Friday, June 22, 2007

Good News, Bad News

First the good news- the proposed wind farms in the towns of Warren and Stark have received local approval.

The Jordanville Wind Project was granted special use permits by the Warren Town Board on Wednesday. On Thursday night, the Stark Town Board met to discuss the issue.

Stark board members did not return multiple calls for comment Thursday night, but Stark resident Sue Brander, a member of wind turbine opposition group Advocates for Stark, said the board passed the resolutions necessary for the project to move forward.

"Apparently, their minds are made up and they don't want to be confused by the facts," said Brander, who attended the meeting Thursday.

The wind farm project is praised by some who believe it will bring jobs and revenue to the area. But others are concerned about negative visual effects of the turbines, which are more than 250 feet tall at the hub.

Warren Town Supervisor Richard Jack said construction could begin as early as this fall, after the project clears several other government agencies.

The project is being sponsored by Jordanville Wind LLC, which is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, USA. The town's special use permit is a 30-page document of guidelines for construction requirements, including general construction conditions, mitigation for utilities drainage, bird and bath studies and escrow funds that have to be created for mitigation issues, Jack said.

Now the bad news- you're paying for both of these projects. The only way wind farms are even remotely economically viable is through heavy subsidies at the local, state, and federal level. From an environmental viewpoint it's even arguable if they provide a net benefit, since without a breakthrough in technology there's a good chance they'll never generate enough carbon-free power to equal the carbon-heavy energy used to manufacture and emplace them.

Even better, the state has mandated that utilities use a set percentage of the high cost power from "green" generating sources. Since there's no demand for it here in Upstate, want to take a guess at where the power from those windfarms will go and how it will get there?

Hint: There's a reason NYRI's business plan is guaranteed to be profitable.