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Majority supports offshore wind power on Lake Ontario

Rochester Business Journal
May 21, 2010

Three-quarters of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll support offshore wind power on Lake Ontario.

The New York Power Authority issued a request for proposals last December to develop an offshore wind farm in Lake Ontario or Lake Erie. The deadline for the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project proposals is June 1.

Among the potential sites identified for the wind farm are areas offshore extending from Greece to the Wayne County town of Ontario and off the eastern half of Wayne County.

The NYPA sees wind energy as "a clean, abundant and renewable source of energy" that offers many environmental and economic benefits, including construction and longer-term jobs. It envisions a utility-scale wind farm with a total capacity of 120 to 500 megawatts, and it plans to purchase the full electricity production under a long-term agreement.

Critics say offshore wind projects are unsightly, harm fish and other wildlife habitats, and bring little benefit to the local economy. Less than a quarter of Snap Poll respondents opposed developing wind power on Lake Ontario.

Of the poll respondents, 70 percent agreed with the Power Authority that offshore wind power development would generate significant local economic benefits.

Roughly 1,080 readers participated in this week's poll, which was conducted May 17 and 18.

Do you support or oppose offshore wind power development on Lake Ontario?
Support strongly: 53%
Support somewhat: 22%
Oppose somewhat: 4%
Oppose strongly: 20%
 
The Power Authority says offshore wind power development would generate significant local economic benefits. Do you agree?
Very much: 33%
Somewhat: 37%
Not very much: 12%
Not at all: 18%

Here are some comments from readers:

This is a no-brainer. Why would anyone be opposed to a safe, environmentally friendly method for generating electricity? Typically, the wind farms are not terribly visually obtrusive, since they're out a ways, and they don't run the “entire” length of the coast, or anything like that. Rochester already has a lot to offer business. Why not make our electricity cheaper, too?
--—Steven L. Smith

As I see it, anything that reduces our dependency on foreign or non-renewable energy is a good thing. I personally don't find them offensive to look at, and wildlife adapts very well to change. Put 'em up!
—David Wagner

This is just one more topic that we simply do not know that much about! Will it make a meaningful difference in our energy dependence on OPEC? How many towers are planned? What does the Power Authority have in mind when they state there are many benefits that accrue to our region?
—J.A. Depaolis

I am for it, but have some concerns. Will the windmills be away from shore enough? Who will pay for damaged and outdated windmills? I insist that this will not become another burden to the taxpayers. How will the electricity be moved to shore?
—Ingo H. Leubner, Crystallization Consulting

I get excited about wind power. I think it has the potential to really help the country's energy needs only if we construct a massive number. One of the problems are the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types, who believe that the bad points exceed the good points. Lake Ontario is a great location for wind turbines. Personally, I enjoy seeing them on the horizon regardless where they are. I've spent some time on wind turbine sites and don't find the noise personally distracting or harmful. They are surprisingly relatively quiet. Visually, they have some appeal to me because they are a symbol of energy independence, which is good for America. I would have no hesitation living adjacent to a wind turbine site.
—John Rynne, president, Rynne, Murphy & Associates, Inc.

Before the Lion of the Senate—Ted Kennedy—died, I supported building wind turbines in the shores off Cape Cod. Since I don't live up by Lake Ontario, I support wind turbines up by Lake Ontario. The Netherlands has made a whole history and tourist industry out of their windmills. As long as the turbines are high enough that they don't interfere with the migrating birds. Tom Golisano even changed his mind on wind turbines, from "No" to "Yes." I just wish he'd change his mind about New York State from "No" to "Yes."
—Clifford Jacobson, WebHomeUSA.com

This has benefited the Europeans for years and it is about time we jumped on this bandwagon. Although the initial cost is high, the rate of return outweighs doing nothing.
—John Kowal

Not sure how to vote on this one because there are so many facts missing. How far off shore? What are the environmental impacts including visual pollution? What regulations are involved? Who gets the power? And at what cost? Need more information. Not totally against wind power, but it has to be done correctly before we jump into it.
—Bob Stein 

