Cohocton Wind Watch: Seeing is believing!
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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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Seeing is believing!

And seeing up close can be a needed shock

The intermittent nature of the power generated by the Wolfe Island wind project is obvious for anyone who spends any time observing it. There are frequent periods of time when the wind turbines there are not turning at all or turning only listlessly. The wind project there has never come close to generating power anywhere close to its rated capacity for any significant length of time.

We have seen the wind developer's own bird kill data. That data is very troublesome and points to a real and serious problem with raptor and migratory bird fatalities from the Wolfe Island turbines.

The adverse visual impact of the Wolfe Island wind project has hit many Cape Vincent residents in the heart and in the wallet. More than a few are very saddened over how the revolving turbines, and particularly the blinking red lights at night atop the turbines, have significantly interfered with the breathtaking beauty of their views of the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario.

Many acknowledge, however, that there may be one small upside to the arrival of the wind farm on Wolfe Island. When that project was completed in 2009 many Cape Vincent and other Thousand Islands Region residents came to understand for the first time what all the fuss was about with regard to wind power development.

Pictures of wind farms in the media, almost all of which are hand-picked by the wind industry's public relations people, tend to show photos of wind turbines in remote pastoral and isolated settings with little or no trace of any people around. But with the arrival of the 86 turbines on Wolfe Island, many of us saw what real turbines – spinning and blinking – really looked like. We saw how numerously and close together they could be packed, and we saw with our own eyes how intrusively they could dominate a viewscape, both day and night.

Some people conjecture that it was the erection of the Wolfe Island wind project that first stirred many previously complacent Cape Vincent residents to begin questioning wind development on our side of the River.

But I fear that looking across at Wolfe Island from a couple of miles away may not be enough for some people to fully comprehend what we are in for if big wind development proceeds on the US side of the St. Lawrence River. Some of you need to get a little closer. Some of you need to put yourself right in the middle of a wind farm for at least a few minutes. To be blunt, some of you can be a bit lazy and need to give yourself a bop on the head. Fortunately, you have two easy and convenient ways to do that.

The Wolfe Island ferry from Cape Vincent will be running for another two weeks before it shuts down for the season. On one of these beautiful autumn afternoons take the short ride across the river on the ferry to Wolfe Island (assuming you have a US passport or an "enhanced" New York driver’s license. After you get off the ferry and go through customs you will drive north on Highway 95 toward the Hamlet of Marysville, 11 km away. After just a couple of minutes on Highway 95 you will find yourself in the middle of the Wolfe Island wind project. Somewhere about halfway to Marysville pull your car over onto the shoulder of the road – perhaps near the intersection of Highway 95 and Reads Bay Road, or near the intersection of Highway 95 and Baseline Road.

Stand by the side of the road and look around you in all directions. Every vantage will be dominated by the sight (and sound) of wind turbines -- many of them very close to you. Try to count the turbines. You will be able to see almost all 86 of them. But if you do try to count them you will probably get too dizzy and give up. But then try just to imagine the combined wind project proposals for Cape Vincent with half again as many turbines as those you see around you on Wolfe Island! Would you really be willing to stand for that? Would you really be willing to put up with that?

It should readily occur to you that there will be many Cape Vincent residents who will have views of wind turbines through every window of their house – on all four sides! Many of those turbines will be close enough to the homes of many Cape Vincent residents so as to have serious sound and shadow flicker consequences. Will you be such a homeowner? What about the people you know and care about and with whom you share the town of Cape Vincent?

If you can't get over to Wolfe Island sometime in the next two weeks you can have an up close visual experience of an even larger wind farm just a short drive away. Just drive down Interstate 81 to Adams Center. and take Route 177 east to the famous Maple Ridge (Tug Hill) wind farm. You'll know when you're there. There are well over 200 turbines in the sprawling wind generation complex. Many are very close to the highway and many are varying distances away. Pull off the road and just gaze around for a while. The wind farm owner has even conveniently prepared a parking area just off the north side of Route 177 going east.

When you're standing there, close your eyes for a few seconds and try to imagine many dozens of those same such turbines (except maybe taller ones) being put in the ground across the length and breadth of Cape Vincent.

If you consider yourself a responsible Cape Vincent citizen, taxpayer and voter, I suggest you should also feel obligated to complete this simple and easy homework assignment. If you are one of those who has not gone to the trouble to see a wind farm up close you cannot possibly appreciate what you're missing until you do. Bring a friend.

Seeing is believing, and seeing up close is even better.


Thank you to a JLL contributor.

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