Wind generated energy. Is it a good idea?
As North East township supervisors weigh the options about a wind farm in their own back yard, Elizabeth D'Aurora traveled across the state line into New York to see how 75 wind turbines fit into one community there.
Tonight she takes us to Sheldon, New York in this Target 24 report.
The town of Sheldon, New York is a farming community about 115 miles east of Erie.
In July 2001, the township was first approached by Invenergy to erect wind turbines in their community.
Eight years later in March 2009, 75 turbines went into energy production.
John Knab, town of Sheldon supervisor, says: "There's 38 land owners that the windmills are cited on. There's anywhere from one to any one land owner holds on their property is six. They're paid twice a year for windmills, it's somewhere in the 8 to 9 thousand dollar price range."
Elizabeth D'Aurora, yourerie.Com, says: "It's not just property owners who have windmills on their property who are bennefitting, officials say the entire community is seeing the reward."
John Knab, "Yearly payments to the town and land owners has brought about 7 million dollars into the county in 5 years."
In those five years, the town did not raise taxes because of the yearly payments.
Kenneth Martin has lived in Sheldon since 1961. He sees no downside to having windmills in his backyard.
Kenneth Martin says: "Some say "Oh they're ugly looking things.' What's so ugly about them? They're just like another tree except they don't have green branches."
Although supervisor Knab says the turbines are the best thing that's happened to the township, the CEO of the North American Platform Against Wind Power says several studies prove turbines aren't as beneficial as people believe.
She says they're not producing the amount of energy people think they are.
"In the whole world, they're producing less than half of one percent of the work power despite approximately 140,000 turbines. They're huge industrial machines fueled by oil and gas, transported using oil and gas and contain up to a thousand gallons or more of oil as lubricants in moving parts. They do catch fire and there's zero fire regulations."
Lange says these turbines also present risk to wildlife, including birds and bats.
Lange, "In America, it kills 37 to 42 million birds and bats per year, so it's a chopping machine. So anyone who really and truly cares about the environment is not going to embrace wind, that's for sure."
On the other side of the argument, Victoria Pebbles from the Great Lakes Commission says these turbines are a great source of energy from a natural resource.
Victoria Peebles, Great Lakes Commission, says: "You don't need to mind the wind. It just exists naturally, no risk of spilling wind. No air emissions for green house gases and it also offers an opportunity to support jobs and manufacturing, which are important to the economy."
Knab still believes the windmills have been great for the town of Sheldon, creating a boom when the farmers needed it most.
John Knab, "I know at the time when the landowners got their first checks, was about the first time milk prices bottomed out all together. The dairy farmers were really huting and this was a real boost."
In Sheldon, New York, Elizabeth D'Aurora, Jet24 Action News.
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