The power authority seems to be in bed with a private developer hell-bent on pushing this on the public. My understanding, and I could be wrong, is that the power generated here would be transmitted downstate. We get the eyesore, they get the power. And yes, I do live on the lakeshore and do not want to see these behemoths every time I look out of my window. Also, I wonder who will pay the lost taxes when the property values drop along the lake shore.
—Rick Popovic, WorldWide Medical Solutions

I see nothing unattractive about a wind farm in Lake Ontario. It's makes a lot of sense and it's one of the smartest proposals I've heard in a long time.
—Rick Corey, Penfield

Leave no stone unturned while seeking to use what's available in nature. If cost-effective, wind power in all the Great Lakes should be done. There is valuable energy blowing in the wind!
—Carl Helmers

Windmills are the biggest scam perpetrated on the American public to date. Without government subsidy, they generate ZERO monies. The power generated is inconsistent and unpredictable. Yet we sit as the world’s largest natural gas deposit, which is a huge win for industry and government yet one more time special interest and the DEC won't allow us to tap into it. This state is SCREWED UP.
—Jim Duke

We're at an inflection point in the long history of energy sources, from firewood to coal, then gas and oil, and now a variety of renewables. Each has spawned new industries and further economic growth. Next question.
—Andy Vaughan

I would rather see a field of windmills on our lakes and oceans, then one oil well leaking millions of gallons of crude each day. But then again, you can't exercise your God-given right to drive a gas hog on wind.
—John Esposito, Gleason Corp.

We can't continue to reject oil development, but use the NIMBY approach to wind power. I'd rather see windmills on the lake than the recent news in Louisiana any day. Since Americans generally refuse to reduce their power consumption, alternative methods of generating that power are the only solution.
—Scott Ireland

I see several benefits to developing wind power on Lake Ontario: 1. Help to reinvigorate Rochester's economy. 2. Reinvigorate Rochester's image as a forward-thinking culture 3. Inexpensive power 4. Clean power (Follow the catastrophe occurring in the Gulf of Mexico if you think this is not important). 5. Wind turbines are beautiful, as compared to offshore oil rigs.
—Tony Mazzullo, Veramark Technologies, Inc.

Step No. 1 should be to improve the systems used in transmission of power. At this point they are so inefficient a high percentage of power generated is lost into thin air. That WOULD create significant local economic benefit. Something as specialized as off shore wind would not likely be built by a local company or local labor. Once it was built, it would only be managed/maintained by a relatively small number of people. I love sustainable, but let's work on efficiency first.
—Matt Petrangelo

Seeing wind turbines would make me excited that America is finally moving in a positive energy direction. Wind (and solar) power would offset some of the financial and environmental damage caused by fossil fuel consumption.
—M. Thornton

The biggest winners will be the contracting company and the energy consultants for the project. Look at the Tug Hill Plateau area ( Lowville ). I haven't seen much in significant local economic benefits and they have about 240 turbines. The cost for each turbine is high with maintenance and placing them offshore will only make that expense higher. You are looking at a long time before a return on investment, and does anybody believe that a Power Authority (government) will be the best oversight for the local area, sounds like shades of Port Authority to me.
—Rich Rivera

As CEO of a company that has built several large wind farms, I can assure you that the economic benefits are "huge."
—Victor E. Salerno, O'Connell Electric Co.

What detriment will the vibration of wind machines give? Why not use solar power? We certainly have enough rooftops to work with, and not just desecrate our land and water!
—Sonia C. Lochner, Realtor

I do. But first let's figure out the costs (they will be disproportionately high), the environmental issues (the current Gulf mess makes us want to believe in wind but is it real?) and the "local economic benefits." Most commercial projects don't turn out as well as originally conceived because of inadequate research and analysis up front.
—David Lamb, Rochester

You won't have a disaster in Lake Ontario like down in the Gulf, or other bodies of water due to oil spills. It's a win for everyone. The complaints of seeing the windmills from shore are absurd. Just ask the people on the Gulf! Less dependence on foreign oil is always a good thing.
—Rich Mileo

While the offshore wind power development company says it will create significant local economic benefits, what are the specifics behind this broad, general statement? Does the labor to install them come locally or is it a crew and company from outside the counties bordering the lake? Will maintenance be done by local companies or those from outside the area? Are the windmills and supporting equipment built in this area or even this country? There may be economic benefits for this region but are most of the economic benefits going somewhere else?
—Terry Abbott

