A Free-Market Energy Blog

New York’s Cuomo vs. the Grassroots on Wind & Solar

By Sherri Lange -- March 11, 2020

Declaring war against natural gas is not enough. New York State has now extended the conflict to grassroots opposition to government-enabled wind and solar projects that cause demonstrable tort.

“We start with the most aggressive climate change program in the country because my friends, the clock is ticking, and it’s ticking faster and faster…. New York has to be the State that stands up and says once and for all, we have to do more and we have to do it faster….” (New York Gov. Cuomo, February 21, 2020)

Frustrated with the slow development of wind and solar projects in the state (grassroots opposition prevailed at Sommerset/Yates, for example), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed draconian measures to green-light controversial renewable-energy projects.

New York’s plan for net carbon free, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2050, is impractical on infrastructure and economic grounds. It is virtue signalling rooted in hyperbole and wishful thinking. More than an attack on the rich and capitalism, it is an affront to consumers and economic harmony.

Roger Pielke in Forbes, has unmasked the impossible means to a flawed end such as that as New York State under Cuomo.

So the math here is simple: to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the world would need to deploy 3 Turkey Point nuclear plants worth of carbon-free energy every two days, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050. At the same time, a Turkey Point nuclear plant worth of fossil fuels would need to be decommissioned every day, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050.

Riding Roughshod on Neighbors

Governor Cuomo is now attempting to shoehorn projects (wind, solar and battery facilities) by overhauling siting and timelines and by offering new incentives to crony developers.

The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, sanctioned by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), attempts to noose objecting communities and agencies into a mass renewables world, free of natural gas, nuclear, and the other energies deemed politically incorrect.

Environmental requirements would be smoothed despite local hurt. The Act would establish a new Office of Renewable Siting under the Department of Economic Development (DED) for one-stop permitting and environmental review. It would also provide stricter time constraints. “Municipalities may advise the Office on local laws, but the Office is not required to apply them, if they are found to be unduly burdensome.”

“Unduly burdensome” is fine for naturally economic projects without demonstrable harm (normal dense-energy private projects) but not for sprawling, open-air, noisy industrial wind turbines.

The Act also revamps and directs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development (NYSERDA, ESD), and other public authorities to establish new incentive programs for developers, landowners, and host communities. This process would establish to reduce risk in the competitive process, almost providing “ready made” opportunities.

Another chilling feature of the Act involves “mitigation” of endangered species, which it suggests can be parceled up in a bank, yes, an endangered species mitigation bank, at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Try to imagine how favored developers could mitigate impacts through “mitigation credits” at the DEC bank.

Additionally, DEC may choose to “outsource” the banking function to a non-profit. Of course, this could be one of the ignoble participants in deal-making (Cape Wind), in counting dead wildlife, such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society. (“Did Audubon Mass sell its soul to the wind industry?,” asks writer Christine Morabito?”)

National Law Review Summary

Here is how one legal publication summed up Cuomo’s new initiative in part:

The proposal would apply to large and mid-sized renewable projects, energy storage, and transmission, as well as directing the state’s agencies and public authorities to establish incentive programs to deliver shovel-ready, permitted sites to developers.

The bill signals a shift in thinking about renewable energy siting, from a bureaucratic energy regulatory issue sometimes hindered by fierce local opposition, to an economic development process focused on steering the train of jobs and economic benefits anticipated from renewables over the next decade as a result of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), while continuing to ensure all environmental requirements are met.

The bill will need to be approved by the legislature during the state budget negotiations that will occur over the next month.

The business advocacy organization, NYCOM (New York Council of Mayors) noted three contentious areas of Cuomo’s renewables siting initiative:

  • Default Approval Via “Fast Track” – Would replace the Siting Board and the current “Article 10” siting review process for certain renewable energy facilities and would deem a renewable energy project granted if not acted on within one year of a completed application;
  • Bypasses Home Rule – Would eliminate local zoning authority and the review of local environmental and economic impacts in siting renewable energy power plants, storage facilities, and transmission lines; and
  • Limitations on PILOTS – Would significantly constrain local governments’ ability to negotiate PILOTS and obtain an equitable return for hosting renewable energy facilities. [Note: PILOTS are Payments in Lieu of Taxes]

Objections Pouring In

Senator George Borello (R-Sunset Bay), long a champion of keeping offshore wind projects out of Lake Erie, for one, complained:

Now, in order to advance an extreme environmental agenda, he is proposing to eliminate home rule in order to force these renewable energy projects on communities.

This is bypassing local zoning and crushing any opposition. In order to meet his environmental targets, these projects will need to be constructed on a massive scale and with a density that will literally change the face of upstate New York, transforming it into a barren industrial wasteland. Countless acres of farmland will need to be blanketed with solar farms. Our beautiful shorelines will be marred by the sight of massive mechanical wind turbines towering over the water.”

