An energy developer out of Albany is considering building a 32-turbine wind farm on Galloo Island, six miles offshore, on Lake Ontario. But residents in the Jefferson County town of Henderson, on the shores of the lake, say all they would get out of the project is a ruined view.
If you’ve ever visited Henderson you know that the homes along the harbor are big and beautiful, with sweeping views of Lake Ontario. The town is small and quiet.
“Here we are, right here and this is Galloo," says Ronald Peterson, as he points to a map on the wall of his home in Henderson.
"Now this is Wolf Island over here in Canada which has a huge number of turbines and even from here I can see at night some of the lights, but you get used to them,” he says.
Most people here don’t want to look at more blinking red lights on turbines. Hudson Energy Development, the company behind the wind project, says each turbine will be nearly 600 feet tall. According to the Public Service Commission that means they could be seen 15 miles away.
“To put up windmills to the extent that is planned we believe will be an eyesore. It would harm the economy, it would be harmful to our property values. We like the Lake just the way it is,” said John Culkin, the supervisor for the town of Henderson.
In a statement, the man behind the project, Bill Moore, said studies show wind farms don’t decrease property values and generate tax revenues for local communities. Moore convinced farmers in Lowville to accept the Maple Ridge Wind Farm. But Galloo Island is in the town of Hounsfield. Residents in Hounsfield and Sacketts Harbor will see tax revenue from the project. Henderson isn’t entitled to anything.
“I don’t think he really cares about the people or the area, I think he cares about the money," said Bob Dick who runs Moby Dick Fish Charters in Henderson. “There’s no personal touch there. It’s big money trying to do big things.”
Ronald Peterson may be the only Henderson resident in full support of the wind farm. He says incentives or not, all New Yorkers have a responsibility to help the state transition to using renewable energy.
“I think these types of projects are part of the solution to get us away from a carbon based economy. The science to me is in. There really is no reason for me to argue about climate change. It’s happening,” said Peterson.
This summer, Henderson residents agreed to spend $20,000 for a study by Clarkson University to explore the potential impacts of the wind farm. The study should be completed by the end of this year.