The New York State wind wars

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It seems the wind energy wars are getting nastier with every passing week. Small communities are being targeted by Big Wind developers … and the health, welfare and property values of their citizens are being sacrificed, thanks to an unholy alliance among industrial wind companies, politicians and “mainstream” media – all of whom are profiting handsomely via the Production Tax Credit and other subsidies.

So says Mary Kay Barton. She should know. She’s living the nightmare of owning a home just miles from gigantic turbines that are killing birds and bats, impairing her friends’ health, and sending their property values downward. Her own home is safe for the moment only because her community fought for years to block a proposal by Horizon Wind (owned by Goldman Sachs). But with Governor Cuomo’s Article X and the state’s eminent domain powers, her town and many others could be directly impacted by the noise, sprawl and carcasses of future Big Wind installations … and having their scenery, wildlife, concerns and well-being ignored by the same local and state media and politicians, who know the true color of “green” energy is green cash.

Production tax credit lets Invenergy hide the facts and desecrate rural America

by Mary Kay Barton

wind warsCongress’s last minute extension of the PTC or Production Tax Credit (aka: “Pork To Cronies”) within the December 31, 2012 fiscal cliff deal was good news for Big Wind corporate welfare profiteers, like Michael Polsky’s Invenergy. It was very bad news for rural/residential towns that are being targeted by industrial wind developers here in New York State, and across the nation.

Even though the Wyoming County, NY Town of Orangeville’s conflicted Town Board approved Invenergy’s “Stony Creek” project in the Fall of 2012, Invenergy admitted it would not go ahead with the project unless the PTC was extended. This again highlights the fact that the only thing Invenergy is interested in “harvesting” via its “wind farms” is taxpayers’ money. Even worse, once Crony-Corruptocrats in DC extended the PTC in that midnight fiscal cliff deal, the once-beautiful rolling hills of the Town of Orangeville were doomed.

While Mr. Polsky enjoys his new mansion, many Orangeville residents are now helplessly looking on in disgust as Invenergy turns their town into a sprawling industrial wind factory – rendering their homes virtually worthless – thanks to the legalized thievery of their own tax dollars for The Wind Farm Scam.

As Big Wind CEO, Patrick Jenevein candidly pointed out in his Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Wind power subsidies? No Thanks” and follow-up TV interview, “Wind farms are increasingly being built in less-windy locations,” because the wind industry is focused on reaping the lucrative taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies, rather than providing efficient, affordable, reliable electricity.

Nowhere is this proving to be more true than right here in New York State. Orangeville borders the Town of Attica here in the western part of the state. It’s a town that “First Wind LLC” pulled out of a number of years ago, after admitting that the Attica area “was not a good wind area.” It seems Jenevein knew exactly what he was talking about.

According to NYISO’s Goldbook, New York State’s installed wind factories averaged a pathetic 23.5% actual capacity factor in 2012. New York State wind factories are not generating enough electricity even to pay for themselves over their short life spans. It’s Economics 101, but it’s being ignored by politicians.

Renowned energy analyst Glenn Schleede examined the data on New York State’s wind factories and found that one 450-MW combined cycle generating unit near New York City (where the juice is actually needed) would provide more power than all of New York State’s wind farms combined, at one-fourth the capital costs – and would significantly reduce CO2 emissions, while creating far more jobs than all those wind farms … without the added costs and impacts of all the transmission lines to New York City.

It’s no wonder New York has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest electricity rates in the continental United States: 17.7 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) – a whopping 53% above the national average!  New York residents using 6,500 kWh of electricity annually will pay about $400 more per year for their electricity than if the state’s electricity prices were at the national average.

Despite making absolutely no economic sense, and despite the utter civil discord embroiling Towns across New York State for more than a decade, New York State continues to aggressively pursue further industrial wind development – with no effort whatsoever to protect the health, well-being or pocketbooks of New York State citizens, especially those living next to or under the wind turbines.

During his tenure as Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo did nothing to protect New York State citizens from the predatory practices and collusion evident among Big Wind developers. Once he became Governor of New York, Cuomo actively began aiding and abetting Big Wind’s efforts to trample rural communities’ Constitutional private property rights in his pursuit of all things “green” (aka: Agenda 21), by signing into law the new “Article X (10)” contained within his 2011 “Power NY Act.”

Cuomo’s new Article X put in place an ”Energy Siting Board” comprised of five Albany bureaucrats who now have the final say regarding the siting of “power-generating facilities” in NY – redefined to mean anything generating 25 MW or more.  Cuomo’s intention to clear the way for Big Wind developers could not have been any more obvious had he rolled out a red carpet.

Article X proceedings are already being pursued by British Petroleum (BP) in Cape Vincent, NY, and by Iberdrola in Clayton, NY. BP intends to turn our beautiful Thousands Islands, St. Lawrence Seaway area into sprawling industrial wind factories.  Devastating some of the most scenic, historic areas in the nation in pursuit of the “green” energy boondoggle should have all Americans incensed – especially since they are paying for it! For our communities, scenery and wildlife, Cuomo’s article is Triple X rated!

