Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Clearing The Air on Wind Energy Issues

Not Quite NIMBYs –

In the debate over wind farms, we often hear the term NIMBY thrown around, I myself have thrown this term around quite recklessly. But let’s examine for a moment what NIMBYism strands for. It is an acronym meaning, “not in my backyard”. The key word here is “backyard”. In order to be a NIMBY, one has to be objecting to something that is actually taking place in his or her backyard. But wind farms are not going to be set up on anybody’s property against their wishes. If this were in fact a case of eminent domain, one might be more understanding of those in such fervent opposition to wind farms.

Local Government needs to be More Open

While I support the erection of wind turbines in Schoharie County (and I am a resident of the Town of Richmondville), I have to sympathize with those who feel left out of the process at the local level. My main concern is that officials at the town level will mishandle this process and in turn embitter many and make enemies out of potential friends. My sincere hope is that this changes and information and dialogue begin to flow freely between the Towns of Richmondville and Fulton and the citizens of those towns.

What about Richmondville’s Energy Needs?

Maybe the scale of this project is too big and the beneficiaries too far away. It would be interesting if Richmondville Power and Light for example, could either buy the power through National Grid, or from Reunion Power, or even operate the wind turbines itself, meeting the needs of its own customers and then selling excess power to other communities in Schoharie County.

I don’t doubt for a second that if more residents were directly benefited by the generation of energy via wind power, they would be a lot more supportive.


Anonymous said...

Your second and third points are right on Sean! This may be the key to using the resource correctly.

As for your first point: it strikes me as a bit oversimplistic and I can surmise from this stance that you must not own any property. Think about the people that bought property based on the current zoning law. Are they wrong for having concerns about property impacts that may stretch way beyond the property lines of those that "deem it fit" to make money at the expense of their neighbors by manipulating an easily manipulated town body? Are they wrong for wanting to keep the zoning the same? Also, the majority of people that are being approached to erect wind towers are not farmers and the farmers that are being approached are not hurting financially.

Anonymous said...

Another point - where do you live? If I "deem it fit" to put a junkyard next door to you because I need to make some cash will you help me get the town board to chnage the zoning?

Sean Thomas said...

Thanks for your post, but I’m sorry that you missed the point here. Believe me, I’m not trying to simplify, I’m really trying to complicate things and make the tangible abstract. What appeared to be a simplistic rant, was actually a suggestion or provocation to consider the differences and tensions between use value and exchange value.

But the truly ironic thing is that the continuing influx of exurban homeowners with their McMansions, SUV’s and septic systems are more of an environmental burden on our land and hillsides than a few dozen windmills. When I think of visual blight, the McMansions and big box stores sprouting up everywhere is the thought that comes to mind, not wind turbines.

It’s ironic and funny that people who are rushing into the county and pock-marking the hills with unsightly development are the ones complaining about the development of wind turbines, which can actually help to offset the high-consumption lifestyles of the exurban homeowners complaining about them.

As for your second post, well, junkyards have to go somewhere, and of course nobody wants to live near something that may be objectionable. As to whether I would actually object to such a land use near my home, I would have to ask what kind of junkyard are we talking about?

Are we talking about stuff that could potentially contaminate my well water? Are we talking a few dozen junk cars? How close would it be to my property line? As long as the junkyard didn’t have anything toxic a tall fence would solve any concerns I might have.

Does that answer your question?

Me again said...

cool...lets just build a fence around the windmills! I think it would have to be pretty darn tall, though. As for "exurban" homeowners with big houses, would illegal mexicans with no houses be better?
Hey, they could live in the junk cars at the junkyard with the beautiful fence around it, and they wouldn't have to build houses at all!!
As for the "waste" problem, outhouses inside the fence might work, that technology has been around longer than the Roman's sewer system. otherwise, maybe you could just let them use your facilities, as long as you have a municipal sewer system!!
(just kidding)
...sorry guys, I couldn't resist...

Sean Thomas said...

