Cohocton Wind Watch: Bert Bowers September 28, 2009 Letter to Don Alexander
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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Monday, September 28, 2009

Bert Bowers September 28, 2009 Letter to Don Alexander


Thank you for your comments on my letter. You seem to feel my comments are misdirected, so I will attempt to explain more fully the issue I have with JCIDA. In your comments, you use the phrase "If, on the other hand, (communities) choose to take advantage of wind development, we provide a mechanism---carefully developed and crafted within the law---that they can take advantage of." Your idea -- that wind development is something positive, that communities may choose to take advantage of -- indicates that you may be unaware of the reality of how this development takes place. The fact is that the wind developers, who are backed by some of the worlds most powerful energy and financial corporations have decided that they intend to take advantage of our small communities in New York State. They do this solely for their own profit, which comes principally through tax credits and surcharges on our electric utility bills. By making available "a mechanism" you are effectively aiding and abetting the takeover of our communities by these powerful interests. The existence of your "mechanism" provides de-facto support to the false idea that wind turbine installations provide meaningful local employment and economic activity, thereby qualifying for a reduction in local taxes by means of a PILOT. It is very difficult for our small communities to resist these politically and financially powerful developers.

By providing a standard PILOT agreement for the towns to use, it seems to me that the JCIDA is endorsing the idea that industrial wind turbine developments are worthy of property tax relief. This is not an acceptable idea to any but those who expect to lease their land to developers and others who have not looked beyond the wind industry propaganda. As I pointed out in my letter to Urban, the likely impact on local jobs of wind development is a negative one. Why, when our misguided politicians at the state and federal level have already heaped undeserved tax credits on the wind developers, does this qualify them for further tax relief at the local level? This is a valid reason for local control. We do not have to be sheep and follow our national and state officials down the wrong path. The fact that something is "carefully developed and crafted within the law" does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do.

The wind developers have, without exception, acted in a most unethical manner. They first approach large land owners and negotiate secret land lease agreements. They bring in their PR firms to organize these leaseholders into a potent political force. All of this is done before the towns are officially approached by the developer. The rest of us are then under pressure to come up with an appropriate zoning law to protect citizens from the effects of the wind turbines, while the carefully organized leaseholders favor giving our towns over to the wind developers without any restrictions on the placement of wind facilities. Wind development is unlike other businesses that locate in a town do do manufacturing or distribute goods or services. Uniquely in the case of wind development, the entire town is converted to an industrial zone, with effects such as noise, shadow flicker, and strobe lights that adversely affect the entire community. This type of development results in significant loss of property values, leading to a loss of tax revenue for the towns.

As an engineer and economist who has been involved in the energy and transportation businesses for more than 45 years, I know that wind energy will never meaningfully reduce our use of fossil fuels or emissions of greenhouse gases. The shortcoming is not in the wind turbines, which are actually quite efficient but in the natural variability of wind itself. In ten years, it will be common knowledge that wind turbines are not the answer to our problems. What will the towns then do to remove these 400 foot plus monsters from our landscape after the developers have gone?

Bert Bowers


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