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More opposition to Lighthouse Wind project emerges

Two Niagara and Orleans county town governments have opposed it and now a coalition of 12 groups has come together to oppose the Lighthouse Wind project proposed near Lake Ontario’s waterfront in the towns of Yates and Somerset.

The project is a development of Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Va., which has successfully launched wind power projects in New York’s North Country and Maine. The Lighthouse project would involve about 50 windmills, generating a total of 200 megawatts of power, or enough for 53,000 homes.

The POWER Coalition (Protecting Lake Ontario’s Waterfront, Environment and Resources) announced its opposition Thursday (Feb. 22), based on concerns such as bird migration that passes through the area, impacts on tourism and waterfront revitalization, disruptions to hunting and fishing, increases in noise, and potential interference with the nearby Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

“We are in favor of renewable energy, but the Lighthouse Wind project does not meet our standards,” said Shawn Graff, vice president, Great Lakes Region, American Bird Conservancy, on the POWER Coalition’s members. “The American Bird Conservancy believes that the proximity to the lake shore makes this project toxic for migrating birds, bats and raptors and this alone should be enough to stop the project. There are several environmental organizations who agree.”

Other groups in the coalition are:

  • Braddock Bay Bird Observatory
  • Burroughs Audubon Nature Club
  • Federation of Monroe County Environmentalists
  • Genesee Valley Audubon Society
  • Great Lakes Seaway Trail
  • Hawk Migration Association of North America
  • New York State Ornithological Association
  • Niagara USA Chamber
  • Orleans County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs
  • Rochester Birding Association
  • Save Ontario Shores, Inc.

“Industrial wind projects need to be carefully sited. This project is not. We are calling on Apex to withdraw their proposal,” Graff said.

Taylor Quarles, development manager for Lighthouse Wind, responded with a written statement saying, “The project specifics listed in the group’s press release are not accurate nor are its characterizations of impacts. Wind energy is one of the cleanest, cheapest, and most environmentally friendly forms of new generation available. We look forward to releasing a study layout for Lighthouse which will undergo intense evaluation through the article 10 process regarding environmental, wildlife, health, visual, airspace, and numerous other topic areas.”

Quarles noted that more than 100 landowners have signed on. The project would pay a total of approximately $1 million in annual lease payments to the landowners, $1.5 million a year to the towns in property taxes, and create 10 full-time jobs.

Quarles’ statement also noted that Apex has worked with the military to avoid any impacts on the Air Force base and has even located projects on bases before.

Both the town of Yates, in Orleans County, and town of Somerset, in Niagara County, recently changed regulations in their towns to require any wind structures be set back from shorelines by at least three miles.

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