Cohocton Wind Watch
Cohocton Wind Watch is a community citizen organization dedicated to preserve the public safety, property values, economic viability, environmental integrity and quality of life in Cohocton, NY and in surrounding townships. Neighbors committed to public service in order to achieve a reasonable vision for a Finger Lakes region worthy of future generations.

READ about the FIRST WIND Connection to the Obama Administration

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap and Trade Fraud


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Allegany wind project officially dead

Close to eight years of legal battles, community upsets and neighbors bickering with neighbors over a proposed 29-turbine wind project in the town of Allegany came to an end Tuesday.
The final nail in the coffin of the proposed EverPower Wind LLC project in the Chipmonk and Knapp Creek areas was hammered when the Allegany Town Board unanimously voted to rescind the wind overlay district.
“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m glad this is over,” said Chipmonk resident Karen Mosman after the meeting. “But I’m in shock — is it real?”
The vote came at the beginning of Tuesday’s regular meeting in the Allegany Senior Center on Birch Run Road. The room was three-quarters full of residents who sat quietly as Town Supervisor John Hare read through a 25-page State Environmental Quality Review form and zoning map amendment to rescind the wind overlay district. The form listed a number of issues that will not be affected by rescinding the overlay district, such as geological features, air, plants and animals, agricultural resources, aesthetic resources, transportation, energy and human health. The board agreed with each of the 13 issues reviewed before voting unanimously on a “negative declaration regarding the removal of the wind overlay district.”
The action brought applause from the audience.
The board then voted unanimously on another motion to adopt an ordinance that rescinds the wind overlay district created by town board members on Aug. 29, 2011, which brought another round of applause.
When an older member of the audience asked Mr. Hare to explain exactly what had transpired the town supervisor replied, “Basically by the two actions we took tonight, this rolls back or eliminates the overlay district created approximately three years ago.”
“Thank you very much,” responded a woman in the audience before everyone got up to leave.
The board was asked to decide on the matter in June after the Allegany Town Planning Board recommended that the wind energy overlay district be rescinded. Their recommendation came three months after the New York State Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by EverPower against the planning board.
Following the dismissal, EverPower relinquished its rights to build a wind farm in the town of Allegany. The company had planned to build the $160 million wind farm after it was given the go-ahead for the project by the previous town board. The project fell through after three years of legal struggles with the town and Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County.
Residents who included Kathy Boser, president of Concerned Citizens, wanted to see the overlay district rescinded because the planning board had indicated that another developer could potentially step in and use the zoned parcel for a new wind-turbine project.
Following the meeting, Mrs. Boser said she and others in the community were grateful for the actions of the town and planning boards.
“Now that it’s rescinded, any (wind company) could come back in, but they’d have to start over again,” she said. “I think there were some lessons learned from this one and I think the boards will be better prepared.”
Concerned Citizens member Gary Abraham agreed with this thought and declared, “It’s over for any (proposed) wind farm in Allegany.”
Allegany resident and businessman Dennis Casey said he was “thrilled” with the outcome.
“We’ve had time to anticipate this,” he said in commenting on the relatively quiet response from the audience during the vote.
Others who commented included Mrs. Mosman’s husband, Ray, who said he hopes the action will help the community heal.

“I think this is done; it’s been a long haul and a heck of a burden off our shoulders,” Mr. Mosman said. “But I think now is a time of healing, because this made enemies out of friends.”

Thursday, September 04, 2014


September 4, 2014
STEUBEN COUNTY, NY - Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has announced the arrest of Cohocton Town Clerk Sandra Riley.
Riley was charged with grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony, and official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, after an audit and investigation by DiNapoli’s office uncovered the misappropriation of more than $36,000 in public funds.
Officials with the State Comptroller’s Office says that Sandra Riley has already admitted to the grand larceny.  “Riley confessed to DiNapoli’s staff and the New York State Police that she pocketed tax penalty payments, as well as cash for building permits and dog licenses, over a six-year period,” Dinapoli’s office stated.
Riley was arraigned in Village of Bath court and is due back on September 15.
“This is another troubling case of a local official abusing her position to steal taxpayer money,” said DiNapoli. “We will continue to work to expose public corruption and partner with law enforcement to bring offenders to justice and recoup stolen public money. I want to thank Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker and the New York State Police for their continued partnership with my staff to make sure these types of individuals are held accountable for their actions.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Big Wind’s Last Gasp?

