Local Voices

Selected opinion pieces from residents in the project area. Some were published in multiple news outlets and are only currently available as links from the Orleans Hub.

Buffalo News September 14 2023
Southtowns residents mobilize against proposed wind farm: ‘We all moved to the country to be in the country’
Barbara O’Brien
The Hamels and others in North Collins, Collins, Concord and Eden have mobilized to get the word out before any more property owners sign leases with the company, EDF Renewables. At Collins Wind, EDF wants to erect 30 to 40 wind turbines that are 655 feet high, which include a 390-foot tower with blades that stretch 265 feet from the hub. Residents quickly organized Concerned Citizens of the Collins Wind Project. North Collins has regulations regarding solar and wind projects, and enacted a three-year moratorium last month, but the Office of Renewable Energy Siting can override local regulations. Residents say the small communities are close, but it’s going to create division amongst the citizens of the towns.

Orleans Hub September 6, 2023
Clean energy needs to prove itself before becoming fully embraced
James Hoffman
Many important issues are being ignored as the push to electrify accelerates. An evolutionary approach would allow time to work through some of the serious issues that have developed. In Jefferson County New York, four tractor-trailer size lithium-ion batteries used to store renewable energy caught fire and burned for four days. Residents were advised to shelter in place as toxic gases were being emitted. Letting it burn out was the default firefighting method. This is not acceptable! The mining of the critical materials lithium, nickel and cobalt and the associated activity raise serious pollution issues. Further the disposal of tens of thousands of discarded turbine blades, worn-out solar panels and e-car batteries present a huge disposal issue. Heavy government subsidies are an integral part  of the Clean Energy Revolution causing trillions of dollars in debt. Let us pause to pay attention to the consequences of previous policy actions.

Syracuse.com August 17 2023
NY can’t rely on wind and solar. Our zero-carbon future is nuclear
Gary Abraham, environmental attorney
New York bases its energy policy on the views of major environmental organizations that wind and solar energy can power the economy without any other sources of power. Unlike other forms of energy, wind and solar are intermittent and need inefficient gas plants to back them up. As the penetration of intermittent renewables into the New York grid increases, more and more wind and solar must be curtailed (ordered to stop operating) to avoid damage to transmission lines. Battery technology to store the wasted energy at a utility scale does not exist. Popular “payment-in-lieu-of-taxes” agreements with host towns exempt wind and solar projects from mortgage recording and sales taxes for materials purchased locally. These discounts deprive host communities of millions annually. The projects themselves generate virtually no jobs once in operation. NY requires utilities to purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) from project sponsors. These payments are passed on to ratepayers. They are meant to show compliance with the state’s emissions reduction goals, but very little emissions reduction occurs. Support for a colossally ineffective 100% renewables policy is leading us off a cliff. Let’s use existing and emerging next-generation technology nuclear power to decarbonize New York.

Buffalo News July 26 2023
Another Voice: Wind and solar are not the solutions to climate change
Gary Abraham, environmental attorney
When you consider wind and solar’s inability to deliver energy downstate, where it is needed, their environmental destructiveness makes more large-scale renewables upstate unacceptable. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) recently reported that continued efforts to replace reliable power plants downstate with renewables upstate will likely cause the electric system to fail with increasing regularity. Unlike hydropower, nuclear power and low-emissions natural gas-fired power plants, which operate at 90-99% of their design capacity, wind in New York last year generated at 22% of its capacity, and solar at 14%. Wind and solar cannot power a modern grid unless electricity consumers are willing to go without power at times when demand is greatest.

Orleans Hub March 14 2023
Push to renewable energy sources brings many downsides
James C. Hoffman
Renewable energy programs, Solar and Wind, are absurdly called “ farms” and are having a devastating effect on local communities. Disruption of traditional farming and destruction of farmland forests and wetlands is commonplace and counterproductive. Noise and visual pollution are ever present. Health issues persist. Only a select few benefit at the expense of many. Without heavy subsidies (handouts) renewable Wind and Solar energy programs would not exist. Electric Vehicles are costly, expensive to produce, extremely impractical for average use, suffer for lack of charging stations, are heavier than their Internal Combustion Engine vehicle counterparts and pose a fire threat. Also the electrical grid is experiencing instability as reliable base load power from coal, clean burning natural gas and nuclear sources are shuttered, and solar and wind energy installations are  ramped up. Nuclear energy, clean burning natural gas and  the pursuit of clean coal must all be in our energy mix.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal February 3, 2023
To go ‘green’ successfully, citizens need accurate, unbiased information
Shawn Foti, Niagara County Legislator
Recently the Niagara County Legislature and I sent a letter to Governor Hochul urging her to rethink New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) Scoping Plan in light of the December 2022 blizzard. We believe the storm and its impact on residents (trapped in homes, no electricity) highlighted some major issues with the Scoping Plan to meet the goals of the CLCPA. I have an all-electric home and heat and cool with heat pumps, cook with an electric stove, have an electric hot water heater and electric baseboards in some rooms for supplemental heat. The only reason my family survived 20 hours without power during the blizzard is because we use a small generator to power a pellet stove, for emergencies. Bottom line in regard to “going green” or fossil fuel independent: we need to provide residents with unbiased financial information in order to make smart decisions when they are comfortable and financially able to, and not shut down those who raise issues.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal June 24, 2022
County comments on state climate plan
Benjamin Joe
Niagara County’s formal comment on the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act draft scoping plan finds it would have impacts on daily life in Niagara County that are disproportionate to the effects on other New Yorkers because it’s a largely rural county. Comments hone in on six sectors  transportation, buildings, industry, electricity, agriculture and waste. Rural families need reliable auto transportation, and can’t afford costly heating and cooling upgrades. The plan may impact the county’s ability to conduct and attract industrial activity. The ability for a farmer to farm will be impeded by having a zero-emissions “farm fleet” as well restrictions to herding animals. Also land is being taken out of commission to house solar arrays.

