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Great Lakes wind still in limbo, gas study debate continues

Where and when wind turbines might wind up in the Great Lakes is still unclear.
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Where and when wind turbines might wind up in the Great Lakes is still unclear.

At the Democrat and Chronicle, Steve Orr writes that "fierce public opposition" has put the nail in the coffin of most every freshwater offshore wind project.  The exception is New York's Great Lakes Offshore Wind project (GLOW) - for now:

The sudden declaration of an offshore wind moratorium in Ontario was "a huge blow to offshore development in not only Canada but in the U.S. as well," said Alan Isselhard, an outspoken opponent of the power authority's plan. "But I don't feel NYPA [New York Power Authority] will be intimidated ... by what's happened anywhere else," said [offshore windpower opponent Alan] Isselhard, who lives on the Lake Ontario shoreline in Wayne County. "They have unlimited public money at their disposal to go forward." Indeed, the authority — an independent arm of state government based in Westchester County — is pressing ahead eagerly, hoping to be the first offshore wind project in the Great Lakes. At an offshore wind conference in Henrietta on Wednesday, authority spokesman Louis Paonessa said NYPA was "very close" to announcing a way forward.

Meanwhile, one of the projects that has been forwarded as a potential GLOW winner, Galloo Island, is still in limbo, reports Nancy Madsen at the Watertown Daily Times.  Galloo Island is just that - an island - and needs transmission lines and an agreement from the state to purchase its power before it can put up turbines.  But the power authority has been reluctant to put those elements in place:

The developer has applied to the New York Power Authority for an agreement under the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project. But NYPA isn't ready yet to announce who will receive contracts to sell power through the offshore wind program. And NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel said Feb. 9 that the authority wasn't negotiating a power contract with Upstate NY Power. But he also said he wasn't involved in the authority's procurement process for the offshore wind project. Mr. Kessel said in May that wind power projects in Jefferson County wouldn't get power purchase agreements after the county's Board of Legislators voted in March to oppose the offshore wind project, which possibly included some off Jefferson County's shores.

And finally, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing for a tax credit for a firm that wants to build wind turbines in several upstate cities, reports Thomas Adams at the Rochester Business Journal:

The D’Arcinoff Group Inc. of Washington, D.C., wants to operate 15 clean technology manufacturing facilities in 15 plants in the United States, including Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and Ogdensburg, said Gillibrand, D-N.Y. The four New York plants could employ up to 10,000 as part of a first phase, and up to 15,000 in multiple shifts when fully implemented, Gillibrand said.

Natural gas

The debate about a new study that argues coal is greener than natural gas continues at the New York Times' Green blog.  Tom Zeller has points and counterpoints from both sides of the argument over Robert Howarth of Cornell University's paper in Climate Change Letters.

Jon Campbell at the Ithaca Journal has a similar report, noting the difficulty in adjudicating the debate:

"I'm struck by the fact that people on both sides of the debate hear, but don't listen," said Don Siegel, a hydrology professor at Syracuse University and a shale gas proponent. "The discourse has gotten far too polarized to the point where people just refuse to compromise or even consider the other side of the argument." Many of those both for and against gas drilling have called for policy decisions to be based on sound science and facts. They disagree, however, about what those facts show, or if there's even enough out there to make a determination. "I find it very, very frustrating that there is very little of what I would call peer-reviewed, hard science on either side," said Kevin Millar, a Village of Owego trustee and a member of New York Residents Against Drilling. "I just try to look for what I would consider the most objective, verifiable science on it, and to look for something that isn't skewed by industry or, for lack of a better word, the anti-gas-drilling movement, is hard."

And in case you missed it, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera wrote on Friday that he believes natural gas can be safely exploited, as long as states are cautious about implementing regulation:

The country has been handed an incredible gift with the Marcellus Shale. With an estimated 500 trillion cubic feet of reserves, it is widely believed to be the second-largest natural gas field ever discovered. Which means that those of you who live near this tremendous resource have two choices. You can play the Not-In-My-Backyard card, employing environmental scare tactics to fight attempts to drill for that gas. Or you can embrace the idea that America needs the Marcellus Shale, accept the inconvenience that the drilling will bring, but insist that it be done properly. If you choose this latter path, you will be helping to move the country to a fuel that is — yes — cleaner than oil, while diminishing the strategic importance of the Middle East, where American soldiers continue to die.


The editorial board of the Buffalo News comes out strongly in favor of Buffalo-area state senator George Maziarz's New York Solar Jobs Act.  The bill would create the goal of creating 5,000 megawatts of solar power in New York by 2025:

For example, New Jersey has a goal to achieve more than 5,000 megawatts of new solar capacity by 2026. And it added 137.1 megawatts of new photovoltaic capacity in 2010, more than double New York's entire solar capacity. There are positive signs for the legislation.Maziarzmust ensure that this bill to drive solar energy and create a viable job market does not get watered down. The governor should help bring both sides to the middle. New York should be at the forefront on solar energy. This bill could help push us there.

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