Wind energy development in the United States has slumped.
Despite record installations in 2012, and eking out a 1-year, $12 billion extension of the wind production tax credit (PTC), new wind capacity last year fell to just 1,087 megawatts, a level not seen in more than a decade. Development in 2014 is showing signs of improvement but the year may not fare much better.
The industry blames Congress and the uncertainty surrounding the PTC for the slowdown, but such thinking is overly simplistic and ignores the fundamental challenges facing big wind. This slump, like others that plagued wind development in prior years, can be traced directly to generous government assistance, current energy prices, and the inherent limitations of wind power.

Reasons for the slowdown
The Section 1603 cash grants enacted under ARRA fueled a wind bubble as developers raced to build and qualify their sites. By the end of 2012, the industry’s project pipeline was exhausted with just 43 MW of wind under development in two states. The surge in new capacity created a glut in RPS-qualified generation and eroded demand for wind as states met and/or exceeded their renewable mandates. The shale gas boom further hampered growth by driving down energy prices and harming wind’s economic competitiveness against cheaper, more reliable fuels.
Proponents insist wind energy is a few short years away from thriving without government assistance, but the trends do not support the claim.
For wind to go it alone, average wind capacity factors need to increase dramatically and/or project construction costs must drop dramatically. But that’s not happening according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Technologies Market Report 2013, just released.
The authors, Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), report that average capacity factors for projects built after 2005 have been stagnant despite advances in turbine technology. The interior region of the country covering Texas and the plains states continues to show the best capacity factors (36-38%) and lowest project costs ($/kw) but it’s also the most remote. A smaller population means miles of expensive new transmission is needed to transport the energy to higher demand centers east and west.
Turbine prices and project costs may have declined somewhat from 2012, but with only 11 projects in LBNL’s 2013 sample, drawing a firm conclusion about construction costs is premature. The same applies for average wind pricing. According to the report, the national average price for wind dropped to a surprising $25/MWh in 2013, but again, the small sample of power purchase agreements examined was skewed by projects sited in the lowest-priced interior region of the country.
We agree that wind PPAs from 2012-13 have seen some decline in prices but nowhere near $25/MWh in most areas of the country and not for the reasons cited. Wind power is not more competitive. Rather, its pricing in the U.S. is under severe pressure because of the shale gas boom and the accumulation of new wind capacity concentrated in just twelve states, which has lowered demand.
Also, by constructing tens of thousands of megawatts of generation that produces largely off peak, wind developers actually hurt their own energy sales by driving down wholesale prices, which makes the PTC even more critical.

Subsidizing Big Wind
The PTC offsets the high price of wind energy, giving the false impression that wind is competitive with other resources, but at 2.3¢/kWh, the subsidy’s pre-tax value (3.5¢/kWh) equals, or exceeds the wholesale price of power in much of the country! The tax credit provides a significant out-of-market revenue source for developers by shifting costs to taxpayers at large. At current energy prices, we’re not convinced wind power can demonstrate sustained growth without the PTC, and this is confirmed in EIA’s latest Annual Energy Outlook 2014.
According to EIA, if the expired PTC is allowed to stay expired, their models show an expected stair-step increase in wind capacity by 2015 that flattens out for the next decade until gas prices rise and technology improvements make wind more competitive (see chart). If the PTC and the 30% ITC were made permanent EIA shows it would drive more renewables, particularly wind and solar, but at a significant cost: $4.5 billion/year from 2014 to 2040.

So what’s next
Big wind grew up on the tax credit, developed market plans and forecasts that relied on it, and now the wind PTC appears to be a required component of the industry’s economics. That was never the intent of Congress when this temporary tax credit was enacted 24 years ago. The PTC and ITC are now expired and we can expect roughly 15,000 MW of new wind to be built in response to the 1-year extension passed in 2013. After that, it’s over. It’s now time for taxpayers to consider better ways to spend their money.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New lawsuit filed in Orangeville

