Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monroe County - Parma, Greece, Rochester, Irondequoit & Webster ATTENTION!
Property owners along Lake Ontario in Monroe County should worry. The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has plans to find a developer who would install a utility scale wind farm 2.3 miles off shore in waters less than 150’ deep. The offshore wind turbines would be 450’ or more tall and initially consist of up to 166 turbines. The potential locations now identified on NYPA maps (see their web site) are offshore from Parma, Greece, Rochester, Irondequoit and Webster. This whole plan is called the GLOW project (Great Lakes Offshore Wind) and is potentially planned for not only Lake Ontario but Lake Erie as well. As of early April 2010 few people in Monroe County along the lakeshore are aware of the GLOW project and how it could impact their property and quality of life. Could anyone be naive enough to think that if one wind farm was developed that there would never be another? The exact locations of the turbines in the lakes are not yet known.
The chief proponent of this project is Richard Kessel (pictured above) – President and CEO of NYPA. Kessel is a spokesman for Gov. Paterson who also heavily supports the GLOW project. The project was launched in April 2009 and mostly kept quiet until Nov. 2009 when details were released at a NYPA meeting in Oswego, NY. Attendees were shocked at what was revealed in Oswego – that gigantic offshore wind turbines would trash Lakes Ontario and Erie. This is not Kessel’s first attempt at forcing this issue upon unsuspecting waterfront property owners – he tried this in his Long Island home area a few years ago as President of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) - the LIPA offshore project was quickly defeated. People were so upset that Gov. Spitzer fired Kessel from his LIPA job. So now we have Governor Paterson with new ideas about renewable energy and how he wants to be seen “green”. So Gov. Paterson, against the advice of many, appointed Kessel as new head of NYPA pushing out the former NYPA President/CEO. Kessel is detested by many – a controversial, aggressive, egotistical man, a master panderer willing to run roughshod to get his way at any cost. To gain a better idea of the character of Kessel – please, please Google Richard Kessel or Richie Kessel (he likes to be called Richie) and read what comes up then decide if this is the type of man you would support running this plan. Kessel has spoken many times recently in upstate New York to business people, higher elected officials, etc. but never to the unwashed town level community. His message is always the same – turbines have 8,000 parts and the GLOW project will bring thousands of jobs to wherever the turbines are located. The jobs will consist of making turbines parts and assembling them and some construction but Kessel dwells on the message of GLOW bringing thousands of jobs - taking advantage of the poor NYS economic situation to advance his cause. Consider him the equal of a snake oil salesman from a century ago trying to sell not a product - but an idea – an idea that will suck taxpayer’s dollars to the tune of $1.5B to help pay for offshore wind turbines that will actually hurt New Yorkers in the long run. Kessel says repeatedly that he will not allow the turbines where they are not wanted (and thus the jobs will not be located where the turbines are not wanted – that’s the catch!). Kessel’s right about jobs being created - except they won’t be in New York or even America – they will be offshore!
Once again both NYPA’s Board Chairman Michael Townsend (of Pittsford, NY) and Kessel kept bringing up the thousands of jobs tease - that jobs would be created only where the project is located. They promised 45 to 80 permanent jobs per AWS Truewind's Bruce Bailey. This is virtually the only possible benefit or plus- the GLOW project could possibly offer. They assured listeners that jobs would be in the manufacture of turbine parts and the assembly of them and certainly some temporary construction jobs would be available but is this worth industrializing the lakes for decades and the harm it creates? But ignore Kessel’s tease of thousands of local jobs making and assembling turbine parts as it will simply not happen because (1) there is NO American manufacturer of offshore turbines (2) no American developer has ever developed project offshore anywhere (3) there has never been a offshore turbine project developed in freshwater anywhere in the world (4) never an offshore project completed in deep water anywhere in the world (5) never an offshore project developed where ice conditions would play an important part as it would in the Great Lakes. AWS Truewind and offshore wind developers are underestimating the power of Lake Ontario. We are convinced that if the project ever gets built the developer would use tested and proven turbine winners made in Europe and that there would be no parts manufactured or assembly of turbines done on US soil. Nobody would risk using a new turbine design under these circumstances with this much money at stake. We predict the developer would also be European and when we asked NYPA's Jill Anderson yesterday how many of the 11 developers that responded to NYPA's intent to bid were non-Americans - she gave us a nebulous answer - that she didn't really know for sure. Jobs are a complete unknown and are NOT part of any NYPA document – there are actually NO guarantees of any jobs whatsoever.
