Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Take a hard look at wind-farm windfalls

I can’t help but be amused at periodic news stories of some Northern New York town representatives gushing about a proposed wind energy deal. As they regurgitate the sales pitch they’ve been fed, it’s clear that the developer has succeeded in appealing to the second oldest human frailty: greed. “We will be getting $10 million over 10 years” is a frequent rationale. Their tactic is clear, since they have been easily duped by the allure of money, they believe that most of their constituents should be likewise susceptible.
How many of our legislators convey the true picture to citizens? Haven’t they ever heard that there’s no free lunch? Yes, they have been offered a financial deal, but the rest of the story includes numerous other aspects like:
■ The “windfall” money is coming from local taxpayers and ratepayers.
■ The deal is premised on an enormous property tax giveaway that no other citizen gets.
■ None of the figures conveyed to the public are net — why not?
■ Property values near this development will depreciate: who will compensate those citizens for their loss?
■ Some proximate residents will experience negative health effects: who will compensate them for their illnesses?
■ It’s proven that there will be agricultural losses up to 15 miles away: who will pay for those?
■ There are several adverse environmental impacts, yet these people say they are helping the environment.
■ The claim that this project “will power 10,000 homes” is a totally dishonest statement.
■ The claims that this project will replace imported oil, or some polluting coal facility, are also false.
■ In fact there are zero scientifically proven NET societal benefits for wind energy. Zero.
So listen carefully when your town representatives explain the pros and cons of a proposed wind project. In many instances they are assuming that you are too dumb to understand the details, that you don’t care anyway, and that the inducement of some unguaranteed future payoffs will insure that you start drooling (so you won’t pay attention to the big picture).
On the other hand, real representatives will give you an honest, complete, and objective explanation about the whole situation. You decide which is acceptable.
John Droz Jr.