A group of about 60 town residents has filed a $40 million lawsuit against the Invenergy wind energy company.
The State Supreme Court suit was filed Aug. 1 in Wyoming County. Invenergy operates the Orangeville Wind Farm within the town.
The suit alleges “constant noise, vibrations and flicker” significantly impacted the plaintiff’s health and well-being, causing sickness, soreness, lameness and disability.
It also accuses Invenergy of diminishing the plaintiffs’ property values, creating noise pollution, and regularly violating the town’s 50-decibel noise ordinance.
The suit asks for $20 million for personal injuries, lost quality of life, and a loss in property value. It also asks for $20 million in punitive damages, compensation for court costs, and any other relief the court deems necessary.
Invenergy said in a statement issued Thursday that it will vigorously defend itself against what it described as unfounded claims.
“While support for renewable energy is strong across our country, we take seriously any concerns of those who live in a project host community,” the statement reads. “That is why we took great care in developing the Orangeville wind farm in accordance with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations. The lengthy authorization process was open and inclusive, allowing extensive opportunity for citizen input.
“In addition, since the Orangeville wind farm commenced commercial operation, the facility has been operated and maintained in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, including local zoning laws, relevant state agency directives, and Federal Aviation Administration  requirements.”
This is not the first time legal action has occurred involving the wind farm.
The Clear Skies Over Orangeville group twice sued the Town of Orangeville unsuccessfully in 2010 and 2012. The lawsuits were dismissed each time.
Property owner Robert White also filed a suit in 2011, which said a proposed turbine tower was too close to his hunting cabin off Bantam Road. He was successful, and a special use permit and site plan approvals for the tower were nullified.
Many of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are couples, representing about 25 different addresses within the town. The plaintiffs include several affiliated with CSOO.
The Orangeville Wind Farm has 58 turbines. Each is about 430 feet tall. Commercial operations began in March.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

After legal challenge, Maine utility regulators again OK $333 million partnership between Emera, First Wind

The Maine Public Utilities Commission voted 2-1 Tuesday to allow Emera Maine’s parent company to invest $333 million through a joint venture with wind farm developer First Wind, a deal that was sent back to the commission for further review after a Maine Supreme Judicial Court decision.
Deliberations in the case Tuesday centered on whether the financial relationship would create favoritism of any kind between the power-generating entity and the Maine transmission and distribution utility Emera Maine, which is owned by Nova Scotia-based Emera Inc.
“To use an familial analogy, this would be a second-cousin corporation and First Wind would be the spouse,” said PUC Commissioner David Littell during deliberations Tuesday.
That partnership first approved in 2012 involves Emera Inc. subsidiary Northeast Wind taking a 49 percent stake in the company JV Holdco, which would have ownership of certain First Wind projects. The Ontario-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. would also have a stake in those projects.
The renewed approval stands to bolster First Wind’s financing for projects in the state. As an indication of concern over the impact the court’s ruling would have on First Wind’s projects, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection asked the company to again file documentation proving it had access to money required for developing, maintaining and decommissioning its projects.
Opponents of the partnership wrote in briefs filed with the PUC that a partnership between an Emera entity and First Wind would violate Maine’s deregulation of the power industry in 2000, which generally prohibits transmission and distribution utilities like Emera Maine from owning electricity generation resources.
Commissioner Mark Vannoy, the lone dissenting vote of the three commissioners, argued that the conditions of the measure serve to mitigate the risk of favoritism among the utility and power generator, but that those conditions do not eliminate the influence of the financial interest and thereby violates the test the court laid out.
“It’s a very difficult enterprise for a regulatory body to build in an incentive and acknowledge it exists and then dampen it with conditions,” Vannoy said. “The simple conclusion is that a financial incentive exists to favor a certain generator.”
Vannoy said it is not the PUC’s task to evaluate whether such favoritism would occur but whether the structure of the deal creates a prohibited interest.
The court decision ordered the PUC to determine when a financial relationship is sufficient to give a transportation and distribution company an incentive to favor one power generator over another.
The company expressed confidence to the DEP that the $333 million investment from Emera would move ahead to support part of its projects in Oakfield, Hancock and Bingham.
That funding would in turn become a part of the financing for First Wind’s projects in Oakfield, Hancock, Bingham and perhaps others.
Emera and First Wind were cautious about declaring the vote Tuesday as a victory. Representatives from both companies said it’s premature to comment on the decision until they have the PUC’s order in writing. That order will include other conditions that aim to mitigate any influence the investment would have over Emera or Emera Maine’s transmission and distribution planning.
A spokeswoman for Emera and spokesman for First Wind both said in emails that the result of deliberations Tuesday were “very encouraging.”
Tom Welch, chairman of the commission, cast the deciding vote. That breakdown mirrors some past commission votes on wind energy proposals, with Littell generally in support and Vannoy opposing.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Wind turbine fire risk: Number that catch alight each year is ten times higher than the industry admits

