Dissent in the air: Hanover stands against turbines in Lake Erie

OBSERVER Photos by Braden Carmen David Adrian, an aquatic biologist, is the Vice President of Citizens Against Turbines in Lake Erie (CAWTILE). He spoke to the Hanover Town Board at a recent meeting on the harm wind turbines could cause if placed in the lake.

HANOVER — The Town Board recently took a popular stance on an issue that has caught the attention of municipalities across Western New York. But in Hanover specifically, Town Board member Aimee Rogers highlighted the timing of the Board’s decision to issue a resolution opposing the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie.

The Board unanimously passed a resolution against the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie last month at a regular meeting of the Town Board, which coincidentally fell on Earth Day this year.

“I appreciate the Board doing the resolution on those windmills, and I especially appreciate it on Earth Day. I mean, what a better day to sign it,” Rogers said.

The Board came to the decision after a detailed presentation from Citizens Against Turbines in Lake Erie (CAWTILE) Vice President David Adrian, an aquatic biologist.

Adrian noted that multiple New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) Boards spanning more than a decade have evaluated the idea of placing wind turbines in Lake Erie.

Hanover Deputy Supervisor Bernie Feldmann, Jr., listened to a presentation by David Adrian, an aquatic biologist, opposing the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie.

“We’ve been at this for 14 years, looking at the potential impacts of wind turbines in Lake Erie,” Adrian said.

Adrian said that the idea was initially shot down more than a decade ago, then was revived 10 years later. As the reevaluation did not completely shut down the idea, State Sen. Pete Harckham, a Westchester County Democrat, proposed a bill at the State level last year calling for the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie to support the State’s initiative toward zero-emission electricity and decarbonization.

The bill, listed as 2023-S7035, states, “In March 2023, the Biden White House announced its ambitious goal of harnessing the power of the Great Lakes. Without the wind resources of the Great Lakes, the United States will never meet its climate goals nor sever reliance on other countries’ traditional fossil fuel production. This legislation developed as a direct result of that goal.”

The goals are geared toward the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which claims to be “protecting our State’s natural resources, creating economic opportunities, and ensuring a brighter future for us all.”

Among many issues he noted, Adrian believes the financial cost of constructing and maintaining wind turbines in Lake Erie will be passed on to the consumers. He stated through calculations his organization has conducted, the cost per megawatt hour will be close to $135 per hour, rather than approximately $20 per hour where it stands now. He called the cost “ridiculous.”

The official resolution passed by the Town highlighted “questions concerning offshore wind energy facilities in fresh water bodies remain unanswered such as those which were not included in the NYSERDA reports of 2011 and 2022” as part of the Town’s reasoning to oppose wind turbines in Lake Erie.

Rogers highlighted health concerns and the impact on local businesses “that rely on a beautiful lake” among the reasons she opposed the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie. She referred to turbines as “those red lights flashing on our hillside that are right behind my house.”

Among the many reasons offered during the presentation to oppose wind turbine placement in Lake Erie, Adrian noted his “main concern” is disturbing the status of the lake and the sediments below the surface.

As an aquatic biologist, Adrian spoke to how zebra mussels filtered the waters of Lake Erie in the past. In doing so, the harmful materials in the waters were concentrated at the bottom of the lake. Adrian cited studies that show the sediments at the bottom of the lake have a higher level of contamination than during the industrial era. By disturbing the sediments at the bottom of the lake, the water will become greatly contaminated. Adrian cited that more than 11 million people consume water from Lake Erie.

Adrian also highlighted that the water can also become polluted from microplastics that are deposited into the lake from the blades of the wind turbine wearing down over time. Adrian claimed that studies in Europe showed a direct correlation to an increase in birth defects and a decrease in fertility rates for residents living near water sources polluted by microplastics that could have come from wind turbines. Adrian claims blood samples from people in those impacted areas showed microplastics were present in their bloodstream.

“There is a perfect example of what it could do,” Adrian said. He claimed that the turbines could shed approximately six pounds of material through the process of leading edge erosion.

Adrian noted that CAWTILE has been urging municipalities across western New York to pass similar resolutions in opposition to the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie. After Hanover passed its resolution, nearly 20 municipalities across Chautauqua and Erie counties have put their opposition on record. Adrian stated members of CAWTILE hope to present the resolutions to Gov. Kathy Hochul directly to ask for a permanent ban on wind turbines in Lake Erie.

Chautauqua County Legislator Tom Harmon thanked Adrian for the “outstanding” presentation, then thanked the Board for passing the resolution. “I think it’s important. This is going to be a tough one to crack … it’s going to take everybody’s voice,” Harmon said.


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