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Ball Hill Wind Project Mistake Casts Doubts On Feasibility Of Freshwater Turbines

The hills of Chautauqua County were alive with the sounds of, well, blasting, late last week.

Such noise was necessary because the Ball Hill Wind project in Hanover and Villenova was created on defective foundations that have to be broken up and replaced. The project is a 100-megawatt wind energy project consisting of 25 turbines now faces as much as $15 million in remedial work while serving as an object lesson for wind power advocates.

Of course, the Ball Hill broke a day after state Senators on the Environment Committee decided not to pass Sen. George Borrello’s freshwater wind turbine moratorium on to the full state Senate for consideration. Senators said a NYSERDA study on the feasbility of freshwater wind turbines hasn’t been completed, so Borrello’s moratorium shouldn’t be considered until that study is completed. But, as Borrello has said in the past, the NYSERDA study seems to be populated with wind industry professionals with much less representation from those with concerns over freshwater wind turbines.

Last week’s news about Ball Hill immediately made many people wonder what would have happened if a similar situation happened on the floor of Lake Erie. After all, the Ball Hill project is your typical, run-of-the-mill small wind farm that has been done hundreds of times around the country. Having to blast foundations from the earth because they weren’t built correctly should never happen, right?

Society must move toward more renewable energy sources, but it must do so smartly. Rushing studies and shrugging off concerns as climate denial opens us up to making mistakes that will be difficult to fix — like blasting wind turbine foundations off the floor of Lake Erie because a contractor built them incorrectly.

Go figure, a project in Borrello’s backyard perfectly made the case for a freshwater wind moratorium.

Will Democrats in the state Legislature listen?

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