Richie Kessel has said repeatedly that an offshore wind farm won’t be located where its not wanted. Kessel doesn’t stoop low enough to have a dialog with towns. – he deals with the next level above – the legislators. We could be wrong but it seems Richie will accept legislator’s NO messages about the GLOW project. In March 2010 the legislators in Jefferson County voted unanimously to oppose NYPA’s GLOW project. In Oswego County the legislators also voted in March - 20 to 4 opposing the GLOW project. In March 2010 the Wayne County Board of Supervisors voted 15 to 0 opposing the GLOW project. NYPA was invited to attend numerous county or town meetings but declined most of them. No doubt they don’t like being asked questions.
Webster & Irondequoit – This writer notified the town of Webster in mid-December 2009 that the NYPA offshore project was coming down the pike. This message was delivered by phone to a staff lady at the Webster town hall who sounded responsible and articulate and assured us that the message would be delivered to the supervisor and that we wished to discuss this matter with the supervisor. The reason for the call was discussed with her for several minutes and she obviously knew the importance of the call. We never heard from the town of Webster after that. I refuse to believe the Webster staff lady didn’t get the message to town Supervisor Nesbitt. As many lake shore property owners as we can notify – will soon get a poly bag with brief details of the NYPA plan by April 17. All lakeshore Monroe County Legislators (they are Carmen Gumina – Webster; Dan Quatro - Webster, Penfield & Brighton; Vince Esposito – Irondequoit; Richard Yolevich – Ogden, Sweden and Parma; and Rick Antelli – Greece) were emailed asking them to call us about a major problem. Only one legislator actually called (to date) and that was Legislator Carmen Gumina. Legislator Gumina knew nothing of the GLOW project but after 20 minutes on the phone he knew a lot more about this debacle. He was sent additional information via the internet. There are many very pricey beautiful homes along the lake on Lake Road and the value of these properties will plummet if turbines are ever place offshore from Webster. The Irondequoit town supervisor is new to the job and actually returned this writer's phone call within minutes after the message was left on her answering machine. Supervisor D’Aurizio didn’t know a thing about the GLOW project prior to our call. Like Legislator Gumina, she listened intently (maybe in shock) while the major points of the GLOW project were explained to her. And additional GLOW info was also sent to her. At the April 12 NYPA Get Listed presentation at Monroe Community College – during the power point slide show – harbors along the lake were shown but not the Rochester harbor. Harbors are a requirement for turbine storage, repair, staging, assembly, maintenance vessels, etc. One slide showed an aerial photo of Irondequoit Bay bridge with the bay and Lake Ontario in the background. Obviously the message is that NYPA is considering using Irondequoit Bay as a possible harbor and staging area otherwise why would they have included this particular slide in their presentation and omitted the Charlotte harbor area? Well how do you think the Webster and Irondequoit people that invested in the gorgeous town houses, condos, and expensive homes with a view around & above Irondequoit Bay will accept seeing the bay turned into an industrial complex catering to wind turbine operations and maintenance? How will a gigantic ugly jack-up barge fit into the neighborhood scene plus many other GLOW related commercial vessels? The outlet into the lake will need widening & deepening by several times to accommodate all the operations necessary for construction of the wind farm much less O & M work. Can you imagine all the noise created by this nuisance? But NYPA will tell you it creates jobs and that’s good for everybody! Without a doubt the temporary bridge used during winter at the Irondequoit Bay outlet channel will become history, as the channel will be forever open all year. But don’t think that just the waterfront property owners will be jinxed by this horrible GLOW project, as it gets worse. You’ll be paying higher taxes because of it - since grants and seemingly unlimited financial subsides will pay for 60% of the wind farm – probably money going mostly offshore too – to an absentee owner who could care less about the impact of his actions in Irondequoit, NY and Webster, NY. Then when all the folks in their expensive homes line up at the assessor’s office demanding lower assessments because the wind farm 2.3 miles offshore had devalued their properties – and going to court to get lower assessments if necessary – after the assessments are reduced the rest of the town will experience a higher tax rate due to reduced assessments in the town’s most heavily taxed districts – waterfront. And since the wind developer has a power purchase agreement with NYPA – who has agreed to buy all the electricity the wind farm produces (but only for 10 years) – your electric rates will rise since the developer has to make a profit and electric produced by wind is the most expensive other than maybe solar.
