“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”
Rural communities in New York State, and across the country, are being ecologically compromised by politicians, such as New York’s Schneiderman and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who continue to push industrial wind energy as a fantasy-cure for the alleged problem of climate change.
Trillions of dollars have been spent on ‘renewables’ worldwide, yet carbon dioxide has not been significantly reduced, while rural America is paying the ultimate price. Our countrysides, wildlife, and Constitutional private property rights are being sacrificed on the altar of “green” energy … for no net benefit.
Sadly, the mad rush for unreliable, non-dispatchable ‘renewables‘ is taking New York State – and the nation, down the same path that has caused “skyrocketing” electricity rates in Europe over the past 20+ years, hurting the poor the most.
Widespread ‘Energy Poverty’ (defined as power bills exceeding 10% of a household’s income) resulting in tens of thousands of deaths annually and threatened grid-reliability have been the results of these misguided policies in Europe.
Eyewitness to the Destruction
We moved to Wyoming County in western New York State in late 1999 because we loved the natural beauty of its rolling hills and the small-town, peaceful country living. Unfortunately, our dreams of peaceful living were shattered shortly thereafter when it was revealed that Wyoming County was slated to have over 2,000 industrial wind turbines sprawling throughout the entire County. Thanks to many good people getting involved, we’ve been able to limit the destruction in Wyoming County to only 308 industrial wind turbines (308 too many!) littering five townships on the west side of the Warsaw Valley.
Governor Andrew Cuomo was not happy that so many rural New York communities were successfully saying “No!’ to his favored wind industry. Thus, in 2011 Governor Cuomo pushed through his ‘Power NY Act,’ which effectively removed New York State municipalities’ long-held Constitutional “Home Rule” – the right to decide for ourselves what we wish to have our communities look like, 20, 40, 60… years down the road.
As a result, Cuomo’s power grab now places the decision-making process in the hands of five (5) distant, un-elected Albany bureaucrats as the Cuomo Administration continues to push industrial wind factories onto Upstate and Western New York communities.
Time to Step back and Assess Reality Please!
As New York State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman,* leads the charge in defense of President Obama’s ‘Clean Power Plan,’ it is clear that none of our New York State officials have bothered to take a step back and assess the realities being wrought on the environment and New York State taxpayers and ratepayers, whose money enables industrial wind to exist. Instead, officials continue to focus solely on recycled taxpayer and ratepayer money payoffs that large landowners and targeted townships are promised they will receive from Big Wind developers, and ideological dreams that have no basis in reality.
Townships who allowed themselves to be turned into sprawling industrial wind factories may have a brief respite from paying their town taxes (though County and school taxes are still due), but the costs we’re left dealing with far outweigh any short-term payoff. With New York’s first installed wind factories coming to the end of their original Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Tax agreements, we can already see how poorly things pan out for the targeted communities.
As Milton Friedman so aptly stated years ago, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Let’s take a look at the real-world results we have experienced here as a result of allowing the proliferation of industrial wind factories across Upstate and Western New York.
1.) Wyoming County taxes have risen yearly over the past 12 years (concurrent with the proliferation of wind factories in the County) – up another 9.68% this year.
2.) Wind factories are NOT paying their fair share of taxes, but instead “shift the burden of taxation on to local residents and small businesses.”
3.) Real Estate 101: LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! Property values are significantly negatively-impacted. Many homes are selling below assessed value, if they sell at all. [Three more properties in the area of the Wyoming County wind factories went to auction this week (11/7/15).]
4.) The Town of Eagle, which has a wind project, was reassessed to what they were told was 100% just last year (2014). But in 2015 they experienced a 40% hike. Apparently, after audited by the NYS Comptroller and cited for keeping too much money in their ‘rainy day’ fund, Eagle responded by jacking up their ‘worth’ to legally hide more money – in expectation of the brief life-expectancy of wind factories. Senator Patrick Gallivan also ran to the rescue, pushing a special law in New York State just for the Town of Eagle.