Testimony Virtual Hearing May 11, 2022
SOS Pres. Pam Atwater and VP Kate Kremer testified at a virtual hearing on the Climate Action Council Draft Scoping Plan.

Buffalo News October 29, 2022
Wind turbines are a dangerous idea for Lake Erie
Mark Twichell
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is publishing their 2nd feasibility study on wind energy in Lake Erie. Threats to drinking water quality from wind turbine pollution is growing. Microplastic shedding from turbine blades, known as Leading Edge Erosion, is concerning to manufacturers who are forced to repair the damage after a couple of years. The particles eroded from blades include epoxy which is 40% Bisphenol-A (BPA), a frequently banned endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin. The shedding can contaminate 17 million gallons of drinking water per turbine while also threatening aquatic and terrestrial life. To minimizing the shedding blade coatings with toxic biologically cumulative and nondegradable PFS chemicals are used, that also need replacement. NY State has banned PFAS from food packaging and has set a maximum concentration of PFAS in public drinking water supplies. The last feasibility report acknowledged a century’s industrial toxins sequestered in Lake Erie’s sedimentary bed with no explanations of how turbines can be installed without disrupting the sediments and releasing the toxins into the drinking water of millions.

Orleans Hub October 22, 2022
State needs to reassess climate and energy plans for a sensible future
James C. Hoffman, Town of Somerset
The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals need to be reassessed and are an assault on our communities and our freedoms. It will outlaw or tax out of existence all fossil-fueled vehicles. Electric vehicles are more expensive to build, “dirtier” to construct, and have issues such as range problems, lack of fueling stations, fire safety, battery recycling and disposal, excessive consumption of critical materials such as copper, and huge losses of tax revenue are not being honestly addressed. The public will be forced to electrify homes and forced to give up clean burning natural gas and propane appliances. No clean energy projects should be undertaken without an in depth cost-benefit analysis. The Act denies Home Rule to our communities as the Office of Renewable Energy Siting was given the authority to overrule local law if found to be “unnecessarily burdensome.”

Orleans Hub October 21, 2022
Declining bird populations shouldn’t face added threat of wind turbines in sensitive areas
Celeste Morien, Medina
There is no dispute that we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but without adequate study of the costs to wildlife or consideration for using the least disruptive renewable method to the natural world, actions like rushed installation of wind turbines in sensitive areas becomes our own loss. The loss of birds has much larger ramifications to the whole ecosystem. Wind energy development has a substantial negative impact on birds. Studies and projections show 1.17 million birds are killed by wind turbines in the US each year. The Mid-Atlantic Flyway species migratory pathways move through the range of the proposed 633-foot-tall turbines proposed for Shelby. I ask that residents of Orleans and Genesee counties voice their opinions and reject the proposed Borrego wind turbine installation directly 4 miles north of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

Orleans Hub October 4, 2022
Shelby officials rely too much on developer for data with turbine project
Christine Griffin, Ric and Karen Jones, Brian and Debbie McCarty, Wendi Pencille, Shelby
We ask the Shelby Town Board to issue a year-long minimum moratorium on any Industrial Wind Turbine vote; listen more closely and be transparent with their constituents; conduct a community-wide survey and hold additional and better publicized public hearings. At the Sept. 14 board meeting, approval of the SEQR was on the agenda. A representative from the engineering firm hired by Shelby reviewed the “Full Environmental Assessment Form” and “Evaluation of Project Impacts and Determination of Significance” with town board members. When asked where he got his data, the engineer responded, “Borrego.” Borrego is the same company that proposed the turbines, and they are the ones providing the research to the engineer studying its safety. Borrego is the company that profits from this project. We ask our fellow community members to be present, witness, and speak before and after public meetings and work sessions. Let them know you are watching, listening, and involved.

Orleans Hub September 19, 2022
Proposed turbines in Shelby don’t fit area with many residents, wildlife
Jim Heminway, Medina
Giant wind turbines in Shelby, 633 feet tall, proposed by Borrego Energy would be taller than anything in NYS and only Texas has anything this size and they are not located near a populated area. Impacts: Visual – These industrial giants will intrude on everyday living and stain the quality of life here, for the benefit of one family. Wildlife – A few miles south, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management Areas are part of the Mid-Atlantic flyway, a major migration path for geese, swans, cranes and eagles. These turbines will be responsible for bird kills. Noise – Wind turbines make noise that changes with wind conditions and blade angle. Flicker – Located south of town the turbine blades will cause a flicker at certain times of the year and day.

Orleans Hub July 26, 2022
Make your opinion known on wind turbine project that would change the landscape of Barre
Susan Webster, Barre
After being denied permission to place 6 wind turbines near the wildlife refuge as previously requested, Heritage Wind is now going to submit a 94-C Major Modification Request to the Office of Renewable Energy to place more of their 680-foot giant turbines on the east side of Route 98, bringing a total of 31 turbines placed around the surrounding homes in area, with no regard for the residents who reside near them. How will these enormous turbines be able to keep the decibels of audible noise allowed in check? Who is going to protect the rights of the people here who have put their hearts, souls and future investments in their home properties that will be surrounded by 680-foot wind turbines? Write to the Town of Barre Board, attend the Barre town meetings, write to the Governor Kathy Hochul. Now is the time to stand up for your rights as a resident of Barre and Orleans County.