Fire has a huge financial impact on the industry, the researchers report in the journal Fire Safety Science.
Each wind turbine costs more than £2 million and generates an estimated income of more than £500,000 per year.
Any loss or downtime of these valuable assets makes the industry less viable and productive.
Dr Guillermo Rein of Imperial’s department of mechanical engineering, said: ‘Fires are a problem for the industry, impacting on energy production, economic output and emitting toxic fumes.
‘This could cast a shadow over the industry’s green credentials.
‘Worryingly our report shows that fire may be a bigger problem than what is currently reported. Our research outlines a number of strategies that can be adopted by the industry to make these turbines safer and more fire resistant in the future.’
Wind turbines catch fire because highly flammable materials such as hydraulic oil and plastics are in close proximity to machinery and electrical wires.
These can ignite a fire if they overheat or are faulty. Lots of oxygen, in the form of high winds, can quickly fan a fire inside a turbine, the paper found.
It contradicts the findings of a report into the wind industry, commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive in 2013, which concluded that the safety risks associated with wind turbines are very low.
The wind industry last night questioned the validity of the new research.
Chris Streatfeild, of Renewable UK which represents wind firms, said: ‘The industry would challenge a number of the assumptions made in the report, including the questionable reliability of the data sources and a failure to understand the safety and integrity standards for fire safety that are standard practice in any large wind turbine.
‘Wind turbines are designed to international standards to meet mandatory health and safety standards including fire safety risks.
‘The industry remains committed to promoting a safe environment for its workers and the public, and no member of the public has ever been injured by a wind turbine in the UK.’

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Climate McCarthyism has claimed another victim. Dr Caleb Rossiter - an adjunct professor at American University, Washington DC - has been fired by a progressive think tank after publicly expressing doubtabout man-made global warming.

Rossiter, a former Democratic congressional candidate, has impeccably liberal credentials. As the founder of Demilitarization for Democracy he has campaigned against US backed wars in Central America and Southern Africa, against US military support for dictators and against anti-personnel landmines. But none of this was enough to spare him the wrath of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) when he wrote an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal describing man-made global warming as an "unproved science."
Two days later, he was sacked by email. The IPS said: "We would like to inform you that we are terminating your position as an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies...Unfortunately, we now feel that your views on key issues, including climate science, climate justice, and many aspects of US policy to Africa, diverge so significantly from ours."
In the WSJ OpEd entitled Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change, Rossiter argued that Africans should benefit from the same mixed energy policy as Americans rather than being denied access to fossil fuels on spurious environmental grounds by green activists. He wrote: "The left wants to stop industrialization - even if the hypothesis of catastrophic, man-made global warming is false."
But the Institute for Policy Studies ("Ideas into Action for Peace, Justice, and the Environment") is ideologically committed to ensuring that Africans only enjoy the benefits of expensive, intermittent, inefficient renewable energy such as wind and solar.
Rossiter told Climate Depot:
"If people ever say that fears of censorship for 'climate change' views are overblown, have them take a look at this: Just two days after I published a piece in the Wall Street Journal calling for Africa to be allowed the 'all of the above' energy strategy we have in the U.S., the Institute for Policy Studies terminated my 23-year relationship with them…because my analysis and theirs 'diverge.'"
His sacking follows the persecution last month of Lennart Bengtsson, a Swedish meteorologist and climatologist who decided to resign his position at the Global Warming Policy Foundation after being harassed by climate alarmists for his "incorrect" views on man-made climate change.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New York State Voters : Create a 51st state OR Free Upstate New York from NYC control

When in the course of human events...NYC and Upstate New York often have diametrically opposing points of view due to demographic difference and population density.
Consider the idea of NYC being autonomous like DC, LONDON & Vatican City. 
Upstate NY taxpayers rights to self representation are currently crushed under NYC Voters boots. Something must be done. Join me, due to the enormous TOTAL concentration of voters in NYC the voices of a huge geographical area (UPSTATE NY) are silenced.
This must change.
Tail waging the dog politics are inherently unfair to the dog.
Free Upstate NY.
OR Maybe it is time for a 51st State.
We Demand Emancipation from NYC. We demand our right to self govern.
Friends of freedom, we have been stalled at every turn. IT IS NOW Time to take our fight to the state house. To many politicians are afraid to say and do what must be done! Lets face it! Up State NY and NYC are two different worlds. UP state NY continues to be subjugated to the will of NYC politicians. This must change. If elected to the assembly will put forward legislation that protects the God Given Rights and autonomy of UP State NY and dissolves the chains that bind US to extreme NYC leftists. I will fight to get this done until we are FREE!

