Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Future of GLOW project appears uncertain

A plan for the development of the nation’s first freshwater wind farm in Lake Ontario or Lake Erie, which drew opposition from Oswego County officials last year, might have been scrapped for good, according to Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane.

Maziarz, the chairman of the New York State Senate Energy Committee, has claimed that through sources at the New York Power Authority (NYPA), he has heard the agency will not move forward with the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project (GLOW), though the NYPA has not made any official comment confirming that statement.

Members of the NYPA pitched the wind farm concept to municipalities up and down the shores of the Great Lakes in late 2009. The project plan included the construction of anywhere from 40-200 wind turbines in portions of either Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. After the project had been discussed for placement in the waters of Lake Ontario off the shores of Oswego County, the county Legislature passed a resolution, 20-4, expressing opposition to the project.

Seven of the nine county legislatures that had the GLOW project pitched for development in the waters off their shorelines, passed similar resolutions, citing that the project would not offer an increase in job opportunities and would present an eyesore to the affected communities.

Maziarz claims that he believes the project did not move forward due to the cost associated with the development of the wind farm.

In response to the senator’s claims, the NYPA sent an email to The Palladium-Times stating that, “Our trustees have not taken additional action regarding the proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind project. This is a matter that is still under review by NYPA.”

Requests by The Palladium-Times to elaborate on that statement were denied by a spokesperson for the NYPA.

Last year, members of the NYPA stated that there were five bidders being evaluated for the development of the project, and the NYPA said they expected proposals would be submitted late in 2010 or early 2011. This would have led to a two-year environmental review, which would include input from communities surrounding the potential sites.

However, those dates came to pass.

In August 2011, the NYPA stated that the requests for proposals were still under examination.
Shortly after that announcement, Maziarz requested that the NYPA release the key information regarding the project, including identifying those five project bidders, potential prospective site locations and other basic details pertaining to the bids.

“The power authority is sitting on this information,” he said. “It’s contemptuous. The public has a right to know how this project may impact the Great Lakes and upstate New York.”

Reports suggest that the GLOW project is expected to be discussed when the authority board of trustees meets Sept. 27.

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