In a Leaving-New-York State of Mind

We have frequently heard  President Donald Trump expound on the evacuation of residents from New York, and his relocation of State of Residence to Florida, at rallies and in the media. While continuing to express his love for New York, he has also asked residents of Upstate New York to leave, calling it a “ghost town.”

“I love those people,” Trump said of Upstate New York residents. “Those people are my voters. They’ve been treated very badly… If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job.”

President Trump is not the only one finding New York problematic. Hexed by high taxes and bad policies, the US Census data of this January 2020 indicated that “people are leaving New York at a faster rate than any other state in the nation.” For four years running New York’s population decreased, births and immigration could not correct the dropped population numbers.

Communities have repeatedly stood up and said NO to wind and solar plants. They have created zoning or bylaw changes and hired lawyers. Cuomo’s dream of 100% net zero carbon by 2050 is of course, unattainable. Empire Center’s Ken Girardin recently broke the news that the state last year generated slightly less electricity from wind, hydroelectric and solar than produced in 2017.

Warnings from a New York Resident

David Amsler, Farmersville, NY has written to Ms. Jill Fink Farber, Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs, January 7 2020 (Copy of letter on Facebook, Concerned Citizens of Rushford) of having lost huge value in his property, losing a dream, and his regrets.

We had a very nice place on a hill in Farmersville, 34 acres with a large pond, house with three other buildings in which we had invested over $260,000 and had every intention of living out our lives there. Due to my wife’s Parkinson’s we had been planning to make a considerable additional investment there to accommodate her, when we learned of the Alle-Catt wind farm proposal.

One of the proposed turbines was to be on the top of the hill across the road from us, and noise from it that reflected to the house by the other structures and our hill behind us, would have made for miserable conditions. Add to that was the fact that my wife’s Parkinson’s’ required much rest which the wind turbine noise would have prevented.

With the possibility of any additional investment made there being a waste if the turbine was located on the hill, and given the conflicted town board’s eagerness to allow such destruction of others’ values, and to enhance their own profits, we decided to move…..our only regret in moving is that we did not get completely out of New York State.


What is clear is that the Act is framed to curtail some very successful efforts by objectors to thwart, delay and kill wind projects on and offshore, in New York State. It is also clear to developers that solar, wind, transmission, and battery stations projects are now low risk and will receive ever-more government facilitation.

Cuomo’s latest action is another log on a fire of public discontent. It continues to be a maze of confusion; net zero carbon myths, the war on carbon, climate hysteria, and unpopular policy, replete in New York. The prognosis points to immediate 180 degree turns.

Gov. Cuomo himself stated: “Politicians are good listeners. Because if they’re not, they aren’t politicians for very long.”

Politician beware.


  1. Jon Boone  

    Thanks for this update, Sherri. Cuomo is the flea who laid down with the dogs of dumb and ugly, then continues to unleash them to exploit countryfolk for breathtakingly nefarious ends. It is the worst kind of colonialism, since, unlike past broadscale urban exploitations such as mineral extraction and railroading, wind projects produce only energy dysfunction. Except for avoiding corporate federal income taxes, they provide no benefit whatsoever. All things considered, the more wind output, the more NEED for fossil fuels. And more CO2 emissions. In all this, Cuomo’s efforts are abetted by virtually all Big Energy companies suffused in the production of fossil fuels and even nuclear energy: they realize that touting the “virtues” of wind in their energy portfolios can only enhance their investments in conventional generation. Their cynicism is both rampant and cloying.

    Because there is no accountability from energy regulators, and with the assistance of energy engineers, economists, and an epistemically demented media, the public is led to believe that the pigs of wind can–and do–fly up and over the laws of physics. And as long as the political system nurtures such piously evil gnomes as Chuck Grassley, the keeper of the flame for eternal Congressional wind subsidies, Cuomo’s wind depredation will continue to torment.

    The wind mess symbolizes the rot that has now eaten far beyond the core of American jurisprudence. Facts no longer matter. Orwellian doublespeak has replaced right reason. Illusion is privileged over reality. And the exercise of naked power, the ability to influence for the sake of its own perpetuity, holds illimitable dominion over all. This is not a situation likely to cure itself. It will require a mighty force and legions of people who have reached the end of forbearance.


  2. Mark Krebs  

    And be careful what you wish for. One good long polar vortex, while overly dependent upon wind, solar and batteries; and many lives will likely be lost.


