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Jefferson County officials oppose offshore wind in Lake Ontario

A group of Jefferson County legislators has for the second time in two years expressed opposition to offshore wind turbines in Lake Ontario. Almost two years ago, the New York Power Authority proposed an offshore wind turbine project, which Jefferson County rejected. Now the county may move to oppose federal overtures in that direction. 

New York is one of several states that has an agreement with a consortium of federal agencies that aims to expedite the review process for putting wind turbines in the Great Lakes. The county Legislature's Planning and Development Committee voted Tuesday night to recommend that the full Legislature pass a resolution opposing that agreement.

"Primarily, we're getting a jump on this thing before it picks up much more momentum," said Barry Ormsby, chairman of the committee."Our primary point is, is that we don't need themem sitting on our lakefront – that's one of our primary industries here in the county, which is tourism."

Ormsby says the county's concerns include lakefront property values, the potential problems with locating transmission lines and the impact turbines could have on vistas that attract tourists to the area. He hopes a symbolic resolution by the Legislature will send a clear message to the federal government that Jefferson County doesn't want the turbines in Lake Ontario.

"It doesn't make any more sense with their backing than it did with NYPA's efforts to move forward," he said. "It's going to have the same negative impact on our shoreline, on the tourism trade, boating, the fishing, the sailing, access to the ports – I mean, there's nothing positive about it."

Ormsby isn't keen on wind power in general, but he says that debate is for another day. What's important now, he says, is protecting the county from outside interests that could harm local businesses and the tax base.