Cohocton Wind Watch: Lee Miller 9/6/09 response to D & C Reporter Steve Orr
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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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Lee Miller 9/6/09 response to D & C Reporter Steve Orr

Southern Tier wind farm gets $74.6 million in grants

Dear Mr. Orr;

I hope you have done enough investigating to understand that when wind turbine companies announce that their projects have the "capacity" to generate 125 megawats of electricity, this will never be achieved in actuality. Every turbine has the "capacity" to spin around at maximum speed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days out of the year, but in reality there are only two places in New York (and Cohocton is not one of them) that has any sort of sustained winds to make turbines a viable enterprise. This was told to me by the attorney general's office, and verified by examination of wind statistics for New York. Places like Cohocton and other hilly parts of central New York simply cannot generate enough wind to overcome line loss. It has been estimated that under the very best scenario, on a "great wind year" - central New York can only generate that kind of wind to make turbines viable for a maximum of 90 days. This means that instead of powering 50,000 homes, the Cohocton turbines can only power 12,500 homes. 90 days, though, is the maximum - some years winds of sufficient strength to overcome line loss may only occur for 2 months out of the year, thus powering only 8,322 homes, provided it came in the form of 2 months of sustained winds.

But because wind events in Central New York are sporadic and not sustained, thus far utility companies aren't equipped to handle energy surges. This is why wind energy is not replacing coal or nuclear power plants - the utility company can't shut down these sources to take in a sporadic burst of energy from a passing storm, then fire up the coal and nuclear generators again, because this results in tremendous energy loss (it takes a lot to start up and stop coal and nuclear plants), nor can the utilities handle sharp spikes in energy production.

If you take the cost of erecting 50 windmills, at $50M per mill and use it for building insulation, the savings would be 170,000 tons of coal per year or 27 million gallons of fuel oil per year, with no maintenance costs. This is vastly more than the wind farm will ever produce.

When you factor in the negative effects of wind turbines: an estimated 14,000 birds and bats will be killed at each individual turbine farm in New York State per year (according to US Fish and Wildlife Studies at Maple Ridge), that the breakage rate for turbine blades is extremely high and expensive (a burden that will ultimately shift to the tax payer to pay for the repairs), the catastrophic drop in property values around the turbine sites (placing the tax burden on the poor, not on the big corporate turbine investors), that holes 80 ft in diameter and 3 stories deep must be blasted into hillsides and a minimum of 30 acres clearcut per turbine, it's pretty clear that wind turbines are anything but green.

A 50 turbine wind farm will devastate the landscape for miles around and due to low frequency vibrations making it impossible for wildlife and humans to live comfortably in their immediate vicinity without suffering ill-effects (if indeed animal species can survive at all). If, on the other hand, a 1,000 acre area - the size of a good-sized New York State farm and a lesser area than the turbines take up, were covered in solar panels in a place like Nevada or California - the amount of energy that would be generated, nearly 13,000 megawatts/day, would be far more than a wind farm placed in an area of low wind energy, such as central NY. No animals would be killed in this venture, there would be no low frequency noise, no negative visual impact, no drop in property value, no disproportionate tax burden on surrounding landowners, no million-dollar repairs too costly for a municipality to undertake should the company disappear, no 14,000 birds and bats killed due to it, no disruption of the mating/birthing cycle for other mammals (as studies have shown for wind turbines in England), no spike in energy production - just good, sustained, clean energy. And best yet, such projects can be undertaken by townships themselves and not just the big business corporations and foreign oil interests who are backing the wind turbine fiascos. Compare these figures again: 13,000 megawatts/day = 4,745,000 megawats per year with a single solar farm in Nevada v. 125 megawats from a windfarm at maximum capacity which can't be achieved, and only 31.25 megawats possible annually in central New York. The solar wind farm, which hurts no animals, which doesn't have broken blades that can hurl 1/2 a mile and has no hydraulic fluid that can be spewed (as a broken turbine did recently), at 4,745,000 megawats per year can power 18,980,000,000 v. 12,500 homes (using the central NY wind figures). Good grief, Mr. Orr, how can people with a straight face ever promote wind farms?

In the meantime, let's hope that you are telling your readers to do their part in cutting energy consumption and to think twice before they turn on the air conditioning (in New York state!!), put up the halloween lights and christmas lights, furnish tvs in every room of the house, crank the winter heat up to 70+ and do a daily laundry instead of the weekly laundry our mothers used to do in the 1950s. Insulate homes, demand that the government dispense funds to the people for this purpose instead of to a few select corporations whose electric scams (judging by Cohocton whose electricity is not even hooked into the grid!) are making them rich while the rest of us shoulder their burden. And you can bet one more thing, Mr. Orr - wind turbines aren't going to be put up in the Hamptons, they are going to be put up in poor, rural areas of Upstate New York whose farmers are being asked to give up the surface rights to their land for the next half century or more, who then suffer ill effects from flicker and low frequency noice (known as "wind turbine syndrome"), whose property values plummet so that they can't even find buyers for their land if they wanted to, who can't so much as expand a barn for the next half century because the rich turbine companies won't let them, and who are truly going to be in a jam (many of whom, like those at Cohocton, haven't even been paid yet) while journalists sing the praises of wind companies in a classic "rich prey on the poor" scenario. Wind turbines will never be put in the Hamptons.


Lee Miller


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