Cohocton Wind Watch: Cattaraugus County IDA should not endorse wind development
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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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cattaraugus County IDA should not endorse wind development

Editor:

Despite the political pressure from their handlers in the Cattaraugus County Legislature, the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) should not endorse industrial wind development in the county, since they were crated to stimulate economic development for industries which create permanent jobs and financially benefit the area. Industrial wind will do neither, and is actually contrary to the IDA mission.

At the final IDA public hearing in Little Valley on September 10, I provided the IDA with three reports documenting the decrease of property values after the construction of industrial wind plants. Included was research by a state of Washington realtor who determined land sales near a wind plant averaged only $66,000, versus the county-wide average sale price of $126,000.

The second report, from McCann Appraisals, Chicago, Ill., reviewed the sale data for 46 transactions in Lee County, Ill. after turbines were erected in 2003. The analysis determined the average sales price near the project was only $74.63 per square foot, versus $102 per square foot further removed from the project.

In addition to the loss of property value, industrial wind creates very few permanent jobs. The industry average is one full time employee per 12 to 15 turbines. When applied to the estimates 60 turbines proposed for Machias, Ashford and Yorkshire, this formula results in only four permanent jobs. This number is in stark contrast to the 16-32 jobs predicted by the IDA’s high-priced attorney at their informational meeting in Machias on June 1.

The alleged financial windfall created by lease payments to the leaseholders is also voodoo economics. Of the 57 recorded leaseholders in Machias recorded by Horizon Wind Energy as of June 1, 25 are absentee landowners, 20 of which do not even live in Cattaraugus County. How will their lease payments contribute to the economic growth of our immediate area when they live hither and yon?

The IDA is eager to pick the approximate $700,000 administrative fee from the money tree, yet they cowardly hide behind the trunk by refusing to acknowledge the adverse health and environmental impacts of industrial wind. They deftly dodge behind the towns, putting the onus on them for the turbine siting and noise requirements, while murmuring “those are local issues.”

The unethical behavior of industrial wind throughout New York state, however, is not “local issue.”

In Wyoming County, Horizon Wind Energy hired a former Perry town supervisor after she carefully crafted a pro-wind law. More disturbing, Machias recently appointed a Horizon leaseholder as their code enforcement officer and constable. Such political hubris was after the board was informed he was a leaseholder, and yet their draft wind law relies on him to issue the turbine permits!

Despite the IDA’s attempts to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the negative consequences of industrial wind, the stench from conflicts of interest will linger in their nose.

Based upon figures provided by the IDA, if the turbines were fully taxed at the rate of approximately $30,000 per megawatt, the 100 megawatt project proposed for Machias, Ashford and Yorkshire would yield $3,000,000 per year for the school districts, county and towns, totaling $45,000,000 over 15 years.

Conversely, the IDA’s proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) financially aids the foreign wind developer by asking for only $5,000 per megawatt, or $500,000 per year for the taxing jurisdictions, totaling $7,500,000 over 15 years.

In June, IDA’s attorney slyly described the PILOT as “having to give up a little to get some in return.” The math speaks otherwise. Over the course of 15 years, the IDA’s proposed PILOT would result in a $37,500,000 loss of revenue to the three taxing entities, far more than “a little.”

Shame on the Cattaraugus County Legislature and the IDA for selling us all out, for so very little.

Bradley L. Parker

Machias

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