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State study looks at putting wind turbines in the Great Lakes, seeking public comment

Posted at 11:54 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 23:54:14-04

OLCOTT, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York has a zero emission electricity goal by 2040. The state Public Service Commission has asked NYSERDA to look at the feasability of putting wind turbines in Lakes Erie and Ontario.

NYSERDA said the study looks at weather, economic development opportunities, cost and power production estimates.

“How could this resource help build grid resilience and diversified resources, again, in a way that is cost effective and responsible for development,” said Principal Engineer for Offshore Winds at NYSERDA, Adrienne Downey.

Lake Ontario is Brenda Pichey's backyard. She's enjoyed the view from Olcott Beach for more than 40 years, and said wind turbines would not ruin it.

"I like watching them because I go down the Southern Tier and they're all over down there, and I just am so fascinated with them," Pichey said.

Her friend Cynthia Weeks said if the windmills are far out and don't harm wildlife or the tourism industry than she's on board.

Some visitors to Olcott Beach, like Joe Fell, are concerned about the view if windmills were put on Lake Ontario.

“You specifically come out here to see the sunset, or you see the boats go out, the last thing you want to see on the horizon on the lake is a bunch of windmills turning," Fell said. "They're just, in my opinion not very good to look at.”

Downey said there's no potential location or number of windmills right now, and that those components are part of the feasibility study.

NYSERDA held a public feedback session Wednesday evening. Comments and questions can be sent throughout the year to NYSERDA said comments from Wednesday evening, and comments in writing over the next seven days, will be part of a summary report that informs the next steps of the study.

More information from NYSERDA can be found here.

Downey said a draft of the study is expected to be available by the end of the year, followed by public comment.

Turbines turn wind into electricity, which can cut our carbon footprint. The Department of Energy said towers are on average 300 ft. tall, with blades that can be more than 190 ft. tall.

State Senator George Borrello of Jamestown introduced a bill to place a moratorium on construction of wind turbines in any body of fresh water, which includes Lakes Erie and Ontario. Right now the bill is in committee, and is not scheduled to come up for a vote.