Orleans Hub June 12, 2022
Wind energy developers try new approach to get large turbines sited without stringent review
Pamela Atwater
New effort by wind developers to propose “community wind” projects consisting of one or two industrial wind turbines approximately 640 foot tall and sited on town or private property. Borrego’s website for the proposed project in Shelby states that “these turbines typically produce no more than 50 decibels of sound that will blend into the background noise.” In many rural areas, the ambient noise level is typically closer to 30 decibels. Setbacks from neighboring property lines will be critical to minimize the impact. These projects will not go through the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES). Your town board will have the ultimate say in what happens. Check with your town to see what ordinances are in place for these types of projects in terms of height of turbines, setbacks and noise levels. And be watchful.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal March 16, 2022
Local voices quashed in utility siting process
Pamela Atwater
There is a narrative being repeated to New Yorkers that the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, ORES, (which replaced Article 10) will take a hard look at renewable energy projects and respond to community concerns. Not so. Intervenor funding available to community groups was cut in half, which as a practical matter eliminates the opportunity to retain the attorneys and experts needed to raise legitimate concerns. The time allotted to hire experts and perform studies has decreased drastically. The review process was inverted to start with a draft siting permit that is presumed to address all issues before any parties have even been given an opportunity to raise their concerns. Hearings are no longer offered as of right, and it is nearly impossible to gain party status in the proceeding. Not even the host town is guaranteed party status, as evidenced by the ORES denial of party status to the Town of Barre in the Heritage Wind proceeding. This deprived the host community of the opportunity to have a hearing on visual impacts, property value impacts, noise impacts, sufficiency of setbacks, visual screening, and the sufficiency of fundamentally flawed studies performed by Apex that appeared designed to obscure the true potential impacts of the project.

Buffalo News February 6, 2022
Another Voice: Looking beyond wind, solar as climate solutions
Sen. George Borrello, represents New York’s 57th Senate District
In the rush to “do something,” government willfully ignores the environmental damage caused by industrial solar and wind installations. The manufacture, installation and maintenance of wind and solar require the carbon technologies they are supposed to replace. Farmland is sacrificed and carbon-sequestering forests are clear-cut for these hideous industrial arrays. We have alternatives that will likely yield better results: Focus on small-scale renewable projects that directly power homes, farms and businesses; Upgrade our electrical grid before bringing on new power generation. Use natural gas electrical plants; Stop importing electricity; Expand safe nuclear power; Approve new pipelines; Expand hydroelectric power. We should look at practical solutions that are right in front of us while also tapping into America’s history of innovation to incentivize new technologies. This will allow us to advance our energy goals without creating new problems in the process.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal January 3, 2022
Local groups oppose ALJs’ wind project decision
Kate Kremer
Apex’s Heritage Wind project in Orleans County is proposed in an environmentally sensitive area. On Dec. 9, 2021, Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) reviewing the proposed Heritage Wind project issued a decision that ignores the massive number of birds migrating through the project area The Office of Renewable Energy Siting can disregard the ALJs’ recommendation and require additional protections for migrating birds. The Heritage Wind project has multiple community and birding groups as well as one federal and two state agencies either opposed to the project or with substantial objections. The substantial impact to migrating birds was stated in an extensive letter by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and testimony by staff at the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. New York’s climate goals require that the build-out of renewable energy be balanced against the need to protect wildlife.


Local Voices from 2021

Orleans Hub October 30, 2021
Difficult to find answers to questions about turbine impact
Dr. George McKenna, Barre
Niagara Power Authority already has plenty of power. To get the wind turbines running, the Niagara Power Authority would need to slow down power production to allow the wind turbines to come online, and the grid would have to cover the power when the wind isn’t turning the turbines. Checked with the National Weather Service to see how turbines would affect the weather predictions in our area. The representative said he was not allowed to talk about it. Contacted the professor at the University of Buffalo, that assisted Barre Town Board, on how to apply the numbers and calculate ice throw distances but received no response. To determine setbacks a Texas A & M professor advised me to look at safety protocols for the turbine manufacturer and repair crews. When reached out to the turbine company that Heritage Wind plans to use with both phone calls and emails, I got no response. The Town Board has totally ignored the fact that no survey of Barre citizens has a majority of its citizens in favor of wind turbines. With little public support, the town board is blatantly disregarding the needs or desires of its citizens. NYSERDA is supposed to invest our money into new ideas for clean energy that are cost effective. Although some will cite tax savings as a benefit of wind turbines, they do not offset the visual impact, and negative health impact to residents, and declining property values. Also, who will pay for inevitable well water damage with all the blasting and construction of these massive towers.

The Post-Journal August 18, 2021
Republicans Call For Renewable Energy Study
John Whittaker
Republicans have introduced a proposal that would require the NYS Public Service Commission and NYSERDA to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis of renewable energy systems and to compare those costs with other ways of producing electricity. They want to know the impact of CLCPA renewable energy target compliance on electricity wholesale prices, delivery rates and total bills that energy consumers in this state will pay, including indirect energy costs. Also, the impact of renewable energy systems on the reliability of the electric system, and on agriculture.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal July 20, 2021
Energy developers now fully in control
Pam Atwater
New ORES regulations cut the funds available to citizen groups in half. Opportunities for early involvement in the application process are gone. And the mandated hearing with opportunity for state agency evidence and experts has been effectively eliminated. The regulations governing the work of ORES were developed by two private companies, Tetra Tech and Arcadis, companies who are also consultants for renewable energy developers. Under the regulations, ORES can override local town laws and has already used that authority. These collective actions by ORES have resulted in a lawsuit brought by 13 petitioners made up of rural municipalities, conservation and community groups, including Save Ontario Shores. Citizens are left outside the process as state agencies, consultants and developers determine their fate.

Orleans Hub May 24, 2021
State, wind energy developer need protections for Barre with many unknowns in ‘experiment’
Andrea Rebeck, Barre
The Town of Barre Heritage Wind project is an experiment: We have a new approval process (Section 94-c); we have a project using larger machines than have ever been used in a densely populated rural part of the United States (680 ft. tall); and the wind resource is far from ideal. If the state is going to use the people of Barre as subjects in this experiment, it should also provide some measure of protection for them. A fund should be established to pay claims from those injured by the project during its construction and after it is operational. The corporations benefiting from the project should finance this fund. Baseline property appraisals and health assessments should be conducted at project approval, and changes monitored throughout the process. The amount of electrical energy both generated and consumed by the project should be monitored and made public regularly, to see if the project lives up to the claims that justified its public support.

