Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mixing Mills and Monasteries in Herkimer County

Maintaining silence until now, monks at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Monastery have finally voiced opposition to the proposed Jordanville Wind Farm and its armada of 75 turbines.
"The few-hundred acre spiritual retreat settled where it did because of the area's isolation and beautiful landscape ... said the Rev. Luke Murianka, deputy abbot of the monastery."
In essence, the wind farm is expected to interfere with this particular community's use of its own land . . . making it less conducive to contemplation and meditation. "Community Character" will forever be changed.

Interestingly, some of the commenters on "Story Chat" accuse the monks of being selfish.

"Carole Kowall" paints the monks as outsiders who "came to America
in search of freedom to practice their beliefs," herself as one of those who gave them this chance, and implies that the monks are applying a double standard. Of course, the obvious difference is that the monks' community has been here for years and they will have to either give up their way of life or go elsewhere, leaving behind decades of crafts and tradition. Their community will be disrupted. The wind mill promoters, however, are the real "outsiders" who are not interested in a way of life but in making a profit (with with all sorts of taxpayer subsidies). They could go elsewhere with disruption of only plans.

"Jon Tinsdale" proclaims that "
we all need to go green" and preaches "The monks should realize it is for the betterment of the whole instead of the few that really count." There's that "selfish" accusation again.

Let's look at some facts:

1) The wind farm project is seeking a PILOT and will not build without it. That means that wind power is currently not economically viable without the local taxpayers' granting the promoters special privileges. We already know that certain provisions of state law already require everyone to subsidize these operations with special guaranteed minimum electric rates -- which is one factor in NYS having some of the highest electric rates in the country, making us uncompetitive for jobs.

2) There is no local need for the electric power the wind farm will generate. In fact, the "excess" of electric power upstate is cited as the justification for NYRI.

3) Unlike conventional coal or nuclear power plants, which could potentially be located away from people and screened, this project will have a footprint of FIVE THOUSAND ACRES. That is significantly larger than the stone quarry that "Ms. Kowall" complains about. And while "Mr. Tinsdale" thinks the windmills are "not bad" to look at, the novelty will surely wear off when we are inundated with them. (Refineries look beautiful at night, too, but I wouldn't want to live next to one.)

4) The monks are probably one of the "greenest" communities on the continent regarding the lifestyle that they lead. Why should they be expected to sacrifice that so that someone else in a far off city can indulge their creature comforts with a little less guilt?

"Community Character" is an important factor to be considered when weighing the environmental impact of a project, and whether or not a project should be allowed. The Jordanville Monastery is quite unique in North America and is a local treasure. (See the excellent photo presentation on the OD site). It is one of those things that contributes to the cultural diversity of the entire region. At one time it attracted the famous conductor Rostropovich to reside in the area. Surely, the wind farm will destroy the character of the monastic community at Jordanville. While some may "pooh pooh" visual impacts, such have and can provide the basis for denying a project.

Herkimer County has to make a decision on what is more important to its future: the money that will flow to local government and landowners from the project, or preservation of its character. While windmills will become commonplace, destruction Jordanville's character, once done, will never be replaced.


Freedom Rider said...

There is no requirement for these so-called windmills to be erected in close proximity to this beautiful place of religious freedom.

I too, have driven by the Jordanville Monastery and found it to be quite up-lifting.

NOW, we have so-called entrepreneurs who wish to erect windmills but NOT without the taxpayers subsidizing this project.

I say, to hell with the project UNTIL and ONLY when we have these capitalist thieves start paying their own way.

Granting anyone a PILOT is ridiculous and I would say to these builders...stay the hell out-of-my backyard.

KEEP religious beauty alive and well in Jordanville.

Environmentalist said...

I would like to know who the "investors" are who are desirous of putting up wind driven propellers which will generate (?) excess electricity that must be sold back to the electric utility - at a reduced price?!

Adding insult to injury...these investors too, want a "PILOT - [PAYMENT IN LIEU OF TAXES]" to underwrite their costs.

Well, my response to these so-called "do-gooders" would be, "PUT UP or SHUT UP!"

How long are these greed mongers going to feed from the public trough, make money and give nothing back to the community.

This whole deal smells like sh*t to me and thinking of sh*t...I think we could get more out of the "hot air" that these type of investors spout off.

I would think that leaving the Jordanville Monastery in tact and free from wind driven props is more economical and gratifying to one's line of sight.

Do the right thing...leave these people to prosper in an area that has been good to them and the community for decades.


Anonymous said...

Most of these comments seem to be hosting the same kind of misinformation the Monastery seems to have. The nearest turbine to the Monastery is a mile away. It is not like they will be surrounded by the turbines either. the monastery is on the far edge of the project.

The monastery will not suffer from sound issues as the turbines at that kind of distance will be completely silent. (not that they're loud to begin with)

and this talk about taxpayer subsidy is ludicrous. renewable energy in new york - be it wind, solar or otherwise, is TAX EXEMPT. A PILOT replaces that tax exemption with a means for municipalities to get (a handsome sum of) money. This PILOT money is new money, meaning that it isn't replacing a previous source of income. Furthermore, the project does not use tax money to operate (it is not a tax burden) so the PILOT payments will be a NET GAIN.

While a grassroots approach to environmental progress is very good, this attitude that corporations shouldn't be making money from green practices, is the exact type of attitude that ensures that green technologies remain alternative, not mainstream, and less effective. Corporations aren't going away, so we should encourage them to get involved in environmentally responsible practices if we want to see real change.

Strikeslip said...

Here is a link to before and "after" photos of what the windmills will look like from the Monastery (Viewpoint 43-a). Unfortunately, there is no photo showing the monastery itself to put things into perspective. As can be easily seen, whatever the separation is between the monastery and the mills, it is not enough to minimize the windmills' intrusion into the landscape. This cannot be called "mis-information" because the pictures come from the project's proponents.

Any tax exemption mentioned is still a subsidy by tax payers. Yes, there will be new money coming into Herkimer County governments -- but not as much as should be taken in based on the values of the structures to be built.

Herkimer County must decide which is more important: this new money, or degradation of the quality of some of its residents' lives.