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Source: YNN Buffalo

Informational meeting on offshore wind farm

The debate over a proposed offshore wind farm on Lake Erie blew into the Erie County Legislature Wednesday. As YNNís Kevin Jolly reports, environmentalists and residents are split over the proposal.

BY KEVIN JOLLY

Posted: June 10, 2010
Originally Published: June 9, 2010

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- More than a dozen people gathered outside the Erie County Courthouse Wednesday to show their support for a proposal to build a massive ten square mile offshore wind farm in Lake Erie.

"The benefits of an offshore wind power project are numerous including economic development and job creation benefits. It’s clean and emission free, domestic and helping with energy independence. It helps to combat climate change and requires zero fuel cost," said Brian Smith of the WNY Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

Just last week, the New York State Power Authority announced its reviewing proposals from five contractors to build the offshore wind farm. This week residents got a chance to learn more about the project at this informational meeting sponsored by County Legislator Daniel Kozub, (D) Hamburg.

"How would you like to be out there looking at the windmills versus a nice beautiful sunset or trying to catch it between the blades," said Kozub. "So right now we want to figure out what's the facts and what the fictions and everything in between."

Those who support the project say it could be just the economic boost the area needs, creating hundreds of jobs and providing power for hundreds of thousands of residents. But those who oppose the project fear it could have a negative impact on the environment.

"You can do any environmental impact study you want and I'm sure BP did it for the Gulf, but we're not talking about the birds and the musks and your seafood. We’re talking about you we’re talking about me we're talking about our fresh water," said Lackawanna resident Diana Zozak.

And the people who opposed to these wind turbines say instead of building them in the middle of Lake Erie why not build them on shore like those in Lackawanna.

"No one is opposed to wind energy. What we are opposed to is them putting it in the lake. Put them on land where they can be monitored. That way we know what’s going on," said Dick Smith.

But NYPA officials say the wind farm is far from a done deal. If approved it could be at least five years before the first turbine goes up.