  3. Sherri Lange  

    Jon, thank you for the amazing comment. This morning that someone sent a petition to the UK government to oppose the Net Zero Carbon policies being advanced. Carbon vilification is built on “guilt”, complete hyperbole. Would be interesting to have a chart of all the international carbon abatement/schemes. But who would have time. Yes, more wind, more fossil fuels. And can’t you wait until yet another industry arises out of the decrepitude of decaying useless wind (and solar), trying to make industries of usefulness from scraps and chewed up blades, and chips of toxic bits of solar panels. Right now, it’s where shall we dump this? Landfill. Casper, Wyoming, already has 870 blades. 8,000 are slated to be removed in the next four years. Where will those go? Will New York State receive from other States? Cuomo is not thinking into the future. At all.


  4. Sherri Lange  

    Mark, yes. And so many believe this is where the “climate” aka weather, is headed. Thanks so much for the comment.

    Many now say there is a “consensus” on cooling. And that it would be more serious than any warming cycle. Whatever Mother Nature does, we will not “save” the planet with wind turbines and solar panels.


  5. Roger Palmer  

    I have lived my entire life in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area of New York State. From late fall to spring and requires continued use of home heating furnaces. For the most part they are fossil fuel burning furnaces. Occasionally they are operated with the more expensive electric power. I have heard nothing from the Governor how he intends to upgrade all of these home heating systems to electric. Also all fossil fuel burning hot water tanks will need to be replaced. This wholesale “change out” will be extremely costly and an unbelievable burden on the poor and middle class. Does he expect to fund this with incentives paid for by the same cash strapped citizens?
    And what about all the manufacturing industry throughout the state. How will they meet this unattainable goal without going out of business for lack of proper capital. Loans through the state. Again that would need to be funded by taxpayers. Considering how New York is losing population in record numbers which in turn lessens the tax monies needed to fund New York government and its programs, how will this latest assault on New Yorkers affect cash flow. I see nothing but an increased exodus. Last one to leave please turn off that carbon free renewable energy powered light!


  6. Sherri Lange  

    Hello, Roger, and thanks for commenting….you raise a very super important issue: what are the actual plans of the Governor, to upgrade home heating, retro fit or destroy manufacturing, like it is even remotely possible to have net zero carbon. It is a suicide mission, not even realizable, which you eloquently explain. You highlight very clearly how “crazy silly” his plan is. One has to wonder what is the agenda: is someone in the back pockets of developers? Because none of Gov. Cuomo’s plans are remotely viable. Does he really not understand the evacuation of NYS? One of the most gorgeous and abundant states of the US?

    I think you said it completely correctly: Last one to leave please turn off that carbon free renewable energy powered light! Great comments.


  7. Suzanne Albright  

    Copied for evidence that Cuomo either has no idea how devastating his new plan will be going forward, but ultimately, ALL of NYS waste- from human excrement to industrial, gets shipped to “upstate” by Cuomo. So, this is our future here. One more MAJOR reason people continue to leave anarchist NYS in droves:

    “If you enjoy John Locke Foundation research and Carolina Journal reporting, you know wind power poses many ecological problems. It’s not just turbine blade waste, but also noise pollution, visual pollution, disruptions of military radar, eagle and other wildlife killings, and excessive land use.

    What makes disposing wind turbine blades so bad for landfills and the environment? All these things:

    They’re huge, from 100 feet long to the length of a football field.
    They have to be cut into pieces on site using expensive, specialized equipment.
    It takes a tractor-trailer to haul off a cut-up blade.
    They can’t be recycled.
    They’re made of resin and fiberglass and currently can’t be repurposed.
    They can’t be crushed for efficient landfill storage.
    Landfills don’t really have the space for them.
    Obtaining permitting for new landfills is also expensive.

    In the next 20 years, the U.S. will have more than 720,000 tons of waste blade material. Wind turbine blades are “forever waste.”…”


  8. Sherri Lange  

    Thank you, Suzanne Albright. Right on the money. It is not only the industrial wasteland created out of prime land, views, wasted water, wasted minerals, decimated wildlife, and people who can’t live in homes, but the aftermath of the devastation, for hundreds of years, and the mind boggling clean up, that will be necessary, if even possible. I think there is loads of evidence already of a failed green experiment. What is hard to imagine is that upstate NY as you note, is one of those dumping areas, in progress. And now of course, he has the most ambitious offshore plans in America, too. I fear that ANY wind turbine in the Great Lakes, will be seen by Cuomo as a “go ahead” for the coastline. It must not happen. But people are doubling down as you know, on the efforts to push down ALL of these useless and harmful projects.

    Also pile on substations, infrastructure, and battery installations….some of which are known to explode. The mess is not even conceivable.


    QUOTE: A recent explosion at an Arizona Public Service (APS) facility that sent four fire fighters to the hospital highlighted those concerns, though the exact cause of the accident remains under investigation.

    “The question of how you manage these things safely, when you’ve got thousands of these cells in close proximity, that’s still a work in progress,” Donald Sadoway, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert in battery technology, told Utility Dive.


