OSWEGO, NY – A group from New York Power Authority was in the Port City Friday afternoon to provide information regarding the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project.
Representatives from city, county and state government attended the meeting in the Council Chambers. Also in attendance were local residents as well as a handful from other counties.
The group is visiting communities around the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to provide information on the proposal as well as get a feel for the pulse of the communities regarding the project.
“We are going to listen, the same as everybody else and see what happens next,” Oswego Mayor Randy Bateman said.
Sharon Luadisi, government and community affairs specialist for NYPA, provided an overview of the project and what had to be done before it ever gets under way.
“This is an information only presentation,” she said. “This is very early in the process; there is no project.”
Luadisi explained about the benefits of the project including no air pollutants, no waste generation, it would help reduce dependency on fossil fuels and oil imports.
The wind farms would have to be placed where they wouldn’t interfere with things like shipping lanes and migratory bird routes; and the water depth would have to be 150 feet or less, she explained.
However, some in the audience had already made up their minds and wanted to ensure there never was a project.
They claimed the project would mean a loss of jobs, not an increase; birds would be killed by the rotating blades; the wind farms would lower property values; and the aesthetics of the lake would be ruined were among the concerns opponent raised.
NYPA is taking the lead on the project “because we want to get some guidance as to what is really out there,” Luadisi said. “We’d like to see construction start in 2014 in an area of Lake Ontario or Lake Erie – or both.”
“It’s very important that we have community input and support,” agreed NYPA President Richard Kessel. “Not everyone is going to be for it. There are challenges and issues that we have to face. We need to diversify our resources. The country is too dependent on fossil fuels and wind is a key component.”
He maintained that if the project is completed, it will create “thousands of jobs throughout Upstate New York.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are looking at something that is very significant for the whole state,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kessel said.
Ronald Graeff, assistant professor, communications studies, at UNY Oswego, questioned why NYPA wasn’t putting the small turbines which are available on people’s homes instead of targeting big companies.
“It’s not up to the state to install wind turbines on people’s homes. That is up to the people,” Kessel replied.
NYPA will continue seeking public opinion on the project for a few more months.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One of the things we are going to look at is support for the project. If people donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t support it, if enough people are against it, we aren’t going to build it here,” Kessel said. “We’ll take the project and the jobs that are associated with it and do it somewhere else.Ã¢â‚¬Â