An Appeal The Problem Promises How to Help Wisdom

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The End


The Problem

What's the problem? Well, actually there are many problems, but the big problem is that we human beings are polluting our planet and threatening the future well-being of generations to come.

How are we doing this? Simply put, for a long time we've been exploiting our natural resources and spending them on ourselves as if there's no tomorrow, and now we're beginning to pay the price in the quality of our air, our waterways, and our landscape. Our increasingly overpopulated world is becoming littered with the devices, leftovers, and fumes of an increasingly industrialized consumer society, leaving less and less room for nature to maintain the healthy balance we all need.

One result has been the acid rain that has rendered our Adirondack lakes almost lifeless. Scientists have discovered that sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) are the primary causes of acid rain. In the US, About 2/3 of all SO2 and 1/4 of all NOx comes from electric power generation that relies on burning fossil fuels like coal.

Global Warming

Another result may be the more controversial phenomenon of global warming produced by the so-called "greenhouse effect," which is apparently being augmented in part by the accumulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. While CO2 is naturally occurring, its concentration in our air has been increasing in the past century, possibly from the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas to meet our society's growing transportation, heating, and energy needs. If this warming trend continues, many feel that catastrophic effects on the climate in general may result (the "Inconvenient Truth" being promoted by Al Gore) while others are more skeptical of these dire predictions (for instance, BBC's documentary, "The Great Global Warming Swindle").

To address these concerns and others, our state and federal governments have wisely begun instituting initiatives to protect our environment by fostering conservation methods designed to decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and thereby reduce our toxic emissions.

The Local Economy

In the Town of Cohocton we face other difficulties. For years agriculture and a number of small industries provided adequately for the community, but due to changes in the market these have been in decline, leaving our tax base and economic future in question. Tourism, viticulture, and recreational uses of the land, which have been on the increase throughout the Finger Lakes region reaching even as close as Naples and Italy Valley, have so far had little noticeable effect on the Cohocton area.

A Promising Proposal

Recently an outside player, UPC Wind, has entered this mix of global and local dilemmas with a proposed partial solution, the installation of large industrial wind power plants in the Towns of Cohocton and Prattsburgh which promise to reduce greenhouse gases by replacing fossil fuel generation with clean wind power while providing modest local revenues to help support individual landowners and bolster school and town tax revenues.

On the face of it, this sounds like a "win-win" idea without a downside. However, all of us know instinctively if not by practical experience that very few things fulfill all their promises and nothing in life comes without a cost. That's where the problems with this proposal lie, with its promises and costs. What's being promised, at what price, and who will be paying it? Nothing is really free.

A Serious Problem

One of the major promises put forward by UPC Wind on their website is that "replacing energy produced by the current US average fuel supply with energy of a single 1.5 MW wind turbine annually reduces: CO2 (greenhouse gases) = 6,900,000 lbs, SO2 (acid rain) = 36,800 lbs, NOx (smog) = 22,500 lbs. This is equivalent to burning: 2,000 tons of coal or 6,550 barrels of oil." What a promise! In an ideal world, the simplistic math behind these calculations would hold true: wind turbines up, greenhouse gases down. Unfortunately, the situation is far from simple, and it is highly unlikely that wind power will ever successfully displace greenhouse gas production, as this article by Jon Boone outlines in very clear detail.

The Price We Will Pay

On another downside, there are three major costs - unsightliness, noise, and loss in property value. The first two fall into the category of environmental pollution and primarily have to do with quality of life, while the third has direct implications for the financial well-being of the Town itself as well as individual property owners.

In the Promises section to follow, we will look at each of these costs in more detail. We will also evaluate the claims being made about how much usable power would actually be generated by an onshore wind power plant in our region and what impact, if any, such an installation would have on greenhouse gas production. Our conclusion is that the costs of the proposed project far outweigh any potential benefits, not only to society at large but to the residents and landowners of Cohocton.

Just to get a preliminary view, this graphic illustration depicts the size and loudness of the towers originally selected by UPC Wind and its associates for the neighboring Town of Prattsburgh.* 

The Clipper 2.5 MW units currently being proposed for Cohocton are larger still, each standing 425 feet tall with 315 ft diameter rotors and generating 106 dB of noise per tower, not exactly an encouraging improvement.

A Problematic Process

As if we didn't have enough problems to deal with already, the very way in which UPC Wind and the Towns of Cohocton and Prattsburgh have handled involving the broader community in the decision-making process has been a source of deep concern for many. This topic is addressed more fully in the Process section which follows under the next tab.

Thank you for your interest and involvement!

* Review Comments on Prattsburgh DEIS here.


  wind turbines, wind towers; windfarm information; wind power facts, wind energy faq; wind farm debate; anti-wind, anti-windmill campaign