Frequently Asked Questions

GALLOO ISLAND WIND

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

1. What will happen to birds when the turbines go up?

Apex Clean Energy works to avoid or minimize any potential impact to avian species in the project area. As a result of baseline studies and resulting coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Apex is able to make adjustments to wind farm design and facilities to minimize potential for impacts. Birds do occasionally collide with turbine blades, but developers, including Apex, thoroughly evaluate risks before projects are sited to ensure no significantly adverse effects occur to local or regional bird populations. Apex also monitors impacts during operations to confirm the effectiveness of avoidance measures and determine if adaptive management is needed to address unforeseen circumstances.

2. Will the change in the viewshed affect tourism in the surrounding areas?

Other wind farms have not been shown to have a negative impact on tourism. In fact, in some cases they have created an entirely new market for tourists. Some people go out of their way to find wind farms, snap pictures, and get a glimpse of homegrown, clean American energy.

3. How will this project affect the property values of homes and cottages in the surrounding areas?

There have been seven peer-reviewed studies evaluating a total of more than 250,000 individual properties that show no statistically significant impact from proximity to wind turbines.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) completed an extensive study of more than 50,000 home sales near 67 wind facilities across the country, and was unable to uncover any impact to property transactions.

“… The core results of our analysis consistently show no sizable statistically significant impact of wind turbines on nearby property values.”

               —2013 Study by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory

4. Are wind turbines loud?

The sound of wind turbine blades passing through the air is often described as a “whoosh.” If properly constructed at approved setback distances, the sound does not result in any health concerns. Scientific evidence suggests that this sound is not detrimental and that any low-frequency waves produced are not harmful to those nearby. Infrasound from Galloo Island Wind will be similar in magnitude to waves on a beach but weaker than highway traffic, air conditioners, and other common exposures.

Scientific evidence indicates this sound is safe.

“The weight of the evidence suggests no association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems.”
               —Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel”

“To date, no peer reviewed scientific journal articles demonstrate a causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise (audible, low frequency noise, or infrasound) they emit and resulting physiological health effects.”

               —Knopper and Ollson, “Health Effects and Wind Turbines: A Review of the Literature”

“The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms…is well below the level where known health effects occur, and there is no accepted physiological mechanism where sub-audible infrasound could cause health effects.”

               —Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, “Wind Turbines and Health”

The best way to understand wind turbine sound is to experience it firsthand. We encourage everyone to visit one of the more than 20 wind farms across New York State. The closest turbines can be found on Wolfe Island. From the river’s edge in Cape Vincent, the closest turbines are about two miles away, about one-third the distance the Galloo turbines would be from the nearest mainland location (six miles). Also nearby are the turbines in Lowville, New York.

5. Are the flashing red lights on the turbines visible at night? If so, how will they affect those trying to navigate Lake Ontario at night?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires structures greater than 200 feet in height to be lit at night with a flashing red light. If a wind farm has many turbines, not all structures are required to be lit. The lights at Wolf Island provide a good example of this lighting, although Galloo Island Wind would have substantially fewer towers. New technology, recently reviewed by the FAA, activates lights only when an airplane is in the vicinity of the project. Otherwise the lights remain off. Suitability of this technology is dependent on site conditions and needs to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It may be possible to deploy this technology at Galloo. 

6. Will the project create a problem for FAA or Department of Defense (DOD) radar systems?

The FAA and DOD both have extensive review processes to ensure that proposed wind projects do not affect radar system operation. The Galloo Island Wind project underwent a preliminary review by the FAA and the DOD. At that point in the permitting process, all wind projects must address any potential issues that are brought up before moving forward. Nothing was flagged in this preliminary review.

7. How will this project affect Fort Drum?

This project is more than 35 miles away from Fort Drum radar and the project is very low on the horizon from Fort Drum. The project is out of civil and military air space as well.

Galloo Island Wind underwent a review by the DoD Siting Clearinghouse, and the DoD did not flag anything in this preliminary review. The project will have to clear further review as project moves forward.

8. What will happen to the historic Galloo Island Lighthouse?

The Galloo Island Lighthouse is privately owned and has not been used or maintained for many years. Future plans for the lighthouse are up to the owners of the lighthouse.

