In June, two documents were released by the state that caused a reaction from a group called Save Ontario Shores on whether the state was trying to troubleshoot environmental and economic concerns in the region in order to install industrial wind turbines along the shores of Lake Erie, as well as, Lake Ontario.
The documents, one published by NYSERDA on June 18, and referred to by SOS as the “White Paper,” and another by the state Department of Public Service on June 11, used language that wind turbines could be used to cut down emissions from fossil fuel energy plants, and help propel the state toward its clean energy goals.
“I think that the state agencies were putting something forward and they have to do something in a hurry and not everyone’s at the table, not everyone’s been at the table since the beginning of this,” said Pam Atwater, a spokesperson for SOS.
The “White Paper” called for a “feasibility study for Great Lakes wind.”
It read, “A New York State Great Lakes Wind Feasibility Study would provide a broad assessment that considers wind energy development in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario through a framework that is sensitive to environmental, maritime, economic and social issues while considering market barriers and costs.”
In the DPS document – visual resources, fish, commercial and recreational fishing, as well as, birds and bats issues were analyzed. This is the first time the potential for offshore wind in the Great Lakes has been considered in regard to adverse impacts by the project.
“Community engagement is the first and foremost part of this ongoing process; no decision swill be made without local input. The white paper cited by community advocates is only proposing a feasibility study for Great Lakes wind at this time. DPS will conduct a full and thorough review of all of the comments it receives on the white paper before it is taken up by the PSC and decisions are made to move forward on the concepts raised. The goal of the white paper was to explore all avenues for reaching New York’s mandate to generate 70% of its electricity from renewables by 2030 and Great Lakes wind is one of multiple potential avenues proposed as worthy of early-stage exploration,” said James Denn, a representative for the Department of Public Service.
“Offshore industrial wind turbines will need to be massive in order to be cost competitive because they are incredibly expensive to install,” said Kate Kremer, vice-president of SOS. “Lake Erie and Lake Ontario are less than 60 miles wide making proximity to the shoreline closer to shore than ocean-based turbines. Lake Erie and Ontario are the smallest and already the most stressed of the five Great Lakes from decades of industrial runoff and other uses along their shores.”
“Stirring up legacy pollutants that are in the sediment of the lakes is an environmental disaster in the making. The lakes need restoration, not additional stresses,” she said.