In all of the discussions leading up to this wind turbine project in North East, you might hear the promoters talk about “green energy” or “renewable energy,” one local farmer talks about how wind fits in with his stewardship of the land and helping the entire country while a spokesman for the Lake Erie Region Conservancy talks about saving our natural resources. That’s a pretty impressive list, but after wind turbines go in, the discussion changes completely.
A local TV reporter for WJET traveled to Sheldon, New York, about a hundred miles from North East, home to 75 wind turbines, where she interviewed a local supervisor. He seemed pretty pleased with the project. If you watch his entire interview, you’ll hear him talk about payments to farmers and payments to Sheldon, New York. He seems to indicate big tax benefits to residents, new trucks for the community and a continuing list of good things all related to money. Wait, wasn’t this about renewable energy or something?
First it’s green energy, then it’s just the green
This seems to follow the pattern everywhere, don’t talk about the money until after the turbines go in, then talk only about money afterwards. It’s almost as though the “green” part of the discussion was referring to money all along, but whose money is it? No one is installing wind turbines because they love green energy or they love their country, it’s the money. C’mon, why hide it? If everyone can be open about the real reason these turbines are even being discussed in the first place, then maybe we can come up with better ideas, MUCH better ideas, than littering the whole countryside and tearing up the landscape with these things. Landowners who have signed leases see wind opponents as trying to take away their money while opponents may wonder why some people get singled out for such favorable treatment.
Wind is special, you’re not
Did you know you can put up millions of dollars worth of wind turbines on your property and the tax assessors must ignore it?
Pennsylvania enacted legislation in November 2006 providing that wind turbines and related equipment (including towers and foundations) may not be counted by tax assessors when setting property values
Make an addition to your house or build a garage and see if they ignore that, but there’s more.
If you sign a lease and have a turbine, you might think the money you get from selling the electricity it produces is like selling anything else, except it’s not. The utilities have to buy it in annually increasing amounts as mandated by the government. The utilities would rather not add intermittent wind energy because it really adds to their costs and makes it difficult to have a stable electric grid, but they have no choice.
The Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) requires that an annually increasing percentage of electricity sold to retail customers in Pennsylvania is from alternative energy sources.
It’s almost like the government is picking winners, spending your money to favor a few instead of letting businesses compete.
If it’s really about money, then let’s talk about money
If the whole point is to bring more money into the community, let’s have a discussion about that. There must be a thousand better ways to help the residents here build real businesses, creating real products and services people will buy without the government forcing them to pay, where individuals can earn money by making something useful, knowing what they receive is money willingly spent by happy customers, no “green energy” handouts for wind turbines necessary.
It’s really important to be clear when discussing what wind turbines are all about. If we muddy the conversation with “green” this or “renewable” that, we’ll never come up with solutions that are good for everyone. We can do better.
Teresa Sheridan Sculley says
I really want to make a comment but I think the information explains itself! Our wind energy isn’t going to help our communities directly. The people who have sold their air rights can get tired of the view and the noise and sell out and move. Now here’s a money question? Does the yearly royality go with the person who sold off the air rights above their property or does it go to the new land owner? Does the income from the wind turbine stay in the community or does it go into the pocket of the old land owner and into another towns cash registers?
Susan Beates says
With oil and gas rights, the lease stays with the land so I would think the same would be true with air rights. Has anyone heard the news about Cape Cod (I think it was)? I listened to NPR Morning Edition this morning and in some town, they are taking out three year old windmills because people were getting sick.
Abby L. says
I wish more people would pay attention to what is going on in Falmouth, Massachusetts. 1) It will cost Falmouth $14 million to take down 2 wind turbines. Will North East Supervisors require a large enough bond from Pioneer for decommissioning their 75 turbines? 2) Falmouth residents living 1,600 feet from turbines complain of noise and annoyance. What are North East’s proposed setbacks? 3) Pioneer claims it will use GE turbines in North East. However, GE declined the Falmouth project because the turbines would be set too close to roads. GE has safety concerns with ice throw. Will North East Supervisors listen to GE and other industry recommendations when setting setbacks? These are just a few of the problems with the Falmouth project. I hope North East residents will read the Massachusetts newspapers for further information. We are smart people — Let’s not repeat the mistakes of others!