If that means a 51st state?

So be it!

I hope you will support my run for public office. You can start by liking my FB fan page and sharing it everywhere.
Please email your list with this latest development!
Carl R.Gottstein Jr.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

US Senate revives tax breaks

The US senate today voted 96 to 3 to advance a ‘tax extenders’ bill, which includes renewable energy tax credits.
During a procedural vote the legislators agreed to open debate on the bill, which includes renewal of the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) as part of an $80bn package of about 50 tax breaks that lapsed 31 December.
The EXPIRE Act extends the provisions for two years through 31 December 2015.
The PTC pays 2.3 cents/kWh during the first 10 years of operation and the ITC is worth up to 30% of the costs of developing and building wind projects.
The Senate will consider the bill again at a later time.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is reviewing similar legislation.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Enron-style price gouging is making a comeback

The price of electricity would soar under the latest scheme by Wall Street financial engineers to game the electricity markets.
If regulators side with Wall Street — and indications are that they will — expect the cost of electricity to rise from Maine to California as others duplicate this scheme to manipulate the markets, as Enron did on the West Coast 14 years ago, before the electricity-trading company collapsed under allegations of accounting fraud and corruption.
The test case is playing out in New England. Energy Capital Partners, an investment group that uses tax-avoiding offshore investing techniques and has deep ties to Goldman Sachs, paid $650 million last year to acquire three generating plant complexes, including the second largest electric power plant in New England, Brayton Point in Massachusetts.
Five weeks after the deal closed, Energy partners moved to shutter Brayton Point. Why would anyone spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the second largest electric power plant in New England and then quickly take steps to shut it down?
Energy partners says in regulatory filings that the plant is so old and prone to breakdowns that it is not worth operating, raising the question of why such sophisticated energy-industry investors bought it.
The real answer is simple: Under the rules of the electricity markets, the best way to earn huge profits is by reducing the supply of power. That creates a shortage during peak demand periods, such as hot summer evenings and cold winter days, causing prices to rise. Under the rules of the electricity markets, even a tiny shortfall between the available supply of electricity and the demand from customers results in enormous price spikes.
With Brayton Point closed, New England consumers and businesses will spend as much as $2.6 billion more per year for electricity, critics of the deal suggest in documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
That estimate will turn out to be conservative, I expect, based on what Enron traders did to California, Oregon and Washington electricity customers starting in 2000. In California alone the short-term market manipulations cost each resident more than $1,300, a total burden of about $45 billion. 

Clearance pricing

Electricity is sold in what are known as clearance price auctions, in which all sellers get the price of the highest winning bid. Imagine 10 suppliers, each owning an identically sized power plant for a total of 10 plants. Now imagine that demand in the next hour will require power from nine of these plants, and that bids range from one penny to $100.
If the plant offering the ninth greatest price — i.e. the second highest price — bids $95, that becomes the clearance price. Under this scenario — and this is the key point with clearance price auctions — every plant that bid $95 or below wins the auction, and each of them gets $95, even if some offered to sell power for a penny and even if the average price was $20.
Electricity market trading records in Texas have shown that under these rules, prices have spiked to more than $3 million per hour above the average price offered. Revenue above the average price is virtually pure profit.
Trading records and experiments conducted by Professor Sarosh Talukdar at Carnegie Mellon University and others show that the electricity auction rules tend to drive prices up, not down, until they approach the level that an unregulated monopolist could charge.
This occurs because suppliers learn to arrange their bids to ensure the highest price, a good example of how competition does not always favor customers or lower prices. While collusion among suppliers is illegal, learning how to jack up prices by studying bidding patterns is perfectly legal.
The original market rules, by the way, were drafted by a massive fraud posing as an electricity trading company named Enron. (I explain those rules, how they came about and how they work against customers in my book “Free Lunch.”)

Just and reasonable?

Energy Capital Partners says it complied with every detail of law. It says regulators “should refuse to entertain baseless allegations of market manipulation.”
Its competitors support the plan. That is not surprising, since they would all share in the profits from artificially inflated prices.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Maine DEP asks First Wind to prove financial capacity

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is asking First Wind, Maine’s largest wind power developer, to prove that it has enough money to build four major projects that are in different stages of construction and permitting.

