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Communities should consider many factors with PILOT agreements for wind energy

Posted 18 April 2019 at 10:44 am

Editor:

Wind energy is going to happen sometime, somewhere. I write only about the economics of a PILOT – a payment in lieu of tax agreement which can reduce the energy producer’s taxes and costs. The check list should include full disclosure and examination of the following:

1) Is any municipality going to work its magic so it can perform infrastructure work on the property? What will be the cost and how will it be recaptured?

2) Has the assessor been involved to determine the full assessment value and any offsets that the state may impose on school tax?

3) If the producer does not generate the projected local jobs under what circumstances and formulas will it be penalized? Will it have a local energy storage farm? How will job production be audited and accomplished in accordance with due process (state action doctrine)? Is there any requirement that local contractors be used when possible?

4) Has any municipality or agency incurred any costs that it cannot pay out of current revenue so it is dependent on the PILOT being consummated? This effects the trustworthiness of the process.

5) Has the environmental lead agency hired its own environmental consultants to assist it at the applicants sole cost and expense as provided by law? Will the lead environmental review agency at time be paid for that or any other services? (The ECL says the lead agency can take no fee.  Clearly it is cannot negotiate a PILOT fee or other fee at the same time as it is lead agency. Also if it does so behind the scenes or trades one for the other it is criminal extortion. That needs to be known or there can be no trust in the PILOT process!)

6) Does the PILOT payment propose to be tied to revenue or profit? If you remember Enron, its tax returns showed profits but the accounting assumptions actually covered up huge losses; the opposite can hold true too! This can trap the unwary municipality into getting nothing or close to nothing due to the way the books are compiled. Expert consultation is required.

7) Are the proposed payments in line with the PILOT charges across the state? Is wind energy locating here because they can make more profit?

8) How much energy generation is going into the local grid as a way to hold down county residents’ electric costs?

9) How much of the project cost and costs are being paid or offset by other governmental programs? Both set annual subsidies and subsidies based on production, sales, and losses need to be disclosed in full and evaluated by forensic accountants familiar with wind energy production.

10) What is the projected wind production for each proposed wind mill? Will it justify its costs without long term and continued subsidization?

11) Do the public experts (again by law paid at Apex’s cost) indicate the planned units are the best and least intrusive alternative? How long before they will be obsolescent and will the cost of replacement be justified without more local contribution? If there a commitment to rebuild?

I hope this list proves useful.

Very truly yours,

Conrad F. Cropsey

Albion

Our Letters Policy

Posted 18 April 2019 at 7:00 am

We appreciate input from our readers, and we publish letters to the editor without charge. While open speech and responsibility are encouraged, comments may be rejected if they are purely a personal attack, offensive or repetitive. Comments are the opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Orleans Hub. Although care is taken to moderate comments, we have no control over how they are interpreted and we are unable to guarantee the accuracy of comments and the rationality of the opinions expressed. We reserve the right to edit letters for content and brevity. Please limit letters to no more than 500 words and provide your name, telephone number, mailing address and a verifiable email address for verification purposes. Letters should be emailed to news@orleanshub.com.

Local residents don’t have to go far to hear beautiful music at church

Posted 15 April 2019 at 3:32 pm

Editor:

Gorgeous harmonies, exquisite flute and the haunting melody of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” hushed the packed Holy Family Church on Palm Sunday.

The choir of eight women and seven men, and fine organist-veteran leader Harriette Greaser absolutely filled this nearly acoustically perfect local church. On the “Sanctus” (Holy, Holy, Holy) from Franz Schubert’s Mass these 15 sounded like 30, with great dynamics, thrilling power and delicate control.

Margaret and I drive as far as 55 miles to hear fine music in Rochester and Buffalo, but only 9 miles to hear this Holy Family music every Sunday.

This Easter week, the music and services will again be beautiful, both selections and execution.  Gerald Golden will again sing the wide-ranging, 12 minute Exodus on Saturday night. Those who’ve heard him before will tell you it’s worth the effort to come. The acapella chanting is haunting.

The services, Holy Thursday at 7 p.m., Good Friday at noon, Holy Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Easter Masses on Sunday, 8 and 10:30 a.m., will feature moving, reverential music and Father Dick Csizmar and the many others on the altar will make it again, for those who attend all of these services every year, a deep religious experience and for those, who attend for the first or occasional time, a revelation.

Margaret and Bob Golden

Kent

Murray town government suffering from poor management decisions

Posted 15 April 2019 at 8:07 am

Editor:

As promised the campaign for better town governance continues. I turned in petitions for the Republican and Independence Primary Elections on June 25th for Murray Town Supervisor.

