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Lakeshore residents re-organizing, as 50 wind farm generators expected

File Photo

There is no plan for wind generators off-shore from southern Erie County, but opponents are organizing just in case. A firm called Diamond Wind is expected to file for at least 50 generators in the lake next month, when as a window for wind farm applications opens.

The small group meeting Tuesday evening at the Southtowns Walleye Association in Hamburg is a successor to a group that fought windmills in Lake Erie a decade ago. Some of the people at the meeting were completely opposed to windmills. Some were opposed to windmills on land anywhere and all were opposed to them in the lake.

Paul Michalec said Albany has too much power to ignore local people and local views.

"The state gets the authority to do the siting, actually override the locality's ability to zone projects," he said. "Article 10 doesn't apply on the lake because the town's authority on the lake, only the state does. So again, it's the ability of the state to just come in and say, 'Here's what we're going to do.'"

Michalec said the state should have a conversation with local people about any proposal filed and should oppose the plan because of the claimed threat wind generator construction and operation represent to the fresh water of the Great Lakes, with a large fleet of off-shore windmills possible in the Cleveland area, upstream from Western New York.

It is not just Erie County, with groups in Niagara County and along Lake Ontario opposed to off-shore wind. Chautauqua County Legislator Kevin O'Connell said he is opposed, citing the threat to drinking water.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"The risk to our environment and to our major benefit, which is our fresh water as the future plays out, areas that have clean, fresh water are going to be the places that are going to see increased residents and migration from places that don't have those benefits," O'Connell said.

Elizabeth O'Donnell said stirring up the lake sediment to build off-shore windfarms threatens current and future generations.

"What's going to happen then? To children, grandchildren, great-nieces, great-nephews?" she asked. "I don't want us to be stupid and ruin the lake for them. This is the largest fresh water in the world. We have this amazing thing here and we need to understand the treasure that that is."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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