerable downside.

Yes, we need to drastically decrease our dependence on fossil fuel energy sources. But we must do so as sensibly as possible. Put solar panels on roof tops where crops aren’t grown anyway. Locate wind turbines in Lakes Erie and Ontario, or in some other location where woodland habitat capable of harboring valuable wildlife resources and removing carbon from the environment doesn’t get destroyed.

We will replace the Article 10 process with an Article 23 methodology that we will regret after those making the decision now are no longer “here”.

Sincerely yours,

Gary F. Kent