Somerset officials praised for updating town’s wind turbine law

Posted 26 February 2016 at 12:00 am


I would like to thank the Somerset Town Board for the update in the town law with regard to wind turbines; a lot has changed in the past 10 years with regard to this industry.

Certainly the size and technology has changed; in addition, as more of these have been built near people, negative effects have been reported world-wide. In fact, many communities are banning them from being built. Unfortunately Article 10 has stripped that right from us in NYS so the board trying to protect the community as much as possible is greatly appreciated.

I understand why leaseholders and Apex are opposed to this; they are in it for the money without regard for the community and neighbors. What I can’t understand are others who support this project or don’t appreciate the town law trying to protect us from some of the harmful consequences.

To think that it will help our towns and make it so our children can stay here is delusional. Visit the towns that have had these built near them; they are not bustling with economic trade! In fact, many report people leaving, some even abandoning their properties because of health concerns. Do you really think these effects and concerns are made up? That there is a mass conspiracy world-wide to discredit wind turbines?

People with no financial gain are speaking up; do you really believe what the companies, who stand to make millions, say over residents who have lived with the effects of these industrial wind turbines? The World Health Organization, among countless others, has recognized the negative health effects when turbines are sited too close to people. Frankly, from what I’ve read, even 2,000 feet is not far enough away; there are reports of negative effects as far as two miles away from industrial turbines.

As proven with the recent elections and multiple surveys, the great majority of residents oppose this project for the following reasons:

1. The energy benefits are minimal. Wind turbines in NYS work less than 24% of the time. Even when generating power, the output is variable, so it cannot reliably replace other sources on the grid and only causes peak load plants to ramp down or switch from generation to standby, in which mode they still burn fuel.

In addition, as reported in Forbes this past October U.S. Energy Administration data shows that electricity rates have soared in states generating the most wind power. That is not a coincidence. Speaking as an environmentalist, this inefficient source of power doesn’t make the grade; its disadvantages far outweigh its advantages, especially when sited inappropriately.

2. The addition of noise, light, and visual pollution is unacceptable. We are talking about approximately 70 structures 60 stories high! I am tired of hearing from leaseholders that they should be able to do what they want with their land. I can’t put a small one story shed within 15 feet of the property line with my neighbor but they should be able to put a 570 foot industrial structure across the road from me? What is right or fair about that?

These turbines must be lit and will be noisy, not to mention creating flicker and infrasound; even Apex acknowledges some of the negative consequences, although they try to minimize them by calling them “annoyances”. We also have to worry about radar and telecommunications interference; there’s a reason that Invenergy has to pay the cable bills in Orangeville.

3. The negative impact to the land and to wildlife is significant. Besides acres of clearance and blasting of foundations for thousands of tons of rebar and concrete, new or upgraded roads and high-capacity transmission lines are also required. Construction will affect water flow and quality and cause erosion and flooding, as has been documented in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. Besides reducing and fragmenting forest habitat, the vibration of the machines drives away wildlife, as noted on Backbone Mountain in West Virginia. Turbine blades are deadly to bats and birds and our location as a major North American migratory path makes this especially troubling.

4. The harm to our rural character far outweighs unreliable pay-offs to affected towns and individuals. As noted in numerous sources, as a project is later sold to national or international investors, payments are likely to be curtailed and taxes contested. The potential legal burden on towns is huge. Construction jobs, the more specialized of which will be filled by workers from elsewhere, are short term.

Approximately 10 permanent jobs are promised, but at what cost? Any business that depends on recreation and tourism traffic is likely to suffer, as will neighboring property values. The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management’s Wind Energy Development Policy “will not grant right-of way authorizations for wind energy development for areas incompatible with specific resource valuesincluding National and Scenic Trails.” Why is this project proposed here, with the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, Golden Hills State Park and the Niagara Wine Trail?

Long after new technology makes giant wind turbines obsolete, or after they are abandoned because of diminishing returns (just visit Altamont Pass, Calif., Princeton, Mass., and South Point, Hawaii), property owners and towns will be stuck with the mess. Frankly, if it weren’t for taxpayer-funded subsidies, these would never be built. We, as local taxpayers, would truly pay twice for this project, not to mention the loss of our quality of life.


Donn Riggi