It has become increasingly obvious our town needs help. Poor management decisions by our Supervisor have led to a Confidential Employee Separation Agreement costing Murray residents tens of thousands of dollars. Imagine how those funds could have been used if re-invested in our community.

The recent attempts to adopt an overly restrictive zoning regulation while ignoring opinions of State, County and Murray residents is further evidence. Why and at what cost did we copy a restrictive downstate zoning ordinance from Orange County? This proposed law follows on the heels of Murray adopting the Town of Greece’s Enhanced Property Maintenance Law. Those chain of events suggest Murray is not headed in the right direction. While I understand the need for regulation, Murray should not promote itself as an overly restrictive suburban community.

We are a Right to Farm community and government should not run our lives!

So, what’s our plan? Where are we headed? The sudden resignation of our Planning Board Chairwoman and representative to the County Planning Board indicate more problems at the town hall. Our planning department is now adrift at sea without a rudder and attempts by our Supervisor to steer it are clearly not working.

I will continue to build on the positive community achievements our campaign accomplished. There are many opportunities to be had if we would only reach for them. As a Marine Corps Veteran, college educated business owner with 12 years of planning and zoning experience, I can help plot a more stable course forward. My wife Amy a member of the NYS Agricultural Advisory Committee keeps me abreast of the challenges facing our farmers.

By being fiscally responsible, community minded, inclusive and respectful of others we can build a better community that is sustainable for generations to come.

My agenda is clear: I work for you.

Joe Sidonio

Murray

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Progressivism has steadily eroded our republic

Posted 10 April 2019 at 7:59 am

Editor:

Gary Kent was right about one thing, our republic is under assault, but not by who he thinks it is. The real culprit is progressivism which began the day of Teddy Roosevelt’s inauguration.

The assault continued under Woodrow Wilson, who hated the Constitution and during whose administration we saw the creation of the Federal Reserve and the Sixteenth, the Seventeenth, the Eighteenth and the Nineteenth Amendments ratified. He was also considered a messiah by some with his Fourteen Points. He used our entry into the Great War to shape the world to his liking after it.

Independent judiciary? FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court in 1937 because they found his New Deal programs to be unconstitutional. He cozied up to Josef Stalin to reshape the post war world at the expense of Winston Churchill.

You can follow the Progressive bouncing ball through LBJ, Nixon, both Bush 41 and Bush 43 and lastly Obama. Central planning, massive government, diminishing rights.

And whose platform was abolishing the Electoral College, packing the Supreme Court, the Green New Deal, socialism and open borders to name just a few things that threaten our republican form of government?

Gary, as in a poker game, I see your William Barr and raise with Eric Holder AND Loretta Lynch.

James Tuk

Lyndonville

Resident fears a prison in Albion may be vulnerable to being closed by governor

Posted 8 April 2019 at 8:21 am

Editor:

My mother (God rest her soul!) was a seasoned corrections officer at the Albion Correctional Facility in 1971, when the women’s prison was abruptly closed, supposedly due to a state financial crisis.

She endured reassignment to Bedford Hills, making the long commute to near New York City twice a week and bunking with fellow officers during the week. With no little thanks to the Senate Majority Leader Earl Brydges, a Republican, the prison was eventually re-opened and has remained so for almost 50 years.

In spite of national prosperity, New York State now finds itself in another financial bind, and combined with a significant reduction in the number of inmates/clients, at least three prisons are slated to be shuttered under terms of the current state budget. Albion has been on the short list before, but the Republican-controlled Senate has always nixed any upstate closures. With Democrats now exclusively in control of Albany, Albion is virtually defenseless as it faces the likelihood of closure. This time, the men’s unit, Orleans Correctional Facility, is a prime target.

The Governor says he will rely on the recommendation of the corrections department to determine the closures, but in reality, the decision is strictly his. He has said more than once that he doesn’t view prisons as a jobs creation program for upstate. Factors such as distance from the home residence of inmates/clients (i.e.: New York City) to the prisons will be given prime consideration when shut down decisions are made.

But, this is New York, and politics as well as economics and social calculus will surely factor in the Governor’s decision. With its strident opposition to the Governor’s alternative energy program (i.e.: wind power), Orleans County has not favored itself in the Governor’s eyes. Local pols have piled on in their vocal and unceasing disdain for the two wind energy projects in progress in Orleans County. Certainly the Governor and his political advisors are aware of this opposition.

Will S.O.S. and its political minions be the deciding factor in closing down the Orleans Correctional Facility? Stay tuned.

