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Wind power educational forum set for today in Cape Vincent

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A group called the New York Wind Education Collaborative will hold a public forum on wind energy development Wednesday in Cape Vincent. Two companies have proposed wind farms in the town, and residents there have been divided for years over the issue. Reporter Joanna Richards spoke with a representative of the group about who's involved, why they're coming to Cape Vincent and what they hope to accomplish with the forum.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

The Cape Vincent forum will be the first in a series of public events throughout the state in communities where wind farms are proposed.

The Collaborative is funded by NYSERDA, the state Energy Development and Research Authority.

Spokesman Brian Smith says the group will offer information about some of the issues surrounding wind farms, like the effects of projects on wildlife and human health.

Smith (0:18): The mission of the organization is not to advocate for or against wind or any particular projects. Um, we were contracted with NYSERDA because we can provide the public with those, with the important facts, with the good information.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding wind energy development has been the effect projects might have on local property values. Smith says this is an understandable concern:

Smith (0:23): But, the decisions we make should be based on real experiences and real studies. And so we wanted to provide an expert speaker to demonstrate how it's worked in other parts of this country. And the most comprehensive study that's been done to date has indicated that there's been no measurable or adverse impact of wind farms on property values.

Speakers will also address the effects of wind farms on the environment. Smith says it's important to consider wind farms in relation to other types of energy development.

Smith (0:27): Every type of energy has an impact. And certainly wind farms do have some adverse impact to the environment. But what we have to do is, we have to put these impacts in perspective, and weigh them against some of the other options, which is often times fossil fuels. So when we weigh the costs versus the benefits, um, I think we see that wind power provides tremendous environmental benefits.

The forum is also an opportunity for the public to get an early read on the impact of New York’s new Article X. Passed this spring, the law gives the state more authority over where power generating projects are sited.

Smith says even with the new law, local communities will still hold sway over how projects are developed. And he says the more meaningful the public participation in that process, the better a project can be.

Smith (0:26): There's a number of issues that communities rightly have concerns about, but again, if we look at the real experiences, the real scientific studies, um, with our experience of wind farms, we can address a lot of these issues. And whether it be protecting the environment, ensuring reliability or property values, these are all the issues that we're going to be discussing at the forum.

The New York Wind Education Collaborative will hold its forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cape Vincent Recreation Park. It is free and open to the public.

For North Country Public Radio, I'm Joanna Richards in Watertown.

OUTRO: The New York Wind Education Collaborative is a project of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Alliance for Clean Energy New York and the PACE Energy and Climate Center.

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