Borrello Blasts Taller Wind Turbines As Negative To The County

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello is against the taller wind turbine projects in the county and says they will likely be rejected in the future if the County Industrial Development Agency follows the County Legislature’s advice.
“As you are probably well aware, I’m opposed to these wind turbines myself. I think they have a net negative impact on our economy and I don’t like the circumstances which bring them here to Chautauqua County, which is the fact that they’re subsidized, and the only profit in these things is government subsidy and these companies, that are largely Wall Street LLCs set up for that sole purpose of that guaranteed return from the taxpayers, they’re really not in the renewable energy business, they’re in the taxpayer subsidy business,” Borrello said.
He said the Town of Hanover Board rejected the changes to the Ball Hill Project by a 5-0 vote Monday.
“The Town of Hanover voted unanimously to reject the height increase, 5 to nothing,  so I’m glad the people are starting to wake up to this and we’ve already taken steps at the county to try to limit what we will offer in incentives so that these large industrial projects are not happening on the backs of the local taxpayers,” he said.
Borrello said he is doing all he can to spread the word that he does not think these projects are good for the county.
“I’ve certainly done everything I can to shed light on the realities of this and I did ask the IDA to review the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) and I attended today’s IDA board meeting. They did confer with their legal consultants and they reviewed it and they said the PILOT that is already in place is based solely on the maximum amount of power output, which is 100 megawatts, even though there’s a change in the height, there’d be no fundamental change  in the project,” he said.
“I did vote against the PILOT when I was a member of the IDA Board and I will continue to oppose them because they will have a net negative impact on our economy and quality of life in Chautauqua County,” he said.
Chautauqua County took steps to limit the IDA to only approving PILOT projects that are 5 megawatts of less, and Cattaraugus County recently followed suit.
He took issue with RES, the company behind the Ball Hill Project, questioning their proposed changes.
“They (RES) had this project in the works for several years now with 495 wind turbines. There’s a total of 24 windmills at the Ball Hill project. RES, the company that’s doing these projects, after years of doing their due diligence, came in at the 11th hour saying this project is not going to be financially feasible if we don’t go from 495 feet to 599 feet,” Borrello said. “The interesting thing about that is they’re all saying now this doesn’t make financial sense even though they’ve had the project on the drawing board for years. But, on top of that, 599 feet is an unprecedented height on land in the United States, there isn’t a single turbine of that height in the United States on land.”
He called the proposed height increase a “Hail Mary pass.”
“So what they’re saying now is our project is only financially feasible if we try to do something that’s never been done before in the United States, which to me is outrageous, and is grounds to reject that height increase. Why would you want to go into business with a company that’s been doing due diligence for years, had a business plan that they told you was a solid business plan, and a profitable business plan, with turbines at 495 feet and now they’re saying that’s not going to work and they’re trying to throw some Hail Mary pass, which to me is disturbing that the Town of Villanova would accept that,” he said.
He also questioned the Town of Villanova’s practice in how it handled the vote to approve the project changes.
“The county planning board rejected the height increase which then required the towns to have a super majority, 4 of 5, in order to approve his change in height and Villanova did not have enough and they had a member of the town board who was opposed to the height increase resign and the  supervisor appointed someone he knew was in favor so that was a questionable practice, to say the least,” Borrello said.
He said the Ball Hill Project will go forward with two different heights, shorter turbines in Hanover and taller turbines in Villanova.
Future windmill turbine project as big as Ball Hill will likely not be approved in the future, Borrello noted.
“Projects of this magnitude would come before the IDA board for a PILOT and should be rejected if they follow the instructions given to them by the county legislature because of the size of it,” Borrello said. “What the IDA did not want to do, and I agree with it, was to shut the door completely because there are small wind projects that power individual farms and homes and businesses that are practical. They’re not disruptive, they don’t require massive interconnects to the grid.”