Ralph E. Smith

Lyndonville

Many institutions that are critical to our democracy are under attack

Posted 5 April 2019 at 8:38 pm

Editor:

Subtly, or not so subtly, a system that has served us relatively well for 230 years—despite its many flaws and ongoing need for improvement—has been under assault lately. Those who undermine the Constitution’s efforts to protect us from authoritarianism by usurping the power of the courts and the legislative branch should be scrutinized carefully.

Features essential to the very existence of a republican form of government are being relentlessly chipped away at. These include an independent judiciary, free and fair elections whose outcomes can be trusted and—perhaps most importantly in Thomas Jefferson’s view—the credibility and freedom of the press.

While we had better wake up and smell the coffee before a system a great many people have given their lives to defend—and improve—is lost, it is not too late. But the clock is ticking, and Russian disinformation and foolhardy complicity on the part of ostensibly patriotic Americans continue despite what the Constitution says about impeachable offenses.

In my view, Speaker Pelosi is right to rule out impeachment of President Trump. As a member of the Cabinet, William Barr is another matter altogether.

Finally, your readers who really care should reflect on the likelihood that there is a great deal of truth to the proposition that there is a high probability that a person can often be accurately judged by the company he/she keeps.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent

Albion

New state budget will chase more people out of New York

Posted 4 April 2019 at 10:48 am

Editor:

In the past decade, over one million New Yorkers have fled to other states in search of lower taxes and a greater opportunity to achieve the American Dream. As a lifelong Western New Yorker, I want all of us to be able to afford to stay here with our families and loved ones in the communities we call home. But that dream is becoming harder and harder to achieve, and, I am sorry to report, this state budget will only put that dream further out of reach.

This downstate focused budget is a complete disaster, and I want you to know that I stood up for the people of Western New York and voted “no” on the budget and “no” on a 40 percent raise for the Governor.

At a whopping $175 billion, this budget breaks down to almost $10,000 per New Yorker. It was crafted by three downstate leaders behind closed doors and unveiled at the very last minute on a Sunday to lawmakers and citizens alike. No openness, no transparency, and the final package included substantial policy matters that have no business being in a fiscal budget discussion. And that debate occurred in the middle of the night under complete darkness.

This budget will continue to reverberate across the state and affect New Yorkers for decades. It raises state debt to $57 billion and implements $4 billion in new taxes that will hurt New Yorkers every day. Taxes on recyclable paper bags will make grocery shopping more difficult. Taxes on renting cars were doubled. Taxes will go up on internet purchases, and taxes will increase when you sell your home. The list goes on and on.

On top of all this, the governor forced through changes to the STAR property tax relief program to freeze the potential growth of your exemption to 0 percent. This is to encourage more New Yorkers to switch to the system utilizing a personal income tax credit; however, the new income eligibility to qualify for this program is slashed in half. This is going to cause widespread confusion with every homeowner across the state, particularly seniors who are receiving exemptions on Enhanced STAR. This action was unnecessary and is another example of how downstate leaders in Albany do not care about the taxpayers of upstate or Western New York.

Priorities matter in budgets whether in government, for your home or business. That’s why I advocate strongly for real investments in our upstate communities, especially in our education system, infrastructure and libraries. Unfortunately, this budget shortchanged these critical investments and actually froze the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) funding yet again, slashed Extreme Winter Recovery money by $65 million (which is used by local municipalities to fix pot holes and roads after the winter season), and reduced library construction aid by $20 million.

It also reduced Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding for college students by $23 million. While leaving upstate priorities in the dust, the downstate driven majority added billions of dollars for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), funded the DREAM Act (which provides free college tuition to illegal undocumented immigrants) and spent millions of dollars on pet projects in New York City.

As you can clearly see, this budget is bad in so many ways, and I am proud to say I voted against it. However, I would like to point out two key items that are buried in the several thousand-page budget that I strongly advocated for and am pleased were included in the final budget: making the 2 percent property tax cap permanent and restoring funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Programs in Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.

Still, the cuts to upstate roads and bridges, reductions to libraries, and the overall continuation of Albany’s secretive and dysfunctional “tax-and-spend” mentality made it easy to vote no on this downstate driven budget on behalf of the hardworking families of Western New York.

Michael Norris

Lockport

Norris represents the 144th Assembly District comprised of portions of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties.

Town supervisors in Yates, Somerset say some environmental groups are not looking out for rural residents

Posted 2 April 2019 at 9:16 pm

Editor:

The New York League of Conservation Voters now joins the Sierra Club in their condescending call for speeding up the process for large-scale wind and solar projects in order to meet Governor Cuomo’s unrealistic and politically contrived renewable energy goals for New York State.