Buffalo News April 27, 2021
Letter: Take a deeper dive into solar, wind costs (link to article attached)
Mary Hensen, East Aurora
Wind and sunlight are free, but they have built-in downtimes and their conversion to electricity requires expensive spans of machinery. The petroleum and mining industries have simply expanded into wind turbine, solar panel and battery production, manufactured in other countries where the accompanying environmental destruction is out of our sight. What logic assumes nothing will go wrong with massive generators containing oil and toxic, carcinogenic rare earth elements suspended over the fresh drinking water we share with Canada? Objectors are NIMBY-shamed and criticized for not understanding science. Let’s do some science then, on the existing facilities that we already have, like the Steel Winds turbines in Lackawanna. Give us a complete, independent analysis with costs, components, environmental impacts, subsidies, tax breaks, payouts to their promoters, actual electricity output and times they stand idle under dark or windless skies.

Buffalo News April 15, 2021
Another Voice: Green energy burden imposed on rural New Yorkers
Gary Abraham
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan for large-scale renewables is industrializing rural communities in violation of land use plans focused on preserving rural amenities and wildlife habitat. Only very modest progress can be made in reducing greenhouse gas emissions with large-scale renewables. New York’s electric system is not able to transport electricity generated upstate by renewables to downstate areas. Large-scale renewables produce only 20% to 30% of their rated or design capacity, their ability to displace polluting sources declines over time, they require large areas of land, and they cannot be utilized by the electric grid without backup power from fossil fuels. The state administration is exempting state siting of projects each with thousands of acres, from any environmental impacts review. Should we be degrading the environment for speculative environmental benefits of large-scale renewables?

Orleans Hub April 15, 2021
Ortt, Norris oppose state having taxing authority over renewable energy instead of munies
Press Release, State Sen. Rob Ortt
State Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt today was joined by Assemblymen Angelo Morinello and Mike Norris, Niagara County Legislators John Syracuse and David Godfrey, local town officials, and community groups decrying Gov. Cuomo’s new renewable-energy edict. The new section, 575-B of the “New York State Real Property Tax Law,” will task New York State, not local municipalities, with assessing the taxation of proposed land usage for wind and solar projects, eliminating any negotiations between local governments and renewable energy project developers.

Orleans Hub March 24, 2021
Cuomo pushes again to take home-rule from local municipalities, this time with taxation plans for energy projects
Jim Simon, Supervisor Town of Yates
In 2011, Governor Cuomo began his assault on home rule with the enactment of NYS Article 10 of the Public Service Law. Last year, when faced with continued stiff opposition to Article 10 from rural NY towns statewide, Governor Cuomo went a step farther with last-minute amendment to his budget proposal called Executive Law Section 94-c, which replaces Article 10 and tries to make all local land use restrictions unreasonably burdensome. This year he is proposing, in yet another likely unconstitutional action, elimination of local control of taxation of industrial wind, solar and battery storage projects and a takeover of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes by Albany. This new attack is in the form of adding Section 575-b to the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) as a budget maneuver. I call on the NY State Senate and Assembly to immediately rescind Executive Law 94-c, and to immediately remove the proposal in the 2022 New York State Budget Bill that adds RPTL 575-b. The State’s carbon reduction goals must be met by working with rural municipalities, not by creating renewable developer fiefdoms in small towns.

Lockport Union-Sun and Journal March 16, 2021
Governor Cuomo’s budgets have helped Apex
Kate Kremer, Vice-President Save Ontario Shores
Governor Andrew Cuomo slipped the Accelerated Renewables Siting Act into the state budget and it was passed without public input or substantial legislative review in April 2020. This act created a new office to rapidly site large scale projects in rural towns with little oversight. It made it easier for the state to approve projects over concerns of residents and without a forum for presentation of the data and experts provided by state agencies including the departments of environmental conservation, agriculture and markets and even health. The Governor’s current budget is about to make things worse. It includes language that removes local control over the taxing of these projects and includes a provision to remove large scale renewable projects from review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)! Please contact Governor Cuomo and demand that he leave local taxing alone, that he keep these projects under SEQRA and ask him to direct Apex to end the Lighthouse Wind project. Our towns can engage in carbon reductions that make sense for our residents and environment.

Olean Times Herald March 13, 2021
Guest Comment: Renewable energy vs. the environment
Gary Abraham, environmental attorney
The Article 10 power plant siting law was developed with broad stakeholder input over several years as a way to reasonably approve renewable projects. The unexpected result was that staff with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, who reviewed the projects, were documenting and testifying to the large environmental impacts on wildlife, wetlands, woodlands, farmland and residents. Developers complained to the governor’s office. So in late February 2020 he included in his 30-day budget amendment the Accelerated Renewable Energy Siting law. This law created the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) and a renewable energy czar to replace the Article 10 Siting Board and hearing officers, decreases public involvement, makes project approval automatic if deadlines are not met, strengthens the overriding of town laws, reduces funding for public participation and, most importantly, makes an evidentiary hearing discretionary, leaving no public forum for agency and citizen experts to question and refute developers’ data. There is no evidence that these projects are reducing emissions. The governor’s Accelerated Renewables Act is leading us down an uncertain and costly road, bypassing other ways to reduce emissions that may be much more effective, and much less destructive.

Buffalo News March 11, 2021
State gives renewable energy developers a blank check in site selection
Jeff Dewart, Wright Ellis and Jim Simon, town supervisors for Somerset, Cambria and Yates
A 2020 state law stripped local control from the site selection process, in effect giving renewable energy developers a blank check regarding site location. From Queens to Grand Island, local control has played a role in Amazon’s site selection, but the state has decided that for renewable energy local input is irrelevant. New York State should work with municipalities and developers to create a land use matrix – highlighting the best places for new renewable development and where they are most useful and wanted. Not simply where the developer estimates they will maximize profit. As town leaders, we will continue to use our authority in the best interests of our constituents, not the best interests of subsidized corporate entities.

