Opinion: Proposed wind farms: change is never easy, says Parishville resident
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 6:51 am

To the Editor:

None of us like change, and it always seems more comforting to have things stay as they are. I still recall fondly my childhood years on the family farm when each evening, after chores, all the local kids from the other nearby family farms would ride their bikes to our house for an impromptu ball game.

It certainly is different now, but things change, and we all have to learn to adapt. Farming and rural life have changed, and we should learn to accept things as they have become, and not long for what they once were. It may be hard to accept that there is little chance that we can somehow turn the clock back to when we were children.

It seems that the time has come to embrace renewable energy. While we can debate whether or not we are experiencing global warming, it seems hard to ignore the changes in the weather here in the North Country over the last 30 years, and evidence of climate change is all around us.

The well that had reliably provided us with water for the 31 years we have lived here, went dry last fall after months of almost no rain. None of us can deny that the winters are much milder, with much less snow. Snowmobilers are putting their sleds up for sale because there is no snow, and more than ten lives have been lost in the area this winter due to insufficient ice on bodies of water that always have been frozen reliably thick enough for sledding.

While history suggests that it is true that the earth’s climate changes in cycles, it also suggests that these cycles occur in time spans of thousands of years, not a few decades. This seems to suggest that something other than Mother Nature is altering the climate.

Many studies show that wind power has the lowest cost per megawatt to develop energy than other sources, even when the current Production Tax Credits expire, and although nobody disputes that greenhouse gasses are produced during the building and installation of the wind turbines and the wind farm, it has also been shown that the greenhouse gasses generated during the building of the wind farm will be negated by just 1 year of clean energy production from the wind farm.

The remaining 24 years of the normal 25-year life cycle of the turbines, will produce power with no climate impact. Opponents of wind power often state that the turbines do not always produce power due to lack of wind, and that is certainly true.

However, studies show that due to research and improvements in technology, percentages of production compared to maximum capacity have doubled in the last 20 years, and no doubt will continue to improve.

With the fossil fuel alternatives to renewable energy, coal, oil, and natural gas, seemingly continuing to damage our environment, and nuclear choices appearing unsafe to many people, renewable wind power seems to be a reasonable alternative.

Also, the wind farm being proposed here in the Parishville-Hopkinton area will provide a much needed economic boost. While there has been much debate about the PILOT proposal offered by the wind farm developers, I believe that PILOT agreements are generally negotiable, and it seems questionable to simply refuse the $750,000.00 starting offer to be divided among the taxing entities, with a significant portion of this money, possibly half, going to the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District.

I believe the $375,000, which would represent half of the proposed pilot, is approximately equal to about 10% of the local taxpayers contribution to the school budget. Although there are some that feel that this is completely unacceptable, can we ignore this influx of funding for our school, and easing of the tax burden for all of us?

Change is never easy, or many times, popular, but it seems that if history is any indicator, change is usually for the better. It is time to look forward. It is time to embrace wind power.

Bill Robbins