The title of their latest propaganda report, “Breaking Down the Barriers to Siting Renewable Energy in New York State,” says it all. Rural, upstate NY towns should beware and take careful notice. The “barriers” that these Albany and NYC urban elitists insist to be broken down are the very planning and zoning safeguards that are lawfully and democratically put in place through our comprehensive plans and our local laws intended to reflect the will and desires of our communities but also to dutifully fulfill our obligations to protect the health, safety and welfare of our communities.

The NYLCV joins a growing list of “environmental” and “conservation” groups that are overwhelmingly centered in urban centers like NYC and Albany who arrogantly believe that they know better than rural New Yorkers how best to help build a more sustainable future. This latest “report” claims that if only rural upstate New Yorkers were more educated, then we would understand that industrial-scale wind and solar are the only answers to climate change challenges. How nice it is for these organizations to have so much to preach to upstate rural communities from the comforts of their urban ivory towers that will never be impacted by large-scale industrial encroachment.

A case in point is Apex Clean Energy’s Lighthouse Industrial Wind proposal for the towns of Somerset and Yates which is a blatant attempt to usurp home rule. Both towns, through diligent research of peer-reviewed scientific journals, extensive planning committee meetings and multi-year consultations with a diverse array of local and national experts have duly enacted local laws designed to preserve the rural characteristics our constituents value most.

The NYLCV, the Sierra Club, Apex Clean Energy, and any other group bent on telling rural NY towns what to do, would do well to remember that NY is a home rule state. Using terms like “speeding up the process” and “breaking down barriers” is not going to fool upstate rural towns who know when their home rule rights are under assault. Demanding that the state’s Article 10 proceedings should overrule local laws is elitist and dictatorial. All NY municipalities retain the authority to, “…adopt and amend local laws…,” for the, “protection and enhancement of its physical and visual environment…,” and the, “government, protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of persons or property therein.” (NYS Constitution, Article 2)

In the recent Cassadaga Wind Siting Board decision, PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes unequivocally stated, “I find it noteworthy and positive, that the project is consistent with all local laws and ordinances.” Chairman Rhodes stated that efforts to increase renewable energy in New York State must, “…protect and accommodate the concerns of local communities.” NYLCV, Sierra Club, Apex – did you hear Chairman Rhodes?

Governor Cuomo was clearly paying attention to the overwhelming opposition of wealthy Long Islanders when he said in his January 10, 2017, State of the State address, “I’m calling on LIPA [Long Island Power Authority] to approve a 90-megawatt wind farm. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms.”  Governor Cuomo, will you pay attention to the concerns of upstate rural communities?

Daniel M. Engert, Supervisor – Town of Somerset, NY

James J. Simon, Supervisor – Town of Yates, NY

Barre resident wants more disclosure from Apex on the company’s experts

Posted 31 March 2019 at 8:15 pm

Editor:

On March 20, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. someone held what they would like to call a focus group at the Clarendon fire hall complex. The company that officiated was called RMS, also known as Research & Marketing Strategies from Baldwinsville, NY.

In attendance  also were representatives from New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, also known as NYSERDA, a film crew and 6 residents of Barre. Feedback from the so-called focus group went something like this: introductions, presentation and then questions were fielded. All questions asked involved the Heritage Wind project proposed for Barre. But few if any important questions from the participants were answered.

They instead were directed to visit the Apex/Heritage Wind LLC office in Albion. Questions included: Is there asbestos in wind turbines? What about the rare earth magnets contained in turbines that are polluting vast areas of Chinese communities via their production? How about fire suppression in turbines? None of these very important questions and many more were ever answered.

When one participant expressed her discomfort with the filming, she was told that Apex wind was the only one who would see the video. At the completion of the so-called focus group the participants were given unmarked envelopes, each containing $150.

If that’s not enough Feb. 28 from the hours of 7 to 8:30 pm. Apex/Heritage Wind LLC held another dog and pony show at the Albion Middle School. At the event, which they called a forum, people were not allowed to ask questions from the floor as the presentation progressed. Instead they were required to write their questions on 5×7 index cards so Heritage Wind could choose which questions the so-called panel of experts would answer.

Apex/Heritage Wind, in order to try and breath any degree of credibility back into your project, I believe several things are needed. Firstly let’s have all of your so-called experts (well before an event) disclose all college degrees and certificates that qualify them to be called experts in any of the fields your particular event at that time will cover. To alleviate any confusion , the definition of qualify is to become officially recognized as a practitioner of a particular profession or activity by satisfying the relevant conditions or requirements – typically by undertaking a course of study and passing examinations.

In closing, I would like Apex/Heritage Wind to please post in advance all qualifications of each person you call an expert well in advance of an event. Please include college degrees in their field, what college they attended and what years they attended, so all of us can fact check.

John Metzler

Barre