9. Are industrial wind turbines a reliable source of electricity?

While wind is not consistent, it is predictable. Electric grid managers ensure that electricity is available for consumers at all times. Meteorology has become accurate enough to give grid managers ample warning to integrate wind energy into their system. Because wind energy’s “fuel” (the wind) is free, grid operators use available wind power first, displacing the most expensive (and typically most polluting) power plants. Wind energy and natural gas complement each other well, because natural gas “peaking” plants can come online quickly and cheaply when wind energy production is low.

10. Will Henderson see any benefits from the project, or just Hounsfield?

Galloo Island Wind is a regional win for all the surrounding localities. Any revenue accruing to Jefferson County benefits all towns within Jefferson County. Some temporary and long-term jobs may be available to Henderson residents and service revenue to area businesses may accrue, particularly during the construction process. Henderson will see benefits stemming from the project, including increased job opportunities and potential for further economic development. Wind technician is the fastest growing job in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and bringing those jobs into the region means bringing a rapidly expanding opportunity. In addition to creating jobs during both construction and operations, large-scale wind projects such as Galloo attract other companies interested in locating near renewable energy sources.

11. How is this project going to affect electricity prices in the area?

Wind energy’s benefits for consumers are well documented. Wind displaces more expensive forms of energy in the grid, therefore driving down electricity prices. Wind power also protects consumers against the price volatility and uncertainty that comes with fossil fuels. Diversifying the market with wind energy helps hedge those risks. Using more wind power to generate electricity helps reduce the overall cost of electricity in New York State. According to the New York Independent System Operator, which operates the electricity grid, for every 1,000 MW of wind on the power grid, consumers save $300 million in wholesale energy costs.

12. What happens at the end of the turbines’ life cycle? Whose responsibility will it be to take them down?

At the end of the wind farm’s serviceable life (about 30 years), turbines will be either upgraded or decommissioned. If removed, foundations are excavated to a depth of four feet, or the depth of topsoil, and the land is restored for agricultural production, if that was its previous use. Before the wind farm is constructed, a decommissioning plan and bond will be established to ensure that Galloo Island Wind has set aside funds to pay these costs, and taxpayers and landowners will be protected from bearing any burden. This plan and bond is a requirement of an Article 10 permit. The amount of this decommissioning bond will be reanalyzed at least every five years to ensure that the money is sufficient to remove the turbines and restore the land. Each of the more than 20 existing wind farms in New York has a decommissioning plan.

13. How will this project affect those who enjoy hunting on Galloo Island or fishing nearby?

The Galloo wind turbines are not anticipated to affect fishing near the island. Many projects have been built in close proximity to shorelines, and to our knowledge, no downturn or change in the associated fisheries has been demonstrated. The deer on the island are a managed herd and limited, private guided hunting has been conducted in the past. The future of this activity is uncertain, but, in general, the wind project is compatible with deer habitat and viable deer populations. Deer and other wildlife are known to feed, rest, and utilize areas near the bases of turbines. Similarly, cattle, horses, goats, and other livestock are 100% compatible with wind energy technology.

14. What are the underwater effects from the transmission line going from Galloo to Oswego?

The underwater cable will be buried in the lakebed or laid on the lakebed in deeper water. It will not have an impact on navigation or recreational activities, including fishing. Having the transmission line run underwater avoids the visual effects of overhead transmission lines.

15. How long will the turbines be in commission?

Wind turbines typically have contracts to be in commission for 20 to 30 years. After that, they can either be upgraded and continue to run or be decommissioned.

16. Will there be any pollution from the turbines?

Wind turbines use no fuel, produce no emissions of greenhouse gases, create no air pollution, produce zero toxic substances, and do not pollute the water. It only takes about three to six months for a turbine to produce the amount of energy that goes into its manufacturing, installation, maintenance, and decommissioning phases.

17. How much wind does it take to power the turbines?

Wind turbines start operating when there is a wind speed of 4 to 5 meters per second (9 to 11 miles per hour). Their peak performance occurs around 15 meters per second (33 miles per hour).

18. Is wind power economical?

Any investment made in the wind industry must be made worthwhile by showing a reasonable performance and return on investment. Wind energy is one of the most affordable forms of electricity today.

 

Source: 2016 Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 10.0