OSWEGO – A small group of Oswego County representatives recently met with their counterparts in Wyoming County to discuss land-based wind energy. Information from this trip will help guide county leaders should wind power become a consideration in their efforts to help protect the environment and reduce energy costs to taxpayers.
Led by two Oswego County legislators, Amy Tresidder, District 16, and James Karasek, District 22, the group included Paul Forestiere, Oswego County Cornell Cooperative Extension; Jonathan Schell, Oswego County Cornell Cooperative Extension; Carl Salvagin, Oswego County Environmental Management Council; Erica Schreiner Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District; Nancy Weber, Oswego County Farm Bureau; and Karen Noyes and Kelly Jordal, Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.
“We are on a fact-finding mission,” said Legislator Karasek. “We want to get ahead of the curve and uncover the pros and cons of wind power to help us make future decisions.”
Legislator Tresidder added, “We are being proactive so that we will be in a position to help our own residents should a project arise. We will be better prepared to protect ourselves with a good background of information on the subject.”
The group met with A. Doug Berwanger, chairman of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors, Town of Arcade; Joseph Kushner, Town of Eagle; James Brick, Town of Perry; Tom Dixon, Town of Gainesville; Shawn Tiede, Wyoming County Cornell Cooperative Extension; and Joan Petzen, Wyoming County Cornell Cooperative Extension.
The trip was arranged by Paul Forestiere, director of the Oswego County Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“This was a great opportunity for us to meet with a county that has experience in wind energy,” said Forestiere. “Our goal was to gain unbiased information to help us form a better picture of the project so that we can initiate our best management practices.”
The visit included stops at two wind farms and an open conversation with local officials. Discussion items included the decision to take on the project; the implementation process and the impact on the community.
Several years ago, two companies, Noble Environmental Power and Invenergy, approached Wyoming County residents about the installation of wind turbines. The residents then went to their town boards to discuss the proposal. Some of the towns were opposed to the installations while others approved the projects. The towns of Eagle, Sheldon, Weathersfield and Orangeville are now home to the only four windmill farms in the county.
As the towns moved forward, consultants were brought in to evaluate environmental studies and financial reports while legal representatives worked to draft road and licensing agreements and site plans. Others worked with individual residents to develop out their property contracts. These agreements all vary from town to town and from resident to resident.
Wyoming County officials said the turbines are located primarily on poor farm lands where crops will not grow. Occasionally, they are constructed in cornfields or cow pastures. They told the group that neither farmers nor their cows, along with deer and other wildlife, are hampered by the turbines in their daily routines. They also reported that claims of noise pollution are unsupported based on their sound studies.
The impact of the wind farms on the community itself has been largely divided. Job opportunities for residents with these companies are limited as many local people do not have expertise in the field of wind energy.
There are no reports of ill health as a result of living with the turbines. Town officials in Wyoming County have discovered that, when it comes to wind energy, people are either for it or against it.