Right now, local media and politicians are worried about reduced federal funding for protecting Lake Erie from pollution, like agricultural runoff which threatens our drinking water and contributes to toxic algae blooms. What no one is reporting, is a bill just introduced in the PA legislature to lease up to 10,000 acres of the Lake Erie lake bed in Erie County for building a utility scale industrial wind turbine facility.
How many turbines are we talking about?
This bill defines utility scale as over 500 megawatts which means a minimum of 166 wind turbines based on an average of 3 megawatts each, but would likely mean hundreds more, perhaps in excess of 1000 turbines. Think about that.
We wrote about a pending wind turbine project off of Cleveland, Ohio a few years ago, and it hasn’t gone away, in fact it’s advancing through a long process of approvals and is nearing a vote by the Ohio Power Siting Board. If you don’t remember what this project is about, it’s called Icebreaker and will begin with 6 turbines in the lake off of Cleveland as a demonstration to prove that it works, followed by an eastward expansion through the waters of Ohio with up to 1600 turbines in all and now, with this pending legislation in Pennsylvania, introduced by Representative Curt Sonney, this could expand into our waters with perhaps 1000 turbines or more.
Is this a good idea when we’re concerned about Lake Erie pollution?
It’s interesting that this is happening while all eyes and attention are on decreased federal funds to protect Lake Erie without any attention focused on the potential for pollution from constructing an enormous wind installation that entails setting many hundreds of turbines into the lake bed and trenching for the power cables to connect them all and bring the power to shore, not to mention whatever else may contaminate the lake during the entire construction process and ongoing operation over the years. Of course, maybe this is the perfect time to introduce this bill, when everyone’s attention is elsewhere.
Why isn’t anyone, including Curt Sonney, talking about this?
It’s also odd that a bill of this magnitude that would affect so many of us in Erie County and sponsored by Curt Sonney, is entirely absent from any mention on his web site. He has a lot of links referencing his support for job training and education, but absolutely nothing about this bill or his bill about placing wind turbines on farmland preservation areas. There’s nothing on his Facebook page, either. Maybe he doesn’t want anyone to know what he’s doing. This is the kind of thing that happens under the radar when no one is looking and once it becomes law it’s very hard to change and wind developers like this sort of legislation, a lot.
Well, what are our legislators doing?
Our representatives and senators at the state level are often out of sight and out of mind. Ask the average Erie County voter what their Pennsylvania representative or senator is up to and you’re likely to get a shrug of the shoulders or an “I don’t know.” In fact, many don’t know who these people are to begin with. Some of our state legislators like it that way, but it’s not good for you, me and every other taxpayer and voter in Erie County. Let’s start watching them more closely, a LOT more closely.
What can you do?
How about this? Read the previous article on the wind turbines offshore in Lake Erie to get a better idea of what is going on. Then read House Bill 685 just submitted on March 1st of this year to see what Curt Sonney has proposed right now. You might also read the previous article about wind turbines on preserved farmland, another bill most everyone has missed.
Think about what this means, dig deeper if you have questions, and if you think this might be a problem, let Curt Sonney know what you think. Let your friends know what’s going on, too. Don’t let this sort of legislation pass without a vigorous public discussion and make sure your state representatives know you’re watching. Sunshine makes everything better, don’t you think?