Steve Rutiglianos recent letter (State siting law a form of eminent domain, Nov. 28) gets most of the facts wrong with respect to Article 10 and what wind capacity versus energy means to the electric grid. Your readers should also be aware that the state Siting Board will be making decisions on all new generating plants over 25 megawatts, not just wind plants.
First, Mr. Rutigliano is incorrectly applying the term eminent domain. The government may only use eminent domain to seize private property where the property is to be for public use and the owners receive fair compensation. Article 10 in no way confers power to the state government to take private property. Article 10 simply allows the state Siting Board to supersede local laws if such laws are deemed overly burdensome. Even with such a determination, project development cannot move forward without the consent of the landowners whose land will be used as part of the project.
Furthermore, Article 10 contains a number of provisions to protect the rights of individuals and communities, including rigorous requirements for public involvement plans, intervenor funding and the opportunity to serve on the Siting Board itself (two ad hoc members are appointed by local leaders for the special purpose of providing a local voice in each proceeding conducted to consider specific individual applications).
Regarding sound: typically, two people can carry on a conversation at normal voice levels even while standing directly below a turbine. Many thousands of people worldwide live near wind farms with no ill effects and no impact on their ability to use their property as they normally would.
According to Power Trends 2012, a report by the New York Independent System Operator, which runs the states electricity grid and wholesale energy markets, in the summer of 2011 New Yorks electric system had 37,707 megawatts of installed capacity (actual potential to generate). Plants powered by fossil fuels made up 70 percent of this capacity, but they only provided 45 percent of our actual electricity generation. This is because the least-cost generation is used to meet the demand for electricity. As a result, the lower cost power offered by renewable energy (wind and hydro) contributed to meeting our needs for electricity in far greater proportion to their share of capacity than fossil fuel plants.
While each new project should be carefully sited, Article 10 poses no threat to private property owners.
Carol E. Murphy
The writer is the Executive Director for Alliance for Clean Energy New York.