I agree ONLY if the Power Authority owns and regulates the production. It should be public power, not a gimmee to private industry, such as the sports stadium fiascoes and the like.
—Art North

There is a lot of unused land space in Montezuma. But the only trouble with placing a wind farm there is one could actually count the number of migrating birds killed, a feat that would be impossible out in the lake.
—Paul Conaway, Lockheed Martin

The NY Power Authority has long drained natural resources from communities, with little local benefit. The Robert Moses Power Project is a perfect example. Don't think they won't do the same with offshore wind.
—Iain Gellatly

I am afraid this is an all-or-nothing proposition based on incomplete research and greed. A balanced project considering all facets of the operation, even if it reduces the efficacy of the project over all, would be the most responsible approach.
—Denise Washburn

This would certainly diminish property values along the lakeshore. One of the lake's true attributes we are privileged to receive in Rochester are its sunsets. The sunsets and shear beauty of the lake would be forever changed.
—Mark Hyde, Leo J. Roth Corp.

Wind power is only economically feasible through huge federal subsidies. We can't afford those subsidies now. As a country we need to get serious about nuclear power. It is less expensive, cleaner and we have the technology to handle the waste concerns. More importantly, it should be handled by the private sector with governmental oversight. The private-sector involvement is what drives the far-left crazy. Our country's energy security shouldn't be held hostage by a small group of people.
—Dave Iadanza, Farmington

The ownership of shoreline property does not convey ownership of the view. The public benefit of wind power far outweighs the notion of a flat, featureless view to gaze upon.
—Ron Johnson

The economic benefits at this point are suspect leading in the development of new sources of power will pay dividends in a shorter term as an attraction to industrial growth. Additionally, nuclear and hydrogen sources need to be in the mix.
—Bob Miglioratti

Concerns about the impact on the environment should be addressed, but as we watch the destruction of the Gulf from the BP debacle, how can we reject the potential wind energy offers? Other nations are working on wind turbine technology with more intensity than we are. We need to pick up the pace or face the economic consequences when we are forced to purchase "off-shore" technology instead of what we could and should manufacture here at home.
—Tom Gillett

This whole wind-power initiative is filled with misinformation about the benefits it will provide. Private investment in these ventures is very limited because of the low returns it provides in the absence of subsidies and incentives, which we all pay for. If it can stand on its own, I am for it, but if it leads to higher prices and my forced subsidizing, I want no part of it!
—Dave Coriale

It is ridiculous to continue to rely on fossil fuels when other options are available to us. The real main objection is that it will "ruin" the vista of some whose home or second home, I might add, is on the lake. I doubt that they will stop looking at the sunset, however they can always sell to those that are not as bothered. The greater good is more important.
—Lucky Nahum, Always Get Lucky Inc.

Adding two to three nuclear plants would generate more clean power, create more jobs and provide many more regional benefits. Wind power is a fad and the visual sacrifices are not trivial. Also, winter servicing of a lake-bed wind farm would be quite hazardous.
—David Lovenheim, managing director, Keystones Global, LLC

Hydroelectric power brought economic growth to our region in the past. Power from the prevailing winds can augment hydroelectric power to help buffer us from inevitable increases in the cost of fossil fuel based electricity. Wind power has one of the quickest economic and ecological paybacks. I strongly support its development.
—Jim Zavislan

Having been in the wind business in the early ‘80s, long before it became popular, I quickly learned the following: "Everybody wants one (windmill), nobody needs one, the people that think they need it can't afford it, and the people that can don't care, and nobody has a good windsite." Without the huge subsidies by the taxpayers no one would invest in a windmill. Most wind farms claim installed capacity but seldom report actual production and profits. We would be much better off investing in nuclear and not destroying offshore beauty for the sake of feel good green energy that is inefficient at best and a waste of our money at worst.
—R.J. Brinkman, retired

Solutions such as offshore wind generation are the future. We need to do whatever we must to shed our dependency on fossil fuels—because there is a limited supply, and the environmental impact of their use and mining becomes ever more dangerous for our future.
—Lee Drake, OS-Cubed, Inc.

