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Another Voice: Wind project must not proceed against the people's wishes

By John B. Riggi

There is a war being fought in Northern Niagara and Orleans Counties by the Towns of Yates and Somerset. A war for the very essence of our towns and quality of life.

Why?

The State of New York, via New York State Public Service Law titled Article 10, has taken home rule from these towns and is attempting to allow APEX Clean Energy to force a 201-megawatt industrial wind turbine factory on the unwilling constituents of these towns.

From the New York State Department of Public Service website, Article 10 is described as follows:

“Article 10 provides for the siting review of new and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities in New York State by the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) in a unified proceeding instead of requiring a developer or owner of such a facility to apply for numerous state and local permits.”

Sounds good, right? A statewide law that that ensures a consistent decision-making process surrounding the siting of major electric generating facilities sounds wonderful. However, a detailed read of the quote above exposes a fatal flaw for the people of New York State. It allows the developer to bypass the locality for all of the important project decision points, leaving the town exposed and defenseless.

What can two small rural towns do against the juggernaut team of Albany and the developer?

Educate, communicate and irritate.

Assessment of public comments made to the Department of Public Service website in relation to the Lighthouse Wind Industrial Wind Turbine Factory reveals a total of 1,155 submitted comments to the DPS.

The current results:

  • Comments in favor of the Lighthouse Wind Project = 222 (19 percent)
  • Comments opposed to the Lighthouse Wind Project = 933 (81 percent)

These results date from APEX’s initial public pronouncement that the two rural, lakeshore towns of Yates and Somerset were squarely in the crosshairs of this 201 Megawatt wind factory.

Interestingly, 61 percent of submissions in favor of the project are made by those who have no direct association to the towns as a resident or taxpayer. However, 85 percent of submissions opposing the project are from taxpaying residents of Yates and Somerset who do not want this project.

The will of the people is clear. This project must not move forward. Article 10 must not be allowed to suppress home rule and the will of the people.

The question now sits directly with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Mr. Governor, when are you going to direct APEX Clean Energy to kill their Lighthouse Wind Project and get out of Yates and Somerset for good?

We’re listening and we will keep fighting.

John B. Riggi is a councilman in the Town of Yates.

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