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Like it or not, renewables are not going away

Wind and solar projects raise a lot of fear and anxiety in Chautauqua County. These projects, which provide clean, renewable power are designed to mitigate climate change.

These projects offer significant local benefit — but you wouldn’t know it from listening to the strident voices of opposition.

Anti-renewable protesters, underwritten by fossil fuel interests, spread disinformation about the health, safety, and economic issues around wind and solar projects along with deception regarding the new siting process designed to speed these vital projects. Lawsuits are being filed.

Resentment against downstate and Albany is being fomented.

Our state Sen. George Borrello even propagandizes that wind farms will turn our county into an “industrial wasteland.”

An actual industrial wasteland is the now-closed Dunkirk Steam Station that ran on coal for decades spewing dangerous toxic fumes into our air. Now the plant is an ugly blight on the waterfront.

The tax exemptions that renewables projects receive are also being misconstrued. All energy projects, including fossil fuel projects, get tax exemptions as financial incentives because the local economic value of their facilities is considerable. Payments in lieu of taxes — PILOT — means that the wind and solar companies provide payments into our county’s economy rather than paying taxes.

These projects benefit the community by generating jobs in building and maintenance as well as generating income by leasing land. Farmers in Ripley know they can benefit by leasing their low production land to ConnectGen for its proposed solar project. Renewable energy companies are being portrayed as big, scary corporate crony interests that take advantage of rural people. However, EWT is a small company that proposed a 7-megawatt community wind project in Portland that would have provided energy to the town itself.

Take your pick of falsehoods to echo to try to defeat renewable power.

It is indeed our health and our wildlife that is endangered by the effects we already see of climate change. Wildfires have already occurred in the Northeast. We are not immune from climate disaster. Renewable energy projects are part of the solution.

Lisa Mertz is a Mayville resident.

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