Lawmakers Told About Advantages to Wind Farms
By Eric Durr, The Business Review (Albany), March 7, 2006

New York's guarantee that environmentally friendly energy will be purchased is generating jobs and economic development, while contributing to the state's energy independence, Bruce Bailey, president of AWS Truewind LLC, an Albany, N.Y., consulting firm, told state lawmakers Tuesday.

Bailey's comments came during a hearing on the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard - which calls for 25 percent of New York's electricity sales to come from renewable resources by 2013 - held by the New York state Assembly Energy Committee.

AWS Truewind, which provides wind-mapping services for firms investing in wind turbine projects, is one of a number of Albany, N.Y.-area firms benefiting from investments in wind energy, Bailey said.

Bailey is also a member of the board of directors of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, which represents supporters of renewable energy and companies participating in the renewable energy industry.

Delaney Construction, of Mayfield, which built a windfarm in Lewis County, and MSE Power Systems, an Albany, N.Y., company which undertakes engineering work on wind farms, area law firms, and environmental consultants, and General Electric Co. in Schenectady have all benefited from the wind industry in New York, Bailey told Assemblymembers.

Currently a dozen different wind energy companies are developing 40 medium-to-large grid connected wind farms across the state. These wind farms, Bailey said, could generate close to 10 percent of New York's electricity.

At a cost of $1.5 million to $1.8 million to generate a megawatt of power, these 3,300 megawatts of electricity production capacity represents a $5 billion investment in New York.

In his testimony, Bailey urged lawmakers to support plans to give renewable energy firms tax breaks and subsidies which would provide fiscal certainty to companies investing in the market.

"Investors must have confidence that the programs that reward them for taking risk are not at risk themselves. Regulatory uncertainty is anathema to investors and they are extremely sensitive to any signals that might be construed as a change in the RPS program," said Anna Giovinetto, director of renewable energy for Noble Environmental Power.

A number of community groups from rural regions, though, called on lawmakers to put a moratorium on windpower development. Until New York regulations and laws specifically address the issues revolving around large collections of wind turbines, there should be no more development, said Lynn Marsh, a Cherry Valley, Otsego County resident.

Marsh and citizens from Herkimer County, Montgomery County and Delaware County, urged the lawmakers to put the regulation and siting of wind farms in state hands. Local officials are overwhelmed by the complexities of the wind farm projects and the promise of tax dollar revenue from the wind farm operators blinds them to the environmental and quality of life impact of the turbine towers, they said.

The group cited noise from turbines, interference in bird flight patterns, and the dangers of ice falling from wind turbine blades as issues that are not being properly addressed.

Daniel MacKay, director of public policy for the Preservation League of New York, said that 56 percent of rural New York could be affected by wind turbine development. Because so much of the state could be impacted by wind farms, a statewide approach to siting and regulation is required.

Anne Van Buren, the director of energy and telecommunications for the Business Council of New York State Inc., reiterated the group's opposition to funding the renewable portfolio standards program with surcharges on electric bills. The Business Council is not opposed to windpower and other renewable energy sources, Van Buren said, but the state still needs to encourage the construction of conventional generators in order to ensure there is enough electricity.

Until the state has more generation than it needs, the benefits of competition in the energy market will not materialize, she said.

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