Can the Wind Provide an Answer?

There’s a general consensus that upstate New York’s population is declining. Understanding the economics and politics of the region is not one of my strong points, but I think the incredibly high tax rate and lack of good-paying jobs drives our young people away after they graduate from our area’s high schools and prestigious colleges. They don’t see the potential for personal career growth here as much as they do with some states in our country.

There may be one way we can change our high tax situation for the better. Wind power has been a hotly debated subject around the area I live, and I’m sure throughout all of New York. Wind turbines are said to be a blight upon the landscape, they possibly interfere with migratory patterns of birds, they don’t generate enough energy for their cost, and they are noisy. Necessary access roads to them may run through some prime farmland. Okay, I got some of the cons out of the way.

Now the pros. Wind turbines generate clean energy – there are no emissions or waste like there are from power plants using fossil fuels. I can’t think of any way that wind will be used up from producing too many turbines in the world, but fossil fuels are finite. Frankly, the scars upon our landscape from collecting fossil fuels are far worse than a view of graceful wind turbines. Speaking of the visuals, I’m sure when electricity was invented and we decided to string power lines on poles to reach homes and businesses that there was a general outcry against the unsightly structures, but they have become a part of our daily life, as have paved roads and cell phone towers, and both technologies benefit us greatly.

Tom Golisano, the billionaire owner of Paychex and resident of the Finger Lakes, once was against having wind turbines. Now he sees the beneficial aspects of wind power to the region. In fact, he is the co-founder, along with Keith Pitman, of a company called Empire State Wind Energy. This Oneida-based company is proposing producing wind energy, but with a twist. They will build the wind turbines and take a small cut from the profits, but they will turn the rest of the profit over to the town that houses the structures, which in turn can help pay the town’s taxes. The potential positive results for residents in towns within New York state that don’t have much of a tax base are incredible.

This industry alone can turn around upstate New York like no other industry in existence, and yes, maybe even our young people will see the potential.

I look forward to hearing from you. You can visit lifeinthefingerlakes.com and comment directly on my editorial or you can send an e-mail or a letter.