I strongly support all ecologically friendly alternative energy programs. Harnessing the constantly renewable wind, waves and sun energy is an everlasting solution that saves the planet, wildlife and human lives. Natural energy releases our dependencies on Middle East oil reserves, and the turmoil it creates in that region and worldwide. Why sacrifice workers on oil rigs that are ticking time bombs that result in widescale pollution when they fail? Why should so many coal miners sacrifice their lives in pursuit of a non-clean energy source? Why risk fully laden oil tankers spilling their loads around the globe? Fossil fuels are not an infinite resource, so why do we continue to pursue these diminishing resources when the sun and wind have the power to provide a solution to "infinity & beyond"?
—Kevin Courteau

Wind towers should not be put in scenic or environmentally sensitive areas. The habit is to place these monstrosities where public opposition (zoning) is the weakest (without any deconstruction contingencies), not necessarily where natural conditions are conducive to wind velocities, etc. Put towers up in urban brownfields, areas like the largely vacant Kodak Park. That area gets "lake breezes." Also implement the modern, less invasive shuttlecock type wind turbines, to reduce visual impact of wind farms. Most of all, if America could get over it's perverse fascination with McMansions and huge SUVs, we'd be further along to the goal of achieving sustainable energy independence than a hodge podge of windtowers could ever provide.
—Eric Huppert

Wind energy is such a scam—it needs federal tax breaks to be economically viable, the cost to consumers will be higher than nuclear, hydro, coal or natural gas generated electricity and duplicate power generation is needed for when the wind does not blow. Plus the costs to build in the lake! Wind generation does not make any sense!
—Bruce Anderson, Alpha & Omega Parable Christian Stores

We have got to stop being so obstinate about alternative energies, because of how they look, or sound, and embrace them as our future! Given the recent oil spill, ugliness abounds in the fossil fuel industry, including unsightly coal mining sites in WV and KY. The economic issues of fossil fuels are well known, and have bitten us soundly since the seventies. Then there is the issue of, sooner or later, running out! All of this not mentioning the environmental issues of fossil-fuel-generated energy. Let's get on with it! There won't be a "wind-spill" issue with offshore wind!
—Hutch Hutchison, In T'Hutch Ltd.

Will the wind towers be spaced far enough apart so that the new fast ferry will be able to navigate around them? Just wondering.
—Dave Strasenburgh

This just seems so obvious right now. If the primary argument against is aesthetics, then we need to seriously re-examine our priorities. The spill in the Gulf is showing us that energy independence is not going to come from more drilling offshore. That leads to a prolonged dependence on a dwindling resource and it exposes us the type of environmental degradation we are now seeing. The oil spill in the Gulf Coast will likely haunt that region for the next decade, costing billions of dollars. No one is worried about a wind-spill on Lake Ontario. In fact, that would only lead to more power being generated.
—Scott Stamper, MPA

We (humans) need to start working on renewable energy today. It is ideas like this that will sustain us over the next 100 years. It is either build up slowly, or get slammed in 45 years. Start now!
—Kenny Harris, EPIC Advisors

I'm not sure about the economic benefit to the local economy. I don't have the data. But, I do feel that we need to aggressively pursue harnessing wind power as one component of a multifaceted approach to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. I also feel that we need to work equally hard on reducing our energy consumption. As far as putting them in Lake Ontario, I say why not. Visual pollution? I find windmills to be less visually unattractive then a lot of things around us like cell towers and strip malls. Harmful to fish? Beneath the surface of the water, they are stationary. I think the fish can avoid them. If we don't put them in Lake Ontario where wind energy is abundant, where do we put them? I understand. None of us want to disrupt the perfection of our scenery outside our window but we also want unlimited energy at low cost to heat and cool our big houses and power our flat-panel TVs and video game consoles. Eventually, something has got to give.
—Tim Willman

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A wind turbine looks better than an oil spill. We can't be so parochial as to hold our future hostage to small thinking.
—Doug Krasucki, R.D. Specialties

I suggest that counties who agree to have green energy production sites located in their area be granted priority use of the power generated.
—Doug Flood

Wind, baby, wind.
—Pete Bonenfant, Fairport

Given the volatility and environmental consequences of the use of fossil fuels, it is in the long-term interest of our community, the country, and the world to quickly implement an energy policy that puts renewable sources at the forefront of the equation. The skilled workforce of Western New York will benefit greatly by designing, constructing and servicing green technologies. This represents a great opportunity to make a win-win decision for all parties.
—Michael Doody, CPA, partner, EFP Rotenberg, LLP

