Cohocton Wind Watch: Wind turbines have residents seeing green
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.


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Friday, November 07, 2008

Wind turbines have residents seeing green

The proposed Bent Tree Wind Project has many county residents engulfed in a glow of promised “green.” Lucrative offers to landowners for wind turbines sited on their property and annual “wind right” payments have many asking, “where do I sign?” The Freeborn County coffer is also eagerly anticipating the promised wind energy production tax, estimated to be between $350,000 and $450,000 annually, should the entire 400-megawatt project get approved. This green glow of prospective cash amidst hard economic times seems almost too good to be true!

Well, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. There’s a saying: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” The underlying truth is that someone always has to pay for the cost, one way or another. But so far, I haven’t heard who that someone is.

I’m not talking about cost strictly in financial terms. Anyone familiar with wind energy should understand that power consumers will pay for the project through increased electricity rates, and all taxpayers will also contribute through the government subsidies needed to make the inefficiency of wind power to be perceived as viable. We have our elected officials to thank for determining that these costs were prudent, naturally with the help of special interests.

These costs, however, are only the beginning. The real and significant costs of this project would soon be felt by the residents of Freeborn County alone. After the dust clears from the construction of some 250 wind turbines reaching 400 to 500 feet into the sky, over 32,000 acres of peaceful countryside will have been turned into a massive industrial complex. Only then will the true costs be felt.

So the question becomes, what are those costs and are we willing to pay them? Our elected officials and state agencies appear to have considered this for us as well. One example is by setting standards for setbacks from occupied dwellings. Any tower constructed would have to be at least 500 feet from a home. In addition to this, noise pollution must comply with pollution control limits. Such standards are stated to be “established on the basis of present knowledge for the preservation of public health and safety.”

So where does this “knowledge” come from? Certainly not from the U.S. National Research Council, which recommends a half-mile setback from residences. Not from Germany, the world leader in wind production which has implemented a one-mile setback from residences to protect the health and safety of its citizens. Not from hosts of doctors and citizens who have testified to the negative health affects and dangers of living near turbines. (The list goes on.) If not from numerous qualified individuals, organizations and countries, then where does this “knowledge” come from? Any guesses?

I’m all for progress, as long as it is sustainable and safe. But the fact is if this project moves forward as proposed, residents within miles of the complex will suffer the costly consequences. Property values will plummet and health and safety will be compromised. In this case, ignorance will not be bliss. Either this project should be done right, with proper consideration of consequences, or it should not be done at all.

I encourage ALL Freeborn County residents to better inform themselves on the impact this project would really have to our area. There is an abundance of unbiased and credible information available at numerous Web sites, some of which are listed below.

Residents need to take a step back from the “green” glow and from the thinly veiled propaganda being offered us. Examine the real facts and potential threats to ourselves and our neighbors before jumping on the Bent Tree Bandwagon.

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