We did receive a collective email response from Legislators Quatro, Antelli and Yolevich telling us they would look into the GLOW issue if presented to them. Legislator Esposito did email me but never called to discuss the issue. We need more than this kind of response from the lake shore legislators – we need the legislature to quickly resolve the issue and “nip it in the bud” before wind developers consider locating the offshore wind farm off the Monroe County area and get their foot in the door.
Greece & Parma – When contacted this month by phone, Parma Supervisor Peter McCann’s first words were that Parma didn’t need turbines offshore. Funny how quickly this supervisor understood the problem even though he had not heard of the GLOW project before our call. We hope Supervisor McCann speaks soon with Legislator Yolevich and enlightens him about the GLOW project.
We knew we’d never be allowed to speak with Supervisor Auberger of Greece and we were right. But a call to his office earlier this month was returned by a staffer who knew a very little about the GLOW wind issues. He was briefed and promised he’d speak about this the following day during a scheduled meeting he had planned with Auberger. A follow up call to the staffer’s answering machine the next week was never returned so we don’t have any idea where the Greece supervisor stands on this important issue. But NYPA maps are very clear and show a potential wind farm all the way across Greece and 2.3 miles offshore. Greece Legislator Antelli never did call us but email responded collectively with Majority Leader Quatro and Yolevich. Unfortunately we do not know if they are researching the offshore issues or doing nothing. All of them knew their feelings would soon be made public either way and thus far they have stonewalled us and refused to speak directly with us even though we were probably the first to report this problem to them. This is how government works in Monroe County.
Mayor Robert Duffy and Monroe Co. Exec. Maggie Brooks - Both Mayor Duffy and Monroe Co. Exec Brooks were notified by this writer in late Nov. 2009 of the NYPA GLOW project following the Oswego city hall meeting where GLOW project details were revealed by NYPA staff. Brooks was notified through the county internet site and so was Duffy notified through the city of Rochester web site. Brooks office never responded to this day about our email. Duffy’s office sent an automated reply to us in early December saying that someone would get in touch with us but that never happened. We still have the automated reply in our files & now we are nearly 5 months closer to a “project”. Key NYPA staff met with Maggie Brooks on 4/12/10 in Rochester and we can only guess what went on at that meeting but no doubt Kessel inundated her promising thousands of jobs for Monroe County if the county supports the GLOW project – there is little else promising he could offer.
If you are a lake shore Monroe County property owner reading this article and are concerned about the future of your property please understand this – The Monroe County Legislature can put a stop to NYPA’s GLOW plans by voting NO to this project. YOU MUST CONTACT YOUR COUNTY LEGISLATOR AND ASK HIM/HER TO VOTE NO.
There are many other GLOW, Kessel, NYPA articles on the Beware NY Wind site - have a look. Also - a new Rochester, NY area committee has formed in opposition to offshore wind and the GLOW project. If you are interested in joining them please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Isn't it amazing that NONE of the town web sites have bothered to mention this horrible NYPA plan to their residents as of 4-17-10 - that the town supervisors have all known about this NYPA scheme for at least 2 weeks and word of it is still being kept from their residents. Why haven't they been warned? What the hell are town web sites for? Take off the rose-colored glasses and look at reality. THE ENEMY IS AT THE GATE!