5.) Few – if any, meaningful permanent jobs were created here (maybe a few dead bird/bat picker-uppers). Western and Upstate New York continue to hemorrhage jobs as high taxes and electric rates continue to drive business, industry and people out of the state.
6.) The population of Wyoming County has decreased by another 2.2% since 2010 as people continue to flee the area.
7.) Nobody is getting “free” or reduced rate electricity here. In fact, New York State electricity rates continue to “skyrocket” as $Billions more of our taxpayer and ratepayer dollars are thrown into the wind.
According to NYSERDA, the average NYS residential electricity rate in 1999 was 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). The first wind factories went up in New York State in 2000 (Wethersfield & Madison). 20 wind factories later, and the average residential electricity rate in NYS as of February, 2015, is now 19.8 cents per kWh (according to the EIA, as cited by NYSERDA) – one of the highest rates in the nation, and nearly a 50% increase since New York State began mindlessly plastering the NYS countryside with redundant generation of industrial wind factories.
The actual output of New York State wind factories has been averaging a pathetic 24% Capacity Factor – many days providing nothing at all.
Noteworthy: New York State was already getting nearly 50% of its electricity from emissions-free sources back in 2000 – 29% from nuclear, 19% from hydro, and about 1% from all other renewable sources. Fifteen years later, with countless $Billions of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars thrown into the wind, and the breakdown is now: 30% from nuclear, 23% from hydro, and approximately 3% from all other renewables (wood, biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.). Natural gas is now providing the largest percentage of NYS electricity generation (approximately 40%), while coal is approximately 2% of electric generation in NY.
8.) The only thing that has been reliably generated by industrial wind is complete and utter civil discord. Community relations have been ruined. People who used to be friends no longer speak. Even families have been divided.
9.) Habitat Fragmentation associated with the miles and miles of industrial sprawl, access roads associated with wind factories, and added transmission lines that must be run from remote locations to New York City (where the power is needed), has forever destroyed “the sense of place” Wyoming County (and much of rural New York) was famous for, and is cited as one of the main reasons for species decline worldwide.
10.) Negative impacts from wind turbine-related ‘infrasound’ have been documented worldwide. In fact, New York State officials acknowledged they knew about the problems associated with ‘infrasound’ back in 2009. Yet, Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman – the very NYS officials charged with protecting our health, safety and welfare, have neglected to require any health studies to assure the protection of New York State citizens, while continuing to allow ludicrous placement of these giant machines only hundreds of feet from peoples’ homes.
11.) Lawsuits persist.
12.) Radar systems are severely impacted, thus impacting Homeland Security. Since it wasn’t in Invenergy’s contract to cover it, Wyoming County residents are stuck paying an untold amount for a new Emergency Communications tower after the one we had no longer works adequately following the construction of Invenergy’s Orangeville wind factory in 2013 (Another county-wide impact, as the new tower sits unfinished).
13.) The “flicker”/strobe effect created when the sun is behind the turbines, and the blinking red lights at night drive some crazy. The light pollution now corrupting our night sky looks like a cheap blinking Christmas tree spread out for miles.
14.) Since the diffuse energy of wind can not replace reliable, dispatchable, baseload generation sources, all of the environmental, economic and civil devastation has been for naught. Thus, consumers pay for the redundancy of wind, and for all the transmission lines that must be added to run across New York State to New York City (where the power is needed in New York State).
15.) It remains to be seen who will take these giant fans down once they are defunct. According to a prominent wind industry attorney, should the corporations abandon a project – whatever the reason, “The landowner will be liable.”
It’s long past time that we STOP the decimation of rural America for the destructive NON-SOLUTION of industrial wind energy.
Mary Kay Barton is a New York State-certified Health Educator (retired), Cornell-certified Master Gardener, and is a 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 “Backyard Wildlife Habitat.”