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Offshore wind could be off the table, fracking protests in Albany

Courtesy photo
New York Power Authority chair Michael Townsend (right), pictured here with former Governor David Paterson (center) and current NYPA president Richard Kessel (left), is expressing doubts about wind power in the Great Lakes.

The chair of the New York Power Authority is expressing doubts about plans - by his own agency - to site wind turbines in the Great Lakes.  The Democrat and Chronicle's Steve Orr reports that Michael Townsend expects to be heading out of the authority when his term expires this month - so he's taking the opportunity to be candid:

[Townsend] noted that authority President Richard Kessel, a champion of the offshore idea, had said offshore turbines would not be built where they're not wanted. County lawmakers in seven of the nine shoreline counties, including Monroe, have voted to express opposition to the plan for aesthetic, environmental and other reasons. "We're not being welcomed," Townsend said. He also said the project might be financially burdensome. Kessel had said the authority would support an offshore wind farm by signing a long-term power purchase agreement on terms favorable to its private development. But Townsend said the authority, which generates or purchases electricity for hundreds of business, government and other customers, might be "spread too thin" financially to sign an expensive agreement. That's especially true, he said, if the authority finalizes a costly purchase agreement to support construction of a huge transmission line under the Hudson River to carry power to New York City.


Environmental protestors descended on Albany again yesterday, this time forcing the Capitol to lockdown the governor's office, reports Jimmy Vielkind at Capitol Confidential.  The protestors are calling for the governor to ban hydrofracking in New York State - here's some video from the protest.

Fracking opinion

The Buffalo News editorial board is urging caution about hydrofracking:

The question is, how does the value of the energy source match up against the risk of producing it? That is the question that has yet to be answered by a reliable, neutral source. Until there is an answer, the Pennsylvania accident -- and it's not the first -- strongly suggests the value of waiting. Not ruling it out, but not jumping in, either. Just waiting for some facts and some proposals. In that, there seems little risk.

And G. Jeffery Aaron, business columnist at the Elmira Star-Gazette, writes that New York should be looking very carefully at Pennsylvania as it proceeds to the end of a moratorium on hydrofracking:

I raise the issues above to highlight the fact that all that glitters isn't always gold. I welcome the economic boost that would come our way if [New York Department of Environmental Conservation] DEC allows the combination of horizontal drilling and fracking in New York. Heck, it seems like I'm meeting more and more people each week who have one of those high-paying jobs on the rigs and places like Schlumberger or TMT Gravel in Millerton. But somewhere along the line, we are all going to take a good look inside ourselves -- and across the border-- and decide when the risks of fracking are starting to outweigh the rewards.

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