Lockport Union-Sun and Journal February 5, 2021
Rob Ortt is listening to his constituents
Pam Atwater, President Save Ontario Shores
New York state senator Rob Ortt has been tracking multiple renewable energy projects proposed in his district for several years. He recognizes that these projects are not just about the money; he is knowledgeable about safety issues and environmental concerns. The burden of the state’s plan to increase electrical generation by renewables is disproportionately heaped on rural communities in low-income counties. People who do not live in rural areas can belittle the concerns of residents because they have zero burden from these sprawling industrial projects. By not acknowledging the serious burden on targeted communities and giving them options to find projects that make sense for their local economy and environment, there will continue to be strong resistance. There are now thousands of constituents in the 62nd Senate District living near proposed projects as the state has become more heavy handed in its approach.


Local Voices from 2020

Orleans Hub December 4, 2020
Save Ontario Shores opposes state efforts to speed up large-scale solar, wind energy projects
Press Release, Save Ontario Shores
The president and vice president of Save Ontario Shores (SOS) testified at New York’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting (ORES) virtual public hearing on Monday (Nov. 30), regarding draft regulations that would make it easier to develop large-scale industrial wind and solar projects in New York State. SOS President Pam Atwater quoted Karen Schneller-McDonald of Hickory Creek Consulting LLC, an environmental expert: “The proposed regulations do not reflect an understanding of environmental science and now conventional methods to review and mitigate environmental impacts. This does not serve the best interests of the people of New York State and protection of our water resources.”

​The New York Review of Books December 3, 2020
The Renewable Energy Rebels
Jim Shultz
The transition to sustainable, renewable energy in the US is a matter of planetary survival. But it is not only the energy that needs to be sustainable; the politics of that transition need to be so, as well. I would propose three vital principles. First, as much as possible, large-scale energy production projects like these should be targeted for siting on contaminated brownfields, before agricultural land. Second, the local communities need to be involved as genuine partners and beneficiaries of the wealth these projects create. Lastly, we need to let communities like this decide what scale of power project works for them. A vision imposed from elsewhere is both unfair and will always meet resistance. We need to listen, think more creatively, and chart a path forward we might all walk together.

Buffalo News November 13, 2020
Lake Erie Can’t Afford Ill Effects from Turbines
Rich Davenport, of Tonawanda, Regional Alternate Director for the NYS Conservation Council
New York Independent System Operator real-time energy dashboard shows often wind is contributing less than 1% of the total production in the state. NY is importing energy, from Pennsylvania – from their coal plants, which doesn’t count on our “output portfolio” – smoke and mirrors for “green appearance.” Wind, as a fuel, does not deliver what is demanded by the grid – consistent, reliable, always on electricity. The Great Lakes, especially Lake Erie, are simply too small to sustain industrialization at the expense of the drinking water. The proposed turbines will displace walleye, bass, yellow, perch, emerald shiners, rainbow smelt and others for at least a 3-mile radius from each operational turbine. Do we really want an unreliable electric grid, exponentially higher electric bills and frequent rolling blackouts?

Buffalo News October 30, 2020
Home rule comes under siege in state’s energy siting act
Jeff Dewart, Wright Ellis and Jim Simom, town supervisors for Somerset, Cambria and Yates
The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act paved the way for centralized power for renewable energy siting in New York, shifting approval power away from the local government where the project will be built, giving that power to Albany and the developers, eroding home rule. Rightfully so, we are concerned about the impacts of centralized energy project siting and the erosion of local control over the use of our land.

Buffalo News October 7 2020
Facts don’t support putting wind turbines on our lakes
Steve Royce
Public voices will not be heard under new Office of Renewable Energy Siting. The very point in establishing this new agency was to make sure his renewable policy is advanced despite opposition from the public and affected municipalities. Winter ice represents a major problem in siting turbines in the lakes. Simple concrete slabs would not keep the turbines from being ripped away and would cause disruption to the lake beds. People misunderstanding of the impact of wind turbines in eliminating electrical generation from fossil fuels.

Buffalo News September 28, 2020
Rural communities overrun with large energy projects
Dave Godfrey, John Syracuse Niagara County Legislators
Communities that have risen up against New York State’s effort to override local zoning laws and site these industrial wind and solar projects in their communities are not against renewable energy. They are concerned citizens who disagree with a policy that will see thousands of acres of agriculture land lost forever to these massive projects –most likely in violation of the state’s Constitution, which makes preservation of agriculture land a priority. Their concerns should be given due consideration, not pushed aside by Albany bureaucrats who have no stake in the long-term impacts of these projects.

Buffalo News September 3, 2020
Apex Clean Energy, state must respect towns’ decision
Peg Schwabel
According to reporting by the Syracuse News, “Most wind and hydroelectric power is produced in Northern and Western New York, where the supply of electricity exceeds demand. But two-thirds of all the state’s power is used in the New York City-Long Island region.” Transmission lines between the two areas are already overburdened and budgets of every type are stretched throughout the state. Clean energy is part of Western New York’s heritage. Currently, 21% of all jobs in Western New York are in clean energy. Somerset and Yates have made clear their decision regarding Lighthouse Wind. Both the state and Apex Clean Energy need to respect that decision.

Orleans Hub August 14, 2020
Barre survey shows opposition level consistent with response in Yates, Somerset to wind turbines
Jim Hoffman
The results of a recent survey of Barre households relating to Heritage Wind conducted by George McKenna are very revealing. They track very closely to those of three similar surveys relating to Apex Project Light House Wind. The independent surveys done by the Townships of Somerset, Yates and Save Ontario Shores (SOS). All show a significant response from the public (35-40%) and a grass roots opposition to the siting of industrial wind turbines of more than two to one (2:1).

