Over the last couple of years there's been a lot of talk about the possibility of massive wind turbines being built in the area. Between Schoharie and Otsego Counties is one of the richest wind environments in the state. Talk about windmills in Cherry Valley has started again, and hopefully this time it will go through. Unfortunately, it was the urbane democrats of the area which killed the discussion before, despite the majority of the town board supporting the wind turbines, along with local republicans.
Which brings us to our area. Near Madison, NY, there are wind farms in Madison and Fenner. In Madison, there are seven wind turbines which generate electricity for thousands of homes. The operators of the turbines also pay for a quarter of the school budget and a significant portion of the town budget. In Fenner, twenty windmills are on local farms, taking up little space and providing even more power for civilian purposes.
In Tug Hill, 195 windmills provide about 2% of New York State's electricity needs, and pay a handsome amount annually to each of the local towns. These windmills are quiet, having been under one-- touching it in fact. This was while the turbine was turning rapidly.
Sure, the windmills are only effective 20% of the time. However, most of the time, they do not require personnel on site. 20% of the time is still impressive, considering that even with this limited capacity, they still provide relatively large amounts of clean energy. Every windmill that is constructed is one less megawatt of power generated from oil or coal. When the windmills are not in service, the rest of the grid is easily able to compensate for the lack of energy. Any excess energy can be fed back into the grid, causing other energy sources to cut back on production.
As a local official, I would welcome and encourage wind farms in the area. Last year I attended a meeting of the Town of Fulton board and threw my support behind Phil Scowfoe's plan for wind turbines. These turbines will be able to pay a large portion of our local taxes through PILOT programs and will also decrease our energy prices. In Cherry Valley, the company which was to run the windmills offered the residents 25% off of their electricity costs, in addition to paying through PILOT programs. The incentives for putting in the windmills will cut our government overhead costs, further benefiting taxpayers. With school costs rising, any windmill benefits would slow or temporarily halt the rise in school taxes.
My family has went out of our way to visit all three windfarms, with Madison being visited probably 10 times. The windmills would become a minor sightseeing site and would bring in a few onlookers a day. Ten people per day in the summer coming from Albany to gawk at the windmills could inject hundreds of dollars per day into our local economy, which alone would be a nice jolt.
Windmills are not perfect. However, they're the closest thing we have to perfect for now.