There is a power struggle taking place in Somerset and Yates regarding those who support the Lighthouse Wind project and the majority who oppose it. It is interesting to watch how Apex reps are doing it using age-old tactics. It seems that they’re taking a few pointers from Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power, a handbook that illustrates how to get and maintain power.
Take Greene’s Rule 12: “Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim. One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will. A timely gift ... a Trojan horse ... .”
Apex has this one down. A free hot dog, a pig roast, a fireworks donation, a new sign, suggestions of lower taxes, or even magically no town taxes at all! Free garbage collection! Apex is aware that they need to divert attention from the destruction of the fabric of these two towns. Will these “Trojan horses” get us to ignore the reasons we want to live here? Is this enough distraction for us to forget our peaceful rural neighborhoods, the abundance of birds and wildlife, our starry night skies, our eagle sightings?
At the Oct. 2 presentation, Apex’s Paul Williamson suggested that this developer would help the towns spend whatever money they receive and develop them into a “high value area to live and work.” Interesting that Apex is using Greene’s Rule 9: “promising nebulous reward.” Have you seen the booming metropolis of Sheldon, N.Y.? Here’s a wind turbine facility about 45 miles south of Yates that Apex loves to use as an example of what wind turbines bring to a town. I’ve been there. Not exactly my idea of a “high value area to live and work.”
I have not been sufficiently distracted by Apex’s promises. I have watched a videotape of a town board meeting in Arkwright, N.Y., where the residents have just now realized that their wind developer lied about the noise, lights and destruction they’d witness from 36 industrial wind turbines. Only two weeks into the operation of the project, residents were up in arms at their town board meeting on Sept. 10, 2018. As they complain to the town officials they are met with the reply, “What do you want us to do about it?” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=b0_HGxX80sU&app=desktop) Their only recourse now that they are living with this, residents say, is to warn other towns about what really happens when industrial turbines are installed. It’s too late for them.
What does Williamson mean by “high value area” anyway? In my mind, we have one very “high value area” in Golden Hill State Park. Nothing shows Apex’s disdain for us more than placing eight turbines across the road from a historic lighthouse. Imagine eager visitors arriving to sleep in their tents and campers. Instead of hearing waves, they are treated to thumps and blinking lights all night. For the next 30 years. Tourist attraction or detraction? “High value” or “devalued”?
How about clean energy? How about renewable energy? Forget the need for construction. Forget the bulldozers and the habitat destruction. We can preserve our rural communities and keep fossil fuels out. We already have it in the hydropower produced in Niagara Falls, the fourth largest hydro-generating plant in the whole United States. In 2017, it contributed 25 percent of the electricity generated in New York state, with a capacity of 2,675 megawatts at a minimum of 85 percent efficiency. Apex’s grand plan is for 197.4 megawatts, operating at best at only 30 percent efficiency. Besides cost in dollars, Apex’s Lighthouse Wind will come at a terrible permanent environmental and human health cost as well.
Apex continues to weasel its way through its misleading materials through the mail. Its postcards attempt to minimize the hideous look of huge industrial wind turbines either by partially concealing them behind bucolic barns, or by attempting to romanticize them. Its Oct. 2 presentation was standard American Wind Energy Association (wind developer lobby group) and wind profiteer handbook material. We heard how they will turn the turbines off, or down, to mitigate bird kill. Can they afford to turn them off at night, as they promise, during the high bird migration months of July and August? Or will they be turned on to produce the summer’s high-need electricity? Which is it?
I know there are some who also possess power. It’s the inner strength to resist the smooth talk and promises. I am referring to the two large landowners in Yates, and those few in Somerset, who did not sign leases. My admiration and appreciation for them is boundless.
I, along with most of the residents of Somerset and Yates and both town boards, respectfully request once again that Apex move on, go home, and leave us to revitalize our towns in a manner consistent with our character. We too have power and we will use that power with honesty and integrity to defeat Apex’s attempt to turn our towns into an industrial wasteland.
Susan E. Dudley resides in Lyndonville.