SPRINGFIELD – Advocates for Springfield has decided to oppose wind turbine projects in the Leatherstocking region. This is a change from the group’s prior endorsement of reaching compromises that would mitigate the most serious problems with these projects.
The change comes as the result of a broad discussion among the group’s 185 members. More than 87 percent of those expressing opinions opposed these projects.
Community Energy Executive Vice President Eric Blank disagreed with that figure, saying that he believed that Advocates for Springfield was “a very vocal minority. There are thousands of residents in the community, and I think the community overwhelmingly supports wind energy.”
“We were forced to back off our prior position when it became obvious that there seemed to be no compromise acceptable to both the developers of wind turbine projects and neighbors seeking mitigations,” said Harry Levine, president of Advocates for Springfield. “Since proposed projects in Cherry Valley and Stark and Warren will surround Springfield, we decided that we must take a position one way or the other.
“Although there was concern expressed by some members that we must make sacrifices to solve our energy crisis and address global warming, most were skeptical that wind turbines are going to be an effective part of the solution. This skepticism was based upon the fact that, without very large tax subsidies, these projects would not be built,” Levine added.
Levine also expressed concern over the economic impact of these projects to the regional economy, and feels tourism, broadly defined to include vacation homes, may be threatened by these industrial projects.
Levine also feels the proposed PILOT agreements and lease income payable to host landowners is inadequate compensation for the potential losses in a major segment of the local economy.
Advocates for Springfield is also concerned about health risks and visual impact.
“Immediate neighbors will be asked to take risks that we believe are potentially hazardous to their health,” Levine said. “Although these risks seem to be debatable -- with each side citing studies to support their observations about noise and shadow flicker -- we are not comfortable asking immediate neighbors to accept these possible health risks.”
There is a permit process going on, Blank said. He noted how, at all the public hearings, local people from the area who spoke in support of the project far outnumbered local people who did not support it. He also noted that a lot of the people opposing the project are from Otsego County, even though this project is located in Herkimer County.