  9. Michael Spencley  

    Thanks to MasterResource and Sherri Lange for staying on top of this file.

    It appears that Governor Cuomo believes that upstate New York and the Great Lakes are purely expendable industrial sites. The elimination of “Siting Boards” where local research and debate can be openly aired, and usurping local zoning authorities and their critical review of local environmental and economic impacts, is sheer madness and emphatically undemocratic. It has been said that “foolishness is more than being stupid, that deadly combination of arrogance and ignorance.

    One can only hope that this tyrannical politician should be appropriately rewarded by the electorate in the upcoming election.


  10. Sherri Lange  

    Thank you, Michael. The vastness of Cuomo’s ambition can somewhat be grasped here:
    Sorry this is so long, but it’s worth 20 seconds of scan, to see how many tentacles there are.


    • “In 2014, Governor Cuomo established NY-Sun, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-administered program that seeks to add 3,000 MW of installed solar capacity by 2023. The program works by establishing cash incentives for developers that decline over time as solar installations increase in different parts of the state.”
    • “The PSC hasn’t yet acted on NYSERDA’s petition, which sets forth a roadmap for meeting the state’s 6,000 MW goal by 2025.”
    • “Achieving 70 percent renewable energy in the power sector by 2030 won’t be easy. Currently, New York gets 28 percent of its total electricity from renewable sources, and the vast majority of this (about 80 percent) comes from large legacy hydropower facilities owned and operated by the New York Power Authority. Scaling up renewables to hit 70 percent in 10 years will require a massive amount of new clean generation to come online.”
    • “A half-dozen large solar farms, (this and four following bullets are from this link) including three behemoths that would cover 1,000 acres or more, are planned for the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.”
    • “The behemoths, in Caledonia, Mount Morris and Byron, are far larger than any solar installation that now exists in New York state.”
    • “The state said it would invest $1.5 billion in 20 renewable energy projects, seven of which would be in the Finger Lakes region. The full list consists of 16 solar and four wind projects, including one large wind-turbine development in Orleans County.”
    • “…. it’s not yet clear how well the proposals will be received in the rural areas where they’d be located. In recent years, there has been pushback by local governments and residents when developers looking to build large solar farms have begun eyeing farmland and open space.”
    • “In Byron, Genesee County, where NextEra Energy Resources of Florida wants to build the enormous Excelsior farm, information is sparse and concern plentiful.”
    • “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, joined by Vice President Al Gore, today announced that New York has formally requested an exclusion from the new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.” “Governor Cuomo said. “This is a total disregard for science, reality, and history, and their actions defy everything we know. We believe the future is a clean energy economy and New York is going to lead a counter-movement to what this administration is doing to the environment and illuminate the path forward.”
    • “White Plains, NY: “An old landfill south of downtown will soon transform into a field filled with solar panels as part of the largest municipal renewable energy project in Westchester County.”
    “We’re in a climate crisis, half-measures aren’t gonna get us anywhere,” said Roach.
    “The mayor says the city has cut a deal to put solar panels on eight city-owned garages and other municipal property.” White Plains says there will be a cap on the number of residents who can apply for the 10% community solar discount.”
    • “Nuclear power provides nearly 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 63 percent of its zero-carbon power.”
    • “This year, NYISO announced (from above link) the selection of two transmission projects that will enable the delivery of power from generating facilities in upstate New York, including significant amounts of renewable energy, to downstate population centers like New York City. This was an important milestone, and just the second and third time that so-called “public policy” transmission upgrades have been approved. However, the state will need more such upgrades to handle the coming influx of wind and solar power.” Our Comment: Looks like upstate New York is slated to be the wastebin of eco waste, to supply NYC.
    • “Indian Point nuclear facility currently supplies about 11% of New York’s energy supply. Closing it as Cuomo wishes to do, will only up ramp natural gas, with the inevitable rise in emissions.” “Despite its scary reputation, nuclear power is actually the safest way to produce electricity.”
    • New York is aiming for 9,000 MW of offshore wind by the year 2035. “New York gives green light for two huge offshore wind projects in waters off Long Island” (July 19 2019)
    • Don’t mythologize about the magic of battery storage. “The authors of the 2016 study found steeply diminishing returns when a lot of battery storage is added to the grid. They concluded that coupling battery storage with renewable plants is a “weak substitute” (our emphasis) for large, flexible coal or natural-gas combined-cycle plants, the type that can be tapped at any time, run continuously, and vary output levels to meet shifting demand throughout the day.”

    As one put it: Concern is Plentiful. Thanks again, Michael Spencley.


  11. Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #402 -  

    […] New York’s Cuomo vs. the Grassroots on Wind & Solar […]


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