County legislature’s support sought in petition to NYS Senate Energy Committee

MAYVILLE — Several local residents have taken notice of the state’s lack of verification that carbon dioxide emissions are mitigated by the use of renewable energy, such as wind turbines and solar power, and they are committed to making their concerns heard.

These residents have written a petition to State Senator Kevin Parker, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, in order to hold the state accountable for the health of the environment and its citizens. The petition also serves as a reminder to members of the county legislature of their similar responsibilities at the local level≥

According to Dr. Mark Twichell, “I will be presenting this petition to the Chautauqua County Legislature at their Dec. 19 meeting in Mayville in an effort to gain their support, either as a proclamation or as individual legislators.”

He and Michelle Twichell of Fredonia, Earl and Joni Riggle of Sinclairville, and Karen Engstrom of Mayville have signed the petition out of concern that the state’s support of renewable energy lacks any kind of verification that fossil fuel emissions are actually being lowered.

In particular, they are objecting to the committee’s Clean Energy Standard, which “requires that 50 percent of New York’s electricity come from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by 2030, with a progressive phase-in schedule starting in 2017,” according to New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Although alternatives to fossil fuel are important, the petition states, “The Clean Energy Standard (CES) does not contain necessary language specific and adequate to the accountability of the wind and solar industries for our continued unquestioned support in both dollars and public trust.” It continues to explain that renewable energy industries are not required by the state to show that integration with the power grid actually results in reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

While the goal of the CES is to reduce the use of fossil fuels such as coal, many studies have noted a significant use of coal ash as a filler in concrete mixes that are poured during the construction of wind turbines. According to John Droz, Jr., a physicist from Lewis County, New York, it takes two million pounds of concrete to fill the 50-feet hole that is typical of a turbine base. The amount of carbon dioxide associate with turbine manufacturing and installation, as well as the manufacturing of concrete and its transportation to wind turbine sites, has led many to question wind energy’s effectiveness at reducing carbon emissions.

Many county residents are already or soon to be affected by wind energy, but the petition reminds the committee of the larger scope of their actions: “All New York State residents have concerns related to their support of the mandate through their taxes and electricity rate payments. Also, all New Yorkers deserve to know that their support of renewable energy pro The petition further questions the rationale behind the CES, which is “designed to fight climate change, reduce harmful air pollution, and ensure a diverse and reliable low carbon energy supply.” Because the renewable energy companies are not required to show evidence of their effectiveness, this may prevent other low-carbon generating technologies from being considered. The petition also states that as a mandate, “…the CES is undemocratic and violates free market principles.”

The petition concludes by asking Parker to conduct a hearing to amend the language of the CES to require renewable energy companies to provide stakeholders with data as to how much carbon dioxide is removed from the state’s power gird as a result of the project’s operation. The petition adds, “We also request adoption of language specific to adequate protection for the health, safety and welfare of citizens and their environment directly impacted by development of renewable energy.”

According to Twichell, the petition is also being shared with many concerned communities and citizens groups statewide. “The intent of this petition is to focus attention on Albany following many expressions of concern and legislation at township and county levels,” Twichell explained.

He invites others to email letters of support to NYS Senator Kevin Parker, Chairperson Senate Energy Committee, Parker@nysenate.gov and NYS Senator Joe Griffo, Minority Head Senate Energy Committee, griffo@nysenate.gov.

The Chautauqua County Legislature meets on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 6:30 p.m. in the third floor legislative chambers of the Gerace Office Building, 3 N. Erie St. in Mayville.

Reporter’s note: Although the petition is addressed to “New York State Senator Kevin Parker Chair, Senate Energy Committee,” it should be noted that Senator Joseph Griffo (R) is the chair of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee, and Parker is a ranking member of that committee.

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