Holy crap!! That was really racist. Do me a favor: don’t read my blog, don’t comment on my blog, and don’t ever under any circumstances ask to use my facilities. Here’s a website that might be more to your liking:

I don’t know about junkyards or wind turbines, but if I lived near a maniac like you, I’d definitely **definitely** have a fence.

Anonymous said...

"McMansions and big box stores sprouting up everywhere" - huh? Are you living in Schoharie County?

Anonymous said...

Sean, you seem pretty confident that only "newcomers" are opposed to the wind turbines. Maybe some of the more vocal critics are, but there are people who were born here that don't want them either. This is another arguement that is used by the pro windmill group to make anyone with legitimate fears and doubts feel like an outsider. Let's stop with the "exurban" rants. People move all over the world and they have a mind and a say even if they don't happen to stay in the place they were born.

Show me the proof said...

Junkyards - yes it does answer my question because it shows me that you would have concerns. Let's say no toxic materials, but a BIG junkyard with lights and a chainlink fence to keep people on/off the property. The fence would not block the view because that is not important.

As for offsetting consumption of coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas - where are you getting this from? Do you really think these things will not be used? The same companies are involved in wind and the only thing green they (power execs and landowners who want towers) are interested in is the green that fattens their wallets!

Sean Thomas said...

Just a few notes… I realize that my posts have obviously touched a lot of nerves. So obviously I’m doing something right, and will continue to do so. But…I will no longer respond to posts that are childish and inane in nature, or that contain racist and insensitive remarks or that are directed at me personally (“let’s talk when you grow up and own some property”). I won’t delete these posts, but I won’t pay attention to them either as they are a waste of my time.

I will however do my best to answer your questions and concerns and engage in debate that is rational and that has worth. I will also seek to correct erroneous assertions when they are made. Sometimes we make mistakes (no one is above this) and other times we just pull stuff out of our ass to make our point stronger.

Now to address some concerns –

No – I’m not asserting that the debate over windmills splits between long-time residents and outsiders, not at all. I am however pointing out that opponents often are concerned more about their properties exchange value, and these people tend more often than not to be exurban homeowners. I myself have lived in Richmondville for twenty years and do own property. My home or property is not an investment and I am not a real estate speculator. I live here. And believe it or not, I have “legitimate fears and doubts” but I am not opposed based solely on the potential of my property value declining or any other trivial consequences of wind turbine development. I’m sorry that you’re hearing something other than what I’m saying.

“the only thing green they (power execs and landowners who want towers) are interested in is the green that fattens their wallets!”

That’s pretty harsh and it’s not true. The fact is, we live in a free market, and for good or bad, right now the only way to get innovative and novel ideas off the ground is to somehow make them profitable. If someone just wanted to make money for themselves they could easily do so in the oil industry or by working on Wall Street. Investing time and personal resources in a new and uncertain industry requires more than just greed, it requires a personal commitment to particular ideals.

Did you go to the Fulton Town Board meeting and listen to and talk with Reunion Power execs or were you one of the people who went with a closed mind and just crapped all over it?

Show me the proof said...

In regard to constructive debate - agreed. I think the main problem is that property owners in Rich. feel crapped on because we have not had a say, have not been shown any facts and the Rich board is making all the decisions by only listening to Reunion. There has been no constructive look into other alternatives, smaller projects, or projects that will bring elec. locally. No, I did not go to fulton because I live in Rich, but I have not seen anything to convince me that disrupting our hillsides will make some societal difference. Just a suggestion - maybe if your intitial posts are not insulting and list some facts, others will not feel compelled to respond in a defensive manner. Schoharie County does not have many jobs, has very little cultural activities, so the one main thing it has going for it - peace and quiet and rural living is being threatened whether you feel it is a real threat or not.

Anonymous said...

I like this from my neighbor {I think it sounds like her}::

A real effort to reduce consumption would include making it economical to get structures to be more energy self-sufficient using solar, small wind, and/or other renewable resources. This would also benefit the country during times of a disaster, as individual structures would not necessarily lose power. Instead the bucks get spread to large-scale projects with the big lobby efforts – including wind.

Any comments??