The request follows a Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruling last month that the state’s Public Utilities Commission erred when it approved a joint venture between First Wind and Emera Inc. of Nova Scotia, the energy company that owns two utilities in northern and eastern Maine. The projects that the DEP is scrutinizing had millions of dollars in financing from Emera, money that First Wind now can’t use.

The PUC is holding meetings to decide how to comply with the court’s ruling.

The DEP’s request affects four wind-energy projects: Oakfield Wind in Aroostook County, Hancock Wind in Hancock County, Bingham Wind in Somerset County, and Bowers Wind in Penobscot and Washington counties. Taken together, the projects could cost about $1 billion to build.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bill Gates-backed startup to install energy storage battery at wind power project in Hawaii

A Massachusetts-based startup backed by Microsoft’s Bill Gates plans to install its energy storage battery at First Wind’s wind power projects in Oahu, Hawaii.
First Wind said they are still determining which project will receive the technology. Upon the decision, Ambri and First Wind will formalize an agreement.  
Ambri, is one of 15 startups to receive funding from Energy Excelerator.
The solutions is a liquid metal battery that can store electricity for under $500 per kilowatt hour. According to Biz Journals, that is less than a third of what conventional battery storage costs.
Ambri’s energy storage battery will also be installed at a Massachusetts military base.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

First Wind Marks Five Years of Commercial Operations at Cohocton Wind

What do you expect from the mainstream press!
 — First Wind, an independent U.S.-based renewable energy company, today recognized the fifth anniversary of successful commercial operations at its 125 megawatt (MW) Cohocton Wind project in Steuben County, New York. Construction of the 50 turbine project began in the fall of 2007, and Cohocton Wind began commercial operations in January of 2009. The project produces enough clean, cost-competitive energy to power over 35,000 homes each year.
“As our largest operating wind project in the Northeast, and our second project to achieve commercial operations in New York, Cohocton Wind has been an integral part of our generation portfolio and we are very proud to recognize this milestone today,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind. “In the five years since the project went online, as well as in the development and construction periods, we are thrilled to see how this project has not only delivered renewable, cost-competitive energy to ratepayers, but has also served as a significant source to further local economic development for the Town of Cohocton and surrounding Steuben County communities while supporting New York’s ambitious clean energy goals.”
Since 2009, the Cohocton Wind project has provided significant local revenue and benefits by generating more than 200 jobs during construction, providing for 10 permanent operational positions, and helping to stimulate the local business economy. Cohocton Wind also provides substantial tax revenue for the Town of Cohocton, generating a total of at least $14 million in tax payments over a period of 20 years, with almost $4 million paid in the first five years. It also serves as a source of tax revenue for local schools, Town of Cohocton Special Districts, and Steuben County government, thereby reducing pressure on property taxes while helping to improve schools and strengthen local services.
To date, the town of Cohocton has been able to reduce property taxes by 60 percent, purchase all new highway equipment, pay off all debts, improve the local community park, start a new paid ambulance service, rebuild aging infrastructure, and generally improve services. Below is a summary of some of the notable milestones achieved during the five years of successful commercial operations of the Cohocton Wind project.
Project Benefits and Highlights
  • The renewable power generated has been supplying clean, renewable electricity to approximately 35,000 New York homes annually since the project went online.
  • The Cohocton Wind project provides significant local revenue, including over $14 million in tax payments to the Town of Cohocton over the course of 20 years. The property tax revenues fund county infrastructure, conservation, and economic development projects.
  • In addition to the payments to the Town, First Wind also makes annual lease payments to landowners.
  • Based on data recently published by the U.S. EPA’s Emissions and Generation Resource Integrated Database (E-GRID), generating an equivalent amount of electric energy from a traditional fossil fuel burning facility would have required about 2,213,000 barrels of oil or 637,400 tons of coal over the five year period, yet has none of the associated toxicity, health, or cost issues.
  • As an active member of the Cohocton community, First Wind has donated over $50,000 to local food pantries, the Cohocton Lego Robotics Club, the Cohocton Lions Club, the Cohocton Fire Department, the Cohocton Historical Society, the Sons of the American Legion Post 805, multiple Wayland Cohocton Central School programs, and others.
  • First Wind provided $150,000 toward the revitalization of The Larrowe House, which is a local historic landmark.
  • Each year First Wind has provided a $3,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from Wayland Cohocton Central School.
In addition to the 125 MW Cohocton Wind project, First Wind also operates the combined 35 MW Steel Winds I and II projects in Lackawanna and Hamburg Counties, New York, along the shores of Lake Erie.