Orleans Hub July 28, 2020
Governor can best meet energy goals with nuclear plants sited downstate
John Riggi
The Governor is interested in siting offshore wind turbines within 2 miles of the southern shore of Lake Ontario. The myriad and significant issues that would arise from an ill-advised initiative such as this one would include: Contaminated water supply as a result of toxin release from lake bed, disturbances during construction and wind turbine nacelle leaks after construction, Shipping lane restrictions, Migratory bird flyway disruptions, Significant disruption of lake sport-fishing, Significant disruption to pleasure boating activities, Significant night time light pollution from aircraft navigation lighting installed on turbines.
Much more appropriate options for clean energy production are hydro and nuclear. In fact, nuclear plants can be very easily placed Downstate where the energy is needed without destroying prime agricultural land upstate.

Buffalo News July 24, 2020
Rural New Yorkers again at the mercy of Albany bureaucrats
Jeff Dewart, Wright Ellis & Jim Simon, town supervisors for the towns of Somerset, Cambria and Yates.
Due to a new fast-tracked law called Section 94c, local governments in upstate and rural New York are now at the mercy of a new state agency, controlled by the governor, to decide which industrial wind and solar projects will be sited in their municipalities. Local laws to protect public health, environment, property values, recreation and tourism, etc., are swept aside in favor of the governor’s agenda.

Albany Times Union June 26, 2020
Rural New York pays price as NYC benefits
Pam Atwater
Cuomo forcing upstate, with its 90 percent zero emissions electricity, to shoulder the burden of producing and transmitting energy downstate. Every tree that is cut down, every property that is devalued, every bird that is killed as a result of these projects is for the benefit of his hometown. Every rural community torn apart by this controversy will suffer . How much will the transmission infrastructure cost? Will eminent domain be utilized? Why is there no incentive to build close to the energy need to increase efficiency and decrease cost? Rural New York will once again pay the price to benefit New York City.

Orleans Hub April 23, 2020
State Legislators Seek Delay in New State Law for Siting Renewable Energy Projects
Tom Rivers, Editor
Several legislators on April 20 sent a letter to Secretary of State Rossana Rosado asking for a postponement of hearing dates for the development of new energy initiatives as part of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act. The pandemic makes public gatherings for hearings impossible, while patchy internet service limits many rural residents if hearings on-line.

The Altamont Enterprise March 26, 2020
Reducing consumption may be the only effective way to reduce carbon emissions
Gary Abraham, WNY environmental attorney
Reducing consumption rather than any technological fix may be the only effective way to reduce carbon emissions. Coronavirus has resulted in the first reversal since World War II of the growth in oil consumption. No amount of renewable energy around the world has done that. As we take time to reconsider our priorities, wind energy should be on the list.

Orleans Hub March 14, 2020
Cuomo’s Plan to Fast Track Siting Takes Away Local Control
John Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates
Governor Cuomo proposed the most significant and dangerous overhaul of renewable energy project permitting/siting since the enactment of Public Service Law Article 10. It was later passed as part of the state budget as is now known as Article 94C.

Lockport Union-Sun and Journal March 12, 2020
State and Local Officials Prepare for Change in Siting Law
Benjamin Joe
State and local area officials argue for inclusion in the process of siting industrial energy in the area.

Orleans Hub March 9, 2020
Minority of Rural Residents Forced to Bear Impact of State’s Extreme Energy Goals
James Hoffman, Somerset Resident
Industrial Wind and Solar Installations will not supply the cheap abundant, reliable energy our modern society needs to function. Industrial Wind and Solar are space-hungry, require huge subsidies, are expensive, are environmentally damaging and threaten the health and well-being of those who are forced to live among them. Our energy policies need serious redirection.

Buffalo News March 2, 2020
Cuomo’s Power Grab on Energy Steamrolls Local Communities
Kate Kremer, SOS Vice President and Resident of Yates
Changes from Article 10 to Article 23 leave fewer options for rural communities to have a say in industrial developments. “Governor Cuomo and the urban environmentalists egging him on appear to believe upstate is vacant land, peopled by selfish unintelligent residents. This was their approach to siting landfills in the 1980s and it’s what they are planning with industrial wind and solar projects now. They don’t care that rural towns and villages do not want massive industrial projects blighting their communities. The state plans to crush all opposition. That is the purpose of the governor’s recent amendments to the state budget. Big project developers and “do anything” green ideologists were not getting the results they wanted so the governor is throwing out the state siting law (PSL Article 10) and creating one that meets the demands of developers, including cutting town boards and rural citizens out of the process.” (Buffalo News articles are available by subscription only or by signing up for an account)

Orleans Hub February 27, 2020
Yates, Somerset officials oppose new Cuomo push for reviewing renewable energy projects
Jim Simon,Yates Town Supervisor and Jeff Dewart, Somerset Town Supervisor
The Town of Somerset (Niagara County) and the Town of Yates (Orleans County) are adamantly opposed to Governor Cuomo’s attempt – under the guise of a last-minute amendment to the state budget process referred to as Article 23 – to accelerate renewable energy development at the expense of our towns, our citizens and our environment.

Lockport Union-Sun and Journal Op Ed February 26, 2020
Our View: Home Rule Must Prevail in Utility Sitings
Members of the Niagara County Legislature agreed last week to set a public hearing on a proposed law that would prevent companies looking to invest in renewable energy projects from obtaining local tax breaks before moving forward; and to form a committee to monitor the state’s approval process for such projects, which involves the potential for a state siting board to overturn local zoning laws that restrict or bar the projects.

Orleans Hub January 20, 2020
Yates Town Councilman Urges Apex to Formally End Turbine Project
John Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates
Our towns were, are and will continue to remain fully and fervently opposed to Apex’s imposition on our communities. Clearly, given the strength of local laws and our “no Payment in Lieu of Taxes” (PILOT) resolution, the company is hoping that the State will allow waiving of local laws and regulations, as well as local constituent protections. Due to our successful opposition, Apex informed their leaseholders in early 2019 that an Article 10 application would not be filed in 2019. Apex, six years is enough. Time for you to pull the plug on Lighthouse Wind.

