10:28am

Fri March 18, 2011
Morning news round-up: Energy

Erie County joins march to ban offshore wind turbines

Erie County has joined a half a dozen other counties in New York in banning wind turbines on its Great Lakes frontage.  Matthew Spina at the Buffalo News reports:

In a statement approved 13-2, legislators said they feared a wind farm could dislodge toxins in the lake bed, affect shipping lanes, threaten wildlife with electrical shorts and harm sport fishing — all threats that have yet to be studied for the Great Lakes project.

“The installation of a wind farm would create a change in scenery, with a negative effect on the beauty of Lake Erie, which is admired by visitors to Western New York and residents alike,” the statement said before concluding, “the Erie County Legislature opposes the exploitation of Lake Erie as a site for a windfarm.”

Similar measures in Monroe, Niagara and Chataqua counties have been passed with the hope that it will prevent the state power authority from siting the world's first freshwater wind farm in their backyards.  But Spina reports that the Power Authority says it's "keeping its options open."

RG&E and NYSEG

New York has hired an outside auditor to check over the accounts of Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) and New York State Gas and Electric (NYSEG).  My-Ly Nguyen reports at Gannett that Liberty Consulting Group of Pennsylvania has been chosen to look at the books kept by Iberdrola, RG&E