Read more here:

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Let the wind subsidy blow away

In the early 1990s, with dreams of cheap and clean wind energy ascendant, Congress lavished a generous subsidy on power from the tall, twirling turbines. The wind industry responded, and since then has increased its installed generating capacity 30-fold.

For 20-plus years the subsidy has been intermittent, although not as unreliable as the winds that drive the turbines. The most recent authorization, a 2013 extension tucked into the federal budget deal that avoided the so-called fiscal cliff, expired Dec. 31. Applause, please, for our do-little Congress: What's known as the wind production tax credit has long outlived any public policy usefulness. Lawmakers now being urged by industry lobbyists to renew the subsidy retroactively instead should let it blow away.

We say this with no animus toward the bucolic concept of wind energy, whose clean-and-green image is to electrical generation what puppies and kittens are to the animal kingdom. Our concern is the reality of subsidized wind energy at a time when natural gas is more plentiful, and cheaper, than Washington could envision in the 1990s. Today wind generation is a comparatively expensive proposition that, whenever its tax subsidy temporarily has vanished, has seen the new construction of wind farms all but vanish too. These welfare payments to the industry have incentivized private investors to sink money into wind projects that, without the federal freebie, they're eager (and probably smart) to avoid.

Like its cousins, the ethanol and solar industries, the wind lobby basks in political correctness and political favoritism: Big Wind, too, has grown comfortable in its dependence on federal and state governments that decide which energy industries will be winners or losers — discrimination enforced by squeezing taxpayers or rigging regulations.

News about eagles killed by turbines is an issue separate from government coddling, but one now emerging as a public relations debacle. In late November, Duke Energy agreed to pay $1 million in fines in the first criminal case brought against a wind company over the killings of federally protected birds, 14 golden eagles and 149 other protected birds slain at two wind projects in Wyoming. Robert G. Dreher, an acting assistant U.S. attorney general, explained the violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act: "In this plea agreement, Duke Energy Renewables acknowledges that it constructed these wind projects in a manner it knew beforehand would likely result in avian deaths."

Duke said it is working with federal officials and field biologists to determine when it should shut down its turbines to limit bird deaths. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is investigating similar cases elsewhere — and has referred seven of them to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.

Motor vehicle drivers, illegal hunters and deaths by poisoning kill more eagles than turbines do. But growing publicity about wind farms chewing up eagles undercuts the industry's promotion of itself as environmentally friendly. The National Audubon Society and other conservation groups are especially exercised about a new federal rule, announced in December, that lets wind farms obtain 30-year permits to lawfully kill bald and golden eagles. Many Americans who only have heard about neighbors of wind farms criticizing the turbines' thrumming noises will have a far easier time relating to criminal cases based on huge blades pulverizing wildlife.

All of which pins the Obama administration between its dueling political loyalists: environmentalists learning about the 30-year eagle kill permits, and fans of renewable energy sources that don't spew carbon dioxide.

Wind energy's peculiar problem is that, because wind blows erratically, companies that rely on it also need backup generating capacity — typically fossil-fueled — for days when customers want electricity but the air is still.

The obvious solution here is for Congress and the White House to stop manipulating the tax code as America's de facto energy policy: Thorough federal tax reform should sunset this arbitrary favoritism for wind energy and other politically favored industries.

Late in 2013, Big Wind fought fiercely to renew its expiring subsidy but failed. We hope that means many members of Congress see this as a mature industry that long ago outgrew its infancy and understand that the nation's new wealth of lower-cost natural gas has profoundly rewritten U.S. energy economics.

The wind lobbyists will be back in 2014, pleading for more handouts from American taxpayers. Tell your members of Congress that a government $17 trillion in debt — and still borrowing heavily — can't afford to keep protecting this industry from cheaper competition.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Maine environmental groups clash over wind power

Two environmental groups are going head to head over the impact on wildlife and the future benefits of wind energy development in Maine.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains challenged Maine Audubon on Thursday to retract a recent report that says wind energy is sometimes compatible with wildlife, and to acknowledge funding it receives from the wind power industry.

Maine Audubon defended its report, “Wind Power and Wildlife in Maine,” and questioned whether the leaders of Friends of Maine’s Mountains fully understand its parameters and recommendations.