In Lichtfield, NY, another Big Wind LLC tried to override the town’s restrictive zoning laws, by using Cuomo’s “Article X,” so that they could install 490-foot-tall turbines.  Luckily for Litchfield residents, the FAA struck down Big Wind’s plans there.

Robert Bryce, Senior fellow at The Manhattan Institute, reported on the lawsuit going on in Herkimer County, NY due to the intolerable noise problems associated with industrial wind factories. His article title sums it up: “Backlash against Big Wind continues.” Other wind factories are in the works in New York, with unsuspecting towns yet to recognize the fate that awaits them.

Considering the growing list of problems associated with industrial wind factories in New York State (and worldwide), Governor Cuomo’s actions reflect criminal negligence by a duly-elected “public servant,” as he has not demanded health studies to safeguard those he was elected to serve and protect.

Adding insult to injury, Ben Hoen and his pals at the NRLB just came out with yet another bogus “report,” claiming industrial wind factories do not hurt property values. They can’t really be serious, can they? It’s Real Estate 101: “Location, location, location!” Any realtor who is not in bed with the wind industry will tell you, Location is the most important factor when considering a home’s worth and value.

If you industrialize a neighborhood with monstrous, noisy, flickering, bird-killing turbines (and in the case of industrial wind energy, entire towns, and those neighboring them), you are going to devalue it. Pretty much a no-brainer, right? Not according to Hoen and his pals in the ideologically-driven media.

After nearly a decade of researching and writing about industrial wind power, I’ve lost count of how many times my comments responding to wind-promoting articles have been rejected, and how many news publications refuse to report all relevant information regarding industrial wind power.

A number of local newspapers serving our area here in Western New York State – which has been targeted by industrial wind developers – have literally cut off all letters to the editor from local citizens regarding the industrial wind issue. These same newspapers continue to publish “Press Releases” on behalf of wind developers, and yet refuse to do any responsible, investigative journalism on the efficacy, effects and economics of wind power. The pro-wind media obviously control the message.

If “news”papers wonder why their circulation continues to drop, as people choose to get honest news elsewhere, they need look no further than their own refusal to adhere to “The Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics,”  which saysSupport the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.”

If wind enthusiasts actually believe all they claim to about the supposed “wonders of wind,” then why do they need to seize power and control the message the way they do? The answer is evident.

Either they are so ideologically driven that facts are not “relevant” to them – or they are getting so rich via the wind scam that they must squelch factual information as much as possible, so that the “Emperor with No Clothes” doesn’t end up being exposed for what he is – a charlatan who is swindling taxpayers and ratepayers out of billions of dollars in the name of being “green.”

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Mary Kay Barton is a life-long New York State resident, small business owner, retired health educator, and tireless advocate for scientifically sound, affordable and reliable electricity for all Americans.  She has served over the past decade in local water quality organizations and enjoys gardening and birding in her National Wildlife Federation-certified “Backyard Wildlife Habitat.”

Her most recent experience of “green” ideologues controlling the message is documented in more detail in the longer version of this article at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/09/new-york-wind-wars/.

About Author

PAUL DRIESSEN is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), public policy institutes that promote environmental stewardship, the enhancement of human health and welfare, and personal liberties and civil rights. He writes and speaks frequently on the environment, energy and economic development, malaria eradication, climate change, human rights, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development. His articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines and on news and opinion websites in the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Uganda, Bangladesh and many other countries. Driessen’s book, Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death, documents the harm that restrictive environmental policies often have on poor people, especially in developing countries, by restricting their access to life-enhancing modern technologies. It is in its second US printing and has also been published in Argentina (Spanish), India (English), Germany (German) and Italy (Italian). He was editor for Energy Keepers - Energy Killers: The new civil rights battle, by CORE national chairman Roy Innis; Rules for Corporate Warriors: How to fight and survive attack group shakedowns, by Nick Nichols; and Creatures, Corals and Colors in North American Seas, by Ann Scarborough-Bull. His report, Responsible Progress in the Andes, examined ways that modern mining operations can bring jobs, infrastructure, and improved safety and pollution control practices to poor communities. Driessen’s studies and analyses have also appeared in Conserving the Environment (Doug Dupler, editor), Resurgent Diseases (Karen Miller, Editor) and Malnutrition (Margaret Haerens, editor), all part of the Thomson-Gale “Opposing Viewpoints” Series that is used in many high schools and colleges; Redefining Sovereignty: Will liberal democracies continue to determine their own laws and public policies, or yield these rights to transnational entities in search of universal order and justice? (Orin Judd, editor); and other publications. He played a lead role in the “Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now” campaign, an international effort that restored the use of DDT to African and other malaria control programs, and served as an advisor to the film “3 Billion and Counting,” examining how environmentalist and EPA campaign against DDT had devastating impacts on families in poor developing countries. Paul received his BA in geology and field ecology from Lawrence University and a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, before embarking on a career that also included tenures with the United States Senate, U.S. Department of the Interior and an energy trade association. He has produced documentary films about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, immigration through Ellis Island, and marine habitats beneath offshore oil production platforms. Driessen is also a frequent guest on radio talk shows and college campuses, and at business and public policy forums. He participates in energy, health and environmental conferences, and was active in the Public Relations Society of America, where he served as Washington, DC chapter newsletter editor and in the Social Responsibility Section.

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