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8/22/08 PART 2: What's that smell? Is there something rotten in the way of wind developers?


At what point does an offer of money become bribery?

Today's post is from a slide show that accompanies the New York Times article about the opportunities for corruption wind developers bring to struggling rural communities. Sadly, this is a story being told all across the nation.

Here in Rock County we are happy to have the kind of town board members and P&Z members we do. Without their honesty and openness we could be at the mercy of the kind of wind developers who have been roaming our area, ones who don't mind tearing apart a community in order to make buck. Developers who say 1000 feet from our doors is a fine place to put a 40 story tall machine with known noise issues and other problems. Developers who complain about the ordinances like the one adopted in the town of Magnolia with a 2640 foot setback from residences. They say it will ruin the profitability of their project, even though this ordinance still allows willing landowners to sign a waiver that lets them have a turbine 1000 feet from their homes. And it allows willing neighbors to do the same. What it doesn't allow is for someone to force any resident to live with a 400 foot tall machine 1000 feet from their house if they don't want it there.

The developers want the right to use this force on our communities.
Only our local board members can protect us. Only our local board members can remember that the money the developers are offering our townships comes out of our own pockets in the form of huge tax subsidies the wind farm developers rely on. Huge tax subsidies which make it profitable for a company to put a wind farm in a place with a low wind resource. A place with a high population. A place like our own Rock County, Wisconsin. 

With the tax subsidies and carbon credits these wind farms will still be profitable for the developers even if they don't produce much electricity at all.

And where does that all that tax money come from?

And did we mention that the wind farm proposed for Rock County will be owned by a company in Spain?

What's that smell? Something is rotten in the way of wind development in this country.

To read an article about wind development and corruption click here.

See the slide show at its source by clicking here.

Kathy LaClair worked on her family's laundry at her home in Churubusco Township, N.Y. Ms. LaClair said she suffers from vertigo caused by the shadow of the turbines passing through her windows, and told of how much she dislikes the noise from both the turbines and the constant buzz from a substation being built in the area.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Wind turbines dot the landscape around Malone. Lured by subsidies and buoyed by high oil prices, the wind industry has arrived in force upstate, promising jobs, tax revenue and renewable energy to the long-struggling region. But critics say the companies have delivered something else: an epidemic of corruption and intimidation, as they rush to acquire enough land to make the wind farms a reality.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Jared Trombly, 10, with his dog, Shadow, surrounded by wind turbines on his family's property in Malone. The family originally was against the wind project, but now has five turbines on the property. "God give us the wind," said Brent A. Trombly, Jared's father. And speaking of General Electric, a major manufacturer of the turbines, he said: "G.E. give us the windmills." Mr. Trombly is a former town supervisor of Ellenburg, which in 2003 approved a law to allow and establish regulations for the wind towers.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

A wind turbine in a cornfield dwarfs a truck near Malone.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Gerald Duffy of Malone, a retiree who enjoys bird-watching, is helping to lead the fight against the turbines around the town.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Construction workers were seen at the site of a substation, which is being built to collect energy from the wind turbines in Churubusco.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Supporters of the wind turbines say that the towers bring in badly needed new tax revenue on land that would otherwise be empty. "We see this industry coming, we see the payments coming in," said William K. Wood, a former Burke town board member. The school board of Chateaugay, he pointed out, received $332,800 this year from Noble for payments in lieu of taxes, money the district used to lower school taxes, upgrade its computers and provide a pre-kindergarten class for the first time. Pictured is the construction of a substation in Churubusco.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

A sign of protest and a for-sale sign, outside of the LaClair home in Churubusco.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Wind turbines surround the Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Chateaugay.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Ken and Janet Tacy, who have received threats from both family members and neighbors because of their stance against the wind turbines, looked at an easement document in their home in Burke. "My sisters and brothers won't even talk to me anymore," Mr. Tacy said. "They tear communities apart."

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

In these small towns near the Canadian border, families and friendships have been driven apart by feuds over the lease options, which can be worth tens of thousands of dollars a year. These are towns where the median income can hover in the $30,000 range. Rumors circulate about neighbors who can suddenly afford new tractors or trucks. Opponents of the wind towers even say they have received threats; one activist said that on two occasions, she found her car windshield bashed in.

Photo: Christinne Muschi for The New York Times

Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008 at 01:38PM by Registered CommenterThe BPRC Research Nerd | Comments Off

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