Maine Audubon, a nonprofit based in Falmouth, released a report Dec. 4 saying that the state has 1.1 million acres that are windy enough for power generation, and that wind turbines could be developed on 84 percent of that area with minimal impact on some wildlife and habitat resources.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains questioned why Maine Audubon would endorse the installation of more “bird-killing machines” based on a study that – in its view – failed to throughly investigate the benefits of wind power and its effects on migratory birds and other wildlife.

“The Audubon brand is a strong environmental brand,” said Richard McDonald, a board member of Friends of Maine’s Mountains. “It’s like giving wind-energy development the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”

Friends of Maine’s Mountains is a Weld-based nonprofit that has opposed wind-energy projects and advocates on behalf of natural resources, reliable energy and affordable power.

Michelle Smith, Maine Audubon’s spokeswoman, said she was surprised that Friends of Maine’s Mountains came out against the report, because it recommends that “any land-based wind development in the mountainous areas of northern and western Maine and along our coast be carefully studied.”

“We’re not advocating that wind turbines can be sited anywhere,” Smith said. “The goal of this report is to start a dialogue about where we can rightly site wind turbines in Maine that has the least impact on wildlife and its habitat.”

Smith noted that state officials have set a goal to have capacity to produce 3,000 megawatts of land-based wind energy by 2030, which would require adding 600 wind turbines to Maine’s landscape. The state now has 200 turbines.


Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior decided to extend the period in which wind power companies are permitted to kill or injure bald or golden eagles with wind turbines without penalty from five to 30 years.

The decision was immediately controversial. Although bald eagles are no longer listed as threatened or endangered, bald and golden eagles are still protected species.

“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society.

On Thursday, Friends of Maine’s Mountains asked Maine Audubon, which is independent from the national group, to reconcile the recommendations in its wind energy report with its advocacy for wildlife.

“I’m not sure where (Friends of Maine’s Mountains) is going with that,” Smith responded. “We would never support the killing of eagles.”

The friends group also concluded that Maine Audubon’s report gives the wind power industry a “free pass” to develop projects without regard for their impact on wildlife. The group’s leaders urged Maine Audubon to re-evaluate its association with wind energy companies.

Among Maine Audubon’s top corporate donors is First Wind, a renewable-energy company that has developed and operates 16 wind power projects in Maine, New York, Vermont, Utah, Washington and Hawaii.

According to Maine Audubon’s website, the Boston-based company is an Eagle-level donor, along with L.L. Bean and Maine Magazine, each having contributed more than $10,000 this year.

Friends of Maine’s Mountains indicated that corporate donors that gave at lower levels also benefit from Maine Audubon’s support for wind power development, including Falcon-level ($5,000-plus) donor Reed & Reed general contractors and Osprey-level ($2,500-plus) donor Central Maine Power Co.

The friends group also said in a news release Thursday that Maine Audubon’s report is “deficient in necessary scientific rigor required to conclude that industrial wind turbines are not detrimental to Maine’s wildlife and their habitats.”

The group called on Rebecca Holberton, a professor of biology and ecology at the University of Maine who saw a lack of reliable field study data and collision-risk assessment in Maine Audubon’s report.

Holberton noted that the report is “replete with disclaimers” about the limits of its findings, and questioned whether it should have been presented as a valid guide for siting wind turbines.


Susan Gallo, the wildlife biologist at Maine Audubon who wrote the report, acknowledged that the study is based on existing data, such as wildlife habitat maps. She said the report doesn’t eliminate the need for site-by-site analysis of wind energy proposals, but it does balance Maine Audubon’s concern for wildlife preservation and bird migration patterns with a policy goal to stem climate change and end dependence on fossil fuels.

“We knew this was going to happen,” Gallo said. “This report wasn’t a comprehensive analysis of risks to wildlife. We didn’t address whether turbines are good or bad. We support wind in concept but not every wind development. And because of that, we often get attacked from both pro-wind and anti-wind.”
Jeremy Payne, executive director of the Maine Renewable Energy Association, defended Maine Audubon’s report.

“It’s shameful (that Friends of Maine’s Mountains) continually try and stand in the way of this clean, renewable power that is creating jobs, driving investment and increasing tax revenues for municipalities, counties and state government,” Payne said in a written statement.

Payne challenged the friends group to reveal its funding sources.

“We’re a volunteer organization with about 150 members and four board members who do most of the work,” said McDonald, who is a real estate agent in Kennebunk. “We rely on individual contributions. We have about $200 in the bank right now.”


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