The placement of a maze of 500-foot wind turbines in the major flyway of migratory birds along the eastern end of Lake Ontario is a serious mistake.
—Chuck Montante

We would not need these at all if the fools we have elected would allow for a few new safe clean nuclear plants to be built. Maybe this will be the call to action since the wind turbines are kind of ugly, and most people don't want them where they live. But as long as they are far enough off shore to not negatively impact the view and pleasure boating I'm OK with them. I think they could also put some wind turbines at the airport, too, and any other open "windy" commercial areas.
—George Thomas, Ogden

There are other wind generator designs besides those huge three-bladed ones that may be less disturbing to birds—the ones dubbed "eggbeaters," for instance.
—Margie Campaigne, Project HOUSE/Green Irene

A public meeting is needed with our town and county government representatives where all the facts can be presented and discussed. I live on the lakeshore in Greece and am not sure of the actual facts.
—Ken Harrison

Does this reduce capacity needs for fossil fuel and nuclear facilities? No, Will it be cheaper or the same as fossil fuel? I think not. Will the power be available to all? Will it be directed to municipal utilities that now get bargains so they bear some of the higher costs? Too many questions. No answers. Another government boondoggle? I withhold support.
—Dennis Kiriazides, Xerox, retired

Putting wind farms off the coast of Rochester will hurt the charter fishing boat business as the placement of these massive windmills will make navigating more dangerous for charter boats and recreational boaters. Lake Ontario is a very dangerous body of water without windmills. I believe tourism to Monroe County would suffer because people would seek out other ports on Lake Ontario to fish where there are no windmills, where they could still enjoy the serenity that Lake Ontario has to offers without looking up at these massive wind mills. They would serve no benefit to the fishing as salmon and trout relate water to temperature more and not so much to underwater structure.
—Captain Sam Zucco, Genesee Charters Boat Association Inc.

We can lead, follow or make big mistakes. If all American-based integration, manufacturing and support with a direct impact of generated power guaranteed to benefit upstate citizens first, then lets really discuss. Need to see all infrastructure such as returning lines on lake beds to facilities and what impact that will do to property owners. What navigation rules will apply and rights of way for boaters and fisherman.
—Dave Sluberski

Jobs created are not geared to local unemployed. Jobs will be specialized engineering jobs brought in from other parts of the country or abroad. Local small businesses, beaches, restaurants, campgrounds and marinas will be ill affected by the close proximity of the wind turbines to the shore. Two miles from shore is too close. The lines from one turbine to the other will redirect and harm fish. Our community relies on the fishing and tourist industry. Wind turbines are not made in America. The only people getting rich is the developer.
—Dawn Holynski

I think, as a summer resident on the Eastern “rim” of Lake Ontario, that the biggest drawback to offshore windmill farms for the area is the visual effect on residents, cottage owners, watersports people, etc. The Vesta wind farms up here in Lewis County have had no ill effects on environment or animal life that we are aware of. Not sure how much economic benefit we get locally other than increased income from land-leases, some local jobs and some benefits to businesses locally.
—Alec Wendell

Wind turbines are not reliable energy sources, nor are they efficient. They produce low decimal noise and can create health issues for people living close to them. But most importantly why would we want to ruin the beautiful recreational areas of these lakes.
—Janet Haskins

I personally think wind turbines are beautiful and represent independence and intelligent use of the environment.
—Jim Cavagnaro, CEO, MyWebYellow.com

(c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


What You're Saying 

John Northrup at 10:35:20 AM on 5/22/2010
I am not sure who your "majority" is that supports offshore windfarms, but I would not rush into it. The NYPA promises construction jobs, long-term jobs, tax benefits, increased tourism, increased industry, and other goodies, but none of them have happened elsewhere. Take ...  Read More >
Nae Calby at 8:59:48 AM on 9/2/2010
I invite each of you who are "for this," drive Rte 77 From Exit 48a, South. Once I also thought wind turbines would be smart. After over 150 machines being built, the lovely tea cup hills and skyscape of Wyoming County has been ruined. It is a frightening sight. Reminds ...  Read More >

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