HAMBURG, N.Y. — Western New York may have wind turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline and in Wyoming County but some are worried a new area could be on the horizon.
Lake Erie and Lake Ontario themselves.
The pushback comes just as the New York State Energy Research And Development Authority or NYSERDA is set to release their findings from a Great Lakes Wind Feasibility study sometime this spring. The study looked at creating offshore wind farms along Lake Erie from Buffalo to Dunkirk and in Lake Ontario.
There is not a green-lit project at this time, but the possibility of having turbines a couple of miles offshore has sparked concern.
Over two dozen people gathered to protest along Route 5 in Hamburg Wednesday. The group carried signs that said, “Just Say NO in Lake Erie” and pictured a wind turbine with a red line through it. Wind energy is proven to be a cleaner and more renewable source of energy than fossil fuels.
Several people 2 On Your Side spoke to said they are worried about the impact wind farms could have on wildlife and recreation on the lake. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has documented turbine-related deaths of birds and bats but cats, buildings, and cars have reportedly caused far more bird deaths according to several ecology groups.
“I don't think it's going to be something that moves very quickly, we've understood that our voice was heard in Albany and we expect some announcement fairly soon that this is something that gets pushed off,” said David Adrian a charter boat captain.
“This is an issue that spans all of the lake. It's not just here in Hamburg, it goes down to Dunkirk and Cleveland and there are many many groups that are fighting it together to stop it for the whole lake,” Patricia Meckes said.
Last week, Congressman Chris Jacobs was in Hamburg to announce that he would introduce legislation aimed at blocking any wind farm development on the great lakes from receiving federal tax credits.
A group in Cleveland is fighting their own wind farm project called ‘Icebreaker.' The proposed six-turbine development would be the first freshwater wind farm in North America. It is currently tied up in the Ohio court system, however.
An NYSERDA spokesperson responded Friday to 2 On Your Side's request for comment on the wind study, “the Great Lakes Wind Feasibility Study is nearing its draft completion after a careful and thorough review of the supporting, technical reporting. We anticipate the Study being final this summer and will communicate its public release via email and the NYSERDA website.”