Cohocton Wind Watch: Brad Jones 9/4/09 Response to WSJ Reporter Jeff Ball
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, September 04, 2009

Brad Jones 9/4/09 Response to WSJ Reporter Jeff Ball


Your article did not fully describe the reasons why many citizens groups oppose certain industrial wind energy projects.

The most significant reasons have little to do with visual impacts and nothing to do with Nimbyism. The best way for you to understand our position would be to come for a visit and see firsthand the variety of significant unmitigated environmental impacts that our friends and neighbors are having to deal with.

Our primary concerns have to do with economic development, noise, property values, and real estate taxes. All of these issues are intertwined.

We live in the Central Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY. The most important aspect of the economy here is tourism. People come here for the natural beauty, the 100+ wineries, quaint villages, hunting, fishing, hiking, skiing, and a rural recreational lifestyle. These same factors are what bring people like us to move here and make significant investments in residences and other improvements. We did not come here for the conveniences. This town has no post office, no school district, no public utilities other than electricity. We live on a dirt/mud road more than a mile from our nearest neighbor. If we industrialize our ridgetops we will harm both tourism and emigration. The population in our town peaked in 1845 and we are at about 60% of that level now. Bringing in more human assets is one of our top economic development priorities.

Incessant impulsive noise from the wind turbines is their most significant impact on people and property. In Europe, turbines cannot be sited within 1.5 miles of a home in order to safeguard human health. Here, setbacks are as short as 800 to 1,000 feet. You should speak with, meet with, some of our residents who cannot sleep in their homes many nights because of turbine noise. Many people are experiencing serious health problems due to sleep deprivation. To give you a sense of the noise impact, ambient noise here tends to be very very quiet in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 decibels. The DEC guidelines state that noise impacts of new developments should not exceed +6 decibels. The actual turbine noise at residences in Cohocton NY is well over 50 decibels or 25 decibels above ambient. The DEC describes such an increase as "intolerable". During nighttime hours the noise problem is exacerbated due to atmospheric conditions (calm air on the ground with significant wind at the tower hub height. Under such conditions we have measured turbine noise over 70 decibels. This is not NIMBY, it is simply about quality of life and getting a good night's sleep.

Homes with serious noise impacts have lost much of their value. In many cases properties too close to turbines become unsaleable, completely worthless. Friends of ours in Cohocton have seen the market value of their property drop. There are few willing buyers for a home that you cannot sleep in.

A typical wind project such as the one in nearby Cohocton may comprise several thousand acres and impact many thousand more. The loss of property value leads to lower assessments for those impacted directly. The rest of us are hit indirectly as the tax rate must rise dramatically to make up for the deterioration of the tax roll.

As an association we do not oppose industrial wind or any other renewable energy although we would like to find one that actually does produce power when it is needed. Rather we look for a thoughtful and scientific evaluation of environmental impacts and serious consideration of the trade-offs of any given project design.

Please consider coming up for a visit. We will be glad to host you for a day with an efficient agenda, and purely objective information. If you fly up, try JetBlue to Rochester. We will pick you up. If you prefer to drive we will put you up at a very nice B&B.

This is a great time for a visit to the Finger Lakes.

Brad Jones
Finger Lakes Preservation Association


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Risks of Industrial Wind Turbines is a group of citizens and organizations dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life of residents and future generations.