Since 2014, Apex Clean Energy has been trying to impose the Lighthouse Wind Project on Somerset and Yates even though local opposition to the project is now at 83% according to the most recent survey. Forty-seven gigantic industrial wind turbines, soaring more than 600 feet into the sky with football-field-sized blades, would kill birds (including endangered species), litter the landscape, destroy the dark night sky with blinking lights, discourage tourism, and be placed so close to residences as to create unbearable and intolerable levels of noise including at night. Our towns would be industrialized landscapes. Even developers admit that the turbines change the character of a town.
Renewable electricity generation is wanted downstate but there is little available transmission to get it there. In Western New York we already have near 90% zero-emissions electricity including local hydroelectric generation.
The Lighthouse Wind project has been sitting dormant for years. It is as if Apex is waiting for some better winds.
The winds shifted towards Apex last spring when Governor Andrew Cuomo slipped the Accelerated Renewables Siting Act into the state budget and it was passed without public input or substantial legislative review in April 2020. Now a project with no local support can be built.
This act eliminated the current approval system and created a new office to rapidly site large scale projects in rural towns with little oversight. Suddenly consultants are drafting regulations and reviewing permits, and evidentiary hearings, which are essential to public oversight, have been made discretionary.
This act made it easier for the state to approve projects over concerns of residents and without a forum for presentation of the data and experts provided by state agencies including the departments of environmental conservation, agriculture and markets and even health.
The Governor’s current budget is about to make things worse. His budget includes language that removes local control over the taxing of these projects and includes a provision to remove large scale renewable projects from review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA)! The Governor’s hastily passed Accelerated Renewables Siting Act does not have sufficient environmental protections to merit removing it from SEQRA.
Please contact Governor Cuomo and demand that he leave local taxing alone, that he keep these projects under SEQRA and, while you are at it, ask him to direct Apex to end the Lighthouse Wind project. Our towns can engage in carbon reductions that make sense for our residents and environment. It's time the will of the people is respected and this project is stopped, for good.
Kate Kremer is the vice president of Save Ontario Shores, Inc.