Local Voices from 2019

Buffalo News December 28, 2019
Rural Residents Need to be Heard in Green Energy Debate
Pamela Atwater, President, Save Ontario Shores
What kind of renewable energy solutions will New York State invest in? Big wind and solar corporations would like us to believe the answer lies primarily with their sprawling renewable projects in upstate New York. Rural opposition speaks of the heavy burden these projects place on small towns and the environment. Upstate New York electricity is already 90% zero-emissions, including hydroelectric and nuclear sources.

Lockport Union Sun and Journal October 1, 2019
Wind is a Bad Buy for the Energy Hungry
Steve Royce, Appleton
Demand for electricity during the summer months can be as much as twice the demand during the spring and fall. So, how did New York state’s wind turbines do during the past summer? There were 94 days during the summer season. On 41 of those days, the 1,987 MW of installed wind capacity generated a daily average of less than 200 MW. There were only 17 days during which the average daily output exceeded 500 MW, or 25 percent of installed capacity, and only three days that output exceeded 40 percent of installed capacity.

Orleans Hub October 3, 2019
Barre won’t get full financial benefit advertised by Heritage Wind with turbine project
Elizabeth Wolanyk, Barker
The term PILOT is Payment in Lieu of Taxes. PILOT payments generally pay only 25 percent of the value of a project. In the 2018 Orleans County Economic Development Agency’s IDA report of PILOT payments, the schools received almost half of the PILOT monies (48%), the county received almost a quarter of the PILOT monies (23%), towns received just less than 10 percent of PILOT payments and villages were paid almost a fifth of the PILOT monies (19%). So, the town gets the last and smallest share of a PILOT payment.

Lockport Union Sun & Journal July 31, 2019
Somerset deserves support of downstate environmentalists
Jim Shultz, Founder and executive director of the Democracy Center and Lockport resident
What environmental groups could do is this. They could make it their mission to assure that communities like Somerset don’t end up losers in the transition to clean energy, but instead serious winners. And this does not mean fake solutions like converting a rural community into a massive wind farm for downstate, surrounded by rotor towers taller than the Washington Monument. It means real help. They have a company ready to convert the coal plant into a high-tech data processing center. To make that happen, Somerset and its neighbors say they need support from the state.

Lockport Union Sun & Journal July 5, 2019
Protection of Open Spaces is an Environmental Necessity
Jim Hoffman, Town of Somerset
Those who reside in the rural and semi-rural parts of New York state do not want to see the industrialization of our countryside and the associated physical and environmental damage that will occur if industrial wind turbines are permitted. Local laws, comprehensive plans and policies in place should govern, and they should not be usurped by the state.

Buffalo News: Another Voice June 30, 2019
Conflicts Entangle the State Energy Authority
Jim Simon, Supervisor, Town of Yates
The Yates Town Supervisor questions the relationship between the Article 10 Siting Board and its members actively promoting a wind turbine project that has not yet been approved.

Lockport Union Sun and Journal May 21 2019
New York owes its ‘Coal’ Communities
Daniel Engert, Supervisor, Town of Somerset
With the ban of coal-fired generation in New York state, the coal plants owner (Beowulf Energy) has proposed to re-purpose these sites as data centers powered by renewable energy. Unlike the overwhelmingly opposed Lighthouse Wind proposal by Apex Clean Energy, this is precisely the type of development that Somerset envisioned in our comprehensive plan and zoning. However, they need assistance from the state to bring the project together.

Lockport Union Sun and Journal April 29, 2019
Apex, say goodbye to ‘Lighthouse Wind’
John Riggi, Yates town council member
Apex Clean Energy needs to own up to the fact that they chose a poor project site. They now need to take the bitter pill and tell the public what they’ve told their leaseholders in private: The Lighthouse Wind Project will not move forward.

Albany Times-Union April 1, 2019 February 28, 2019
Rural communities must have a voice in energy planning
James Simon, Supervisor Town of Yates and Daniel Engert, Supervisor Town of Somerset
Our rural communities have duly enacted local laws designed to preserve the rural characteristics our constituents value most.

Buffalo News March 22, 2019
Stop pushing wind turbines in rural, peaceful Somerset
Christine Bronson, Councilwoman, Town of Somerset
Industrial wind turbines should not be placed in a rural setting such as Somerset.

Lockport Union Sun and Journal February 28, 2019
Similarities of Galloo Island, Lighthouse Wind are Striking
Kate Kremer, Yates
What does the withdrawal of the Apex’s Galloo Island industrial wind project have to say about their project proposed in Somerset and Yates? Both are proposed along the shores of Lake Ontario in a migratory bird and raptor flyway.

Buffalo News: Another Voice February 21, 2019
Wind Factories Threaten Our Health and Well-being
Mary Kay Barton, Wyoming County
The ongoing push by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and his pals in the wind industry to cover rural New York State with industrial wind factories is a needless attack on our natural environment, and the health, safety and welfare of citizens and targeted communities.

Buffalo News February 5, 2019
Sierra Club has Strayed
Bob LaPorte
Maybe the Sierra Club’s new slogan should be: “It became necessary to annihilate western New York’s avian population in order to save them.”

Lockport Sun Union Journal: Opinion February 2, 2019
Apex, the Emperor Unclothed
Christine Bronson
It defies common sense. There is no study that can convince me that any normal human being would actually gravitate to a community where homes are dwarfed by giant 591-foot industrial wind turbines.

Buffalo News: Another Voice January 17, 2019
Sierra Club Disputed on Wind Power
Sherri Lange, CEO, North American Platform Against Wind Power
The U.S. does not garner 30 percent of its power from industrial wind. The real number is around 4 percent.

Orleans Hub January 5, 2019
Comments on DPS site continue to show opposition to Lighthouse Wind
Steve Royce, Appleton
Since the inception of tracking the public comments, 339 comments, or 21 percent are in favor of the project, 1,260 comments, 79 percent, are opposed.


Local Voices from 2018

Buffalo News December 30, 2018
Another Voice: Sierra Club endorsement of Somerset wind project is suspect
Daniel M. Engert, Town Supervisor, Somerset
The Sierra Club’s response did not include a shred of information or even one study that related to or even referenced the Lighthouse Wind project. The materials the Sierra Club reviewed to form its conclusion that the Lighthouse Wind project is “environmentally sound” dated back to 2005.
Clearly, if the Sierra Club did not review any detailed information specific to the Lighthouse Wind project and did not review studies and findings related to the project, then the Sierra Club has no basis to offer opinions about the environmental impacts.

Orleans Hub December 6, 2018
Apex needs oversight for proposed turbines in sensitive area near Lake Ontario
Kate Kremer, Yates
On October 26, administrative law judges for the Department of Public Service (DPS) ruled that Apex should not have withheld information about an eagle’s nest in the Galloo project area. Administrative Law Judge Michael Caruso stated that this withholding of relevant information “raises serious questions about the applicant’s character and fitness.”

Orleans Hub November 29, 2018
Sierra Club should push for hydro power, not industrial wind turbines
James C. Hoffman, Somerset
The Niagara hydroelectric power plant is under-utilized. An examination of the record reveals this. With a source of clean renewable power at our door step, why is Lighthouse Wind and other industrial wind turbine projects even being considered?
It seems as though the Sierra Club with its historically deep involvement in environmental issues would be aware of this underutilization of a clean renewable power source and promote its full use. Sadly, the Sierra Club has aligned with Big Wind and Big Government, a convenient alignment that will assure them of financial and political support in the future.

Buffalo News November 20, 2018
Lighthouse Wind Not Clean, Not Wanted
James C. Hoffman, Somerset

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal November 9, 2018
Apex Forum Was a Whitewash Job
James C. Hoffman, Somerset

Orleans Hub October 30, 2018
Too Many Negatives for Lighthouse Wind to Move Forward
James C. Hoffman, Somerset

Orleans Hub October 26, 2018
Yates Making Progress on Many Issues While Also Fighting Turbine Project
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub October 24, 2018
SOS is Committed to Stopping Turbine Project in Yates and Somerset
Pam Atwater, President, Save Ontario Shores

Orleans Hub October 12, 2018
Yates, Somerset to Stay on Guard from Wind Developer’s Promises
Susan E. Dudley, Lyndonville

Orleans Hub October 7, 2018
Yates Councilman Says Apex Should Leave and Let Community Heal
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub October 4, 2018
News Article from Apex Meeting Warrants Some Clarifications
Steve Royce, Appleton

Orleans Hub October 1, 2018
Apex Specializes in Misinformation
Christine Bronson, Councilwoman, Town of Somerset

Orleans Hub September 27, 2018
Apex Event for Lighthouse Wind Will be More of a Lecture than a Forum
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub September 17, 2018
Yates Official Questions Accuracy of Apex Mailer About Wind Turbine Impact on Birds
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub August 15, 2018
Apex Continues to Speak in Generalities and Platitudes About Proposed Project in Yates and SomersetJohn B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub August 12, 2018
Apex Should Provide Specifics about Misinformation as Yates and Somerset Try to Stop Project
Steve and Maryellen Royce, Richard and Cynthia Hellert, Robert and Agnes LaPorte, Paula Simon, David and Anne Smith, Susan Dudley, Ruth Doughty, Robert Verheyn, Christine Bronson, Kathy Evans, Donn Riggi

Orleans Hub August 2, 2018
Councilman Says Many Negatives for Community with Wind Turbine Project
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub July 27, 2018
Niagara River’s Hydroelectric Power is Most Reliable Unsubsidized Source of Renewable Power
Gregory G. Woodrich, Williamsville

Orleans Hub July 26, 2018
Somerset and Yates Residents Don’t Want to Sacrifice Quality of Life for Money from Wind Turbines
Christine Bronson, Councilwoman, Town of Somerset

Orleans Hub July 8, 2018
Vast Majority of Public Comments Continue to Show Opposition to Lighthouse Wind
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub June 25, 2018
Somerset and Yates Stay Committed in Opposition to Lighthouse Wind
James C. Hoffman, Somerset

Orleans Hub June 22, 2018
Save Ontario Shores, Which Formed 3 ½ Years Ago, Grateful for Many Who Oppose Turbine Project
Pam Atwater, President, Save Ontario Shores

Orleans Hub April 21, 2018
Yates Resident Should be Outraged at Apex, Not Town Board for Legal Costs
James Bansbach, Yates

Orleans Hub April 10, 2018
Latest Quarter Shows More Opposition Comments for Lighthouse Wind
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub March 16, 2018
Many Unknowns with Lighthouse Wind Should Stop Project from Going Forward
Ray Watt, Yates

Orleans Hub February 20, 2018
Turbine Construction and Maintenance Have Negative Impacts on Environment
Betty Wolanyk, Somerset

Orleans Hub February 12, 2018
Turbines in Yates and Somerset Would be Environmental Injustice
Donn Riggi, Yates

Orleans Hub February 6, 2018
State and Apex Should Respect Local Laws About Wind Turbines Seeking to Maintain Quiet Rural Community
James C. Hoffman, Somerset

Orleans Hub January 20, 2018
Yates Town Supervisor Says He’s Heartened by Siting Board Decision to Respect Local Wind Energy Ordinances
James Simon, Supervisor, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub January 15, 2018
Apex Has Shown Lack of Follow Through with Public Outreach
Christine Bronson, Councilwoman, Town of Somerset

Orleans Hub January 15, 2018
Commenters on DPS Website Show Opposition to Lighthouse Wind
John B. Riggi, Councilman, Town of Yates

Orleans Hub January 11, 2018
Leaseholders for Turbines Should Consider Impact on Neighbors
Steve Royce, Appleton

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