July 27, 2015
Honorable Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary of the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Empire State Plaza
RE: Hudson North Country Wind 1: 15-F-0327
Dear Secretary Burgess:
I was closely involved with the industrial wind issue since 2006 when I first served as a Cape Vincent Town Councilman. I served again during the Article 10 application of BP Alternative Energy's Cape Vincent Wind Farm proposal. That experience left me with a few perspectives that may be helpful to those examining the Galloo Island application submitted by Hudson Energy.
Although Galloo Island is far enough offshore to minimize some of the impacts from turbine operation on the health and safety of the public, it is not without substantial impacts on the neighboring public's general welfare and quality of life. One of these is visual impacts. I want to inform commissioners about one particular aspect of wind turbine visual impacts that I observed during my 2011 campaign for town councilman.
During the summer of 2011 I met with nearly 100 waterfront residents along the St. Lawrence River in the Town of Cape Vincent. During these visits residents had a number of complaints about the visual impact from the Wolfe Island Wind Farm. Their complaints were quite specific about those impacts. Number one complaint was their enjoyment of sunsets - it was ruined by Wolfe Island turbines which lie directly west of these resident's summer homes. I recall one comment about how this development affected their quality of life, "We changed the orientation of the chairs on our deck, away from viewing the sunset and turbines, and toward downriver." After this comment I asked others about how they oriented chairs on their patios and decks and got identical responses.
It is important to understand that people who own waterfront properties in the Town of Cape Vincent are no different than those in the Towns of Henderson, Houndsfield, Brownville and Lyme. They all appreciate the visual advantages that make these properties the most valued in Jefferson County. These residents not only paid a premium when they purchased these properties, but they pay a premium for these views each year when they pay their property taxes. These property owners are particularly sensitive to visual impacts and it is important that policy-makers understand this distinction.
Commissioners should know that 600 ft turbines spinning on Galloo Island will have a profound impact on those property owners that lie easterly of Galloo Island. Settling down to watch the sunset over the lake and river are the highlights of the day for most of these property owners. It is one of the major reasons they own these properties.
To suggest, as some have noted, that Galloo's turbines will hardly be noticed is an insensitive and ignorant assessment. If the project is approved and completed, Galloo's turbines will not only be noticed, but they will be reviled as well. The visual assets of Lake Ontario shoreline and the Thousand Islands region are the backbone of our local tourism-based economy. Considering a project that would tamper with those visual assets and their potential impacts should be done very carefully.
The Galloo Island project is questionable from the standpoint of what it will accomplish in New York's energy future, but its impacts on shoreline property owners is much less questionable - it would be at least unfortunate and at most, disastrous. Please require a very detailed and comprehensive visual assessment of the Galloo Island project, one that also includes a survey questionnaire of waterfront property owners' habits, preferences and how they enjoy their properties.
Clifford P. Schneider
Wellesley Island, NY
View all public comments concerning the Galloo Industrial wind complex at this link