Juvenile bald eagle in Yates is symbol of fight against big wind turbines

Posted 9 June 2015 at 12:00 am


I feel compelled to write about a small event with significant ramifications that occurred on May 29, 2015. As many may already know, the residents of Somerset and Yates are currently embroiled in a critical battle to preserve the health and welfare of our residents, wildlife and environment from the proposed Lighthouse Wind Industrial Wind Turbine Emplacement Project.

The project, as proposed by APEX Clean Energy, would plant 60 to 70, 600-foot tall turbines in the center of a fertile farming, wildlife and residential area in Somerset and Yates.

APEX is an out-of-state (Charlottesville, VA) firm that has no ties to this area or its people and has been surreptitiously wooing landowners for almost two years to sign 50-year leases to place industrial wind turbines on their land. The leases will allow APEX to erect these 60 to 70 sixty-story tall structures in a swath of over 12 miles in length, effectively splitting the whole of Somerset and half of Yates geographically down the middle.

Apparently, APEX believes this type of divide-and-conquer strategy to be acceptable. These structures, if erected, would be the tallest structures outside of New York City in all of New York State. We, the residents of Somerset and Yates do not find any of this acceptable.

Provided photo – This juvenile bald eagle is pictured at John Riggi’s property in Yates on May 29.

As a result of this activity on the part of APEX, the towns of Somerset and Yates are now internally divided into leaseholders and everyone else. The leaseholders have been wooed by APEX (again for almost two years) and have given into the lure of money at the expense of all else that we hold important in these towns: caring neighbors, fertile farms, abundant wildlife and the balance of all of these that make this area such a desirable place to live.

Somerset and Yates are now on the brink of utter social destruction due to the proposed project by this out-of-state company. A company, by the way, that will not sign the New York State Wind Industry Code of Ethics. Is a firm that will not commit to ethical behavior, in fact, ethical? I think not.

As such, the multitudes of concerned residents have formed a non-profit, member-financed, citizen’s coalition, Save Ontario Shores Inc. (SOS) to address the concerns of the health, safety and welfare of Yates and Somerset taxpayers and residents regarding the issue of permitting APEX industrial wind corporation to build as many as 70 industrial wind turbines in these rural towns.

Save Ontario Shores will continue the fight until the APEX project is defeated at the local level (Town Boards of Somerset and Yates, County Legislatures of Niagara and Orleans Counties) and at the State level (NYS Article 10).

As we are embroiled in this work to save the pristine area in which we live, there are successes and opportunities for improvement. And every once-in-awhile, small events of great import occur at the most interesting times.

That event occurred on my property on the morning of May 29, 2015. As is common knowledge, there are a great number of endangered and threatened species that reside, winter and nest in this part of New York State. In fact, the DEC has recently listed a number of these species in a communication on the New York State DEC website (click here).

The small event of great importance was the appearance of a juvenile Bald Eagle (DEC – Threatened Status) on our front lawn in the Town of Yates: This is the symbol of our fight.

John B. Riggi
Town of Yates
President, Save Ontario Shores, Inc.