OSWEGO COUNTY — At its final meeting of the year, Dec. 9, the County Legislature presented and passed a resolution opposing the siting of windmills in Lake Ontario, particularly the eastern shore.
Following is that resolution which lays out the legislature’s objections, concerns, and complaints. The resolution makes both economic and environmental arguments against siting windmills in the lake. Perhaps foremost among its complaints would be that no governmental officials of any of the counties bordering Lake Ontario were consulted on the study. The almost year-long study is due to conclude at the end of this month. Though calls were made to numerous county officials and NYSERDA, the agency overseeing the study, no one was available for comment, quite possibly due to the holidays. Therefore, this article will be followed up for those comments. For now, here is the resolution, which, though it carries no legal weight, does serve to express the legislature’s concern over the possibility of such a development.
December 9, 2021 by Legislator Tim Stahl
RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE NEW YORK ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (NYSERDA) PROPOSAL TO FACILITATE THE SITING OF WIND TOWERS (GREAT LAKES OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT) IN LAKE ONTARIO
WHEREAS, NYSERDA has been directed by the New York State Public Service Commission (Commission) to conduct a study of the feasibility of developing offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes adjacent to New York State; and
WHEREAS, the Commission instructs NYSERDA to conduct a feasibility study of Great Lakes wind energy to consider the environmental, maritime, economic, and social issues as well as market barriers and costs of developing wind in the Great Lakes as an important step toward assessing the overall value and viability of this potential resource; and
WHEREAS, NYSERDA has engaged three contractors to conduct the various analyses comprising the Great Lakes Wind Feasibility Study which began in February 2021 and is expected to be completed by the end of that year; and
WHEREAS, topics covered by the study included a review of environmental conditions, regulatory processes, available technologies, grid interconnectivity, port use and business opportunities, current lake uses, and social impacts among others; and
WHEREAS, to the best of our knowledge no local government officials from any community along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Oswego and perhaps other lakeshore counties, was contacted directly by any of NYSERDA’s contractors and questioned about this initiative and its potential impacts on their communities; and
WHEREAS, NYSERDA’s maps of potential sites for said turbines include significant portions of Oswego County’s scenic and economically and environmentally sensitive Lake Ontario shoreline; and
WHEREAS, public presentations detailing the studies preformed reveal that no significant consideration was given to the impact of these facilities on the tens of thousands of raptors whose annual migration corridor will be littered with these deadly structures; and
WHEREAS, New York State, local communities and small business owners across the entire Lake Ontario shoreline have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and participate in a world-class fishery visited annually by anglers from throughout America and around the world, and
WHEREAS, electromagnetic fields surrounding underwater transmission cables are known to exist and disrupt the migratory habits of various aquatic species, yet presentations by NYSERDA and their consultants also reveal that no effort was made to examine these impacts on King, Atlantic or Coho salmon or any other game fish that are the foundation of the Lake Ontario fishery; and
WHEREAS, said project will have a negative impact on many Oswego County landowners, homeowners, and businesses, including potential effects on real estate values, scenic vistas, quality of life, and the tourism, hospitality and recreation industry; and
WHEREAS, the economies of New York State and Oswego County are heavily reliant upon the Lake Ontario sport fishery and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation estimates the total “economic contribution of all spending for sportfishing” in Oswego County (2017) to be approximately $192,734,697 and supporting nearly 1,000 jobs; and
WHEREAS, the areas in Lake Ontario that are proposed for these turbines are some of the best sportfishing grounds in the lake and it is highly likely that there will be vast restrictions on the use of the waters surrounding the proposed turbines, and
WHEREAS, in the proposed tower areas of Lakes Erie and Ontario numerous submerged cultural resources exist for which New York State is responsible to protect and provide public access under the Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987, and construction of wind towers will likely limit access to these historic resources for research and recreational purposes, and may pose a threat of destruction of these resources, and
WHEREAS, the proposed wind tower construction areas directly abut the Eastern Lake Ontario dune, barrier beach and wetland system, which has been identified as a “unique and irreplaceable” natural coastal area by the New York State Department of State, and designated a “Natural Heritage Area” by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and such construction could have unknown significant negative impacts on the natural process that maintain this rare natural coastal resource; and
WHEREAS, no financial benefit will accrue to any municipality within Oswego County, because the facilities will be exempt from local real property taxes; and
WHEREAS, the project will require the construction of transmission facilities which would result in a negative economic impact on tourism destinations due to the effect on scenic vistas, and depending on their locations, could also negatively affect the farming community; and
WHEREAS, Oswego County does not wish to be the location of experimental off-shore wind tower technology that we believe will have significant negative environmental and economic impacts.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Oswego County Legislature encourages and welcomes job-creating economic development projects, business expansions, and new businesses in the County that are consistent with our communities’ values, enhance quality of life, and present no harm to the unique characteristics of this County that we all cherish, however we feel this project is inconsistent with our community goals and so we strongly oppose the plans by NYSERDA and the Public Service Commission to place wind turbines anywhere in Lake Ontario but in particular in the East Basin of the Lake; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the Legislature shall forward copies of this Resolution to Governor Kathy Hochul, State Senator Patti Ritchie, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, State Senator Pamela Helming, State Senator Samra G. Brouk, State Senator Jeremy A. Cooney, State Senator Robert G. Ortt, Assemblywoman Jennifer Lunsford, Assemblywoman Sarah Clark, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Assemblyman Josh Jensen, Assemblyman Michael Norris, Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, Basil Seggos, Commissioner, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation; Richard L. Kauffman, NYSERDA Chairman, Rory M. Christian Chairman and CEO NYS Public Service Commission, the Chief Elected Officials of any and all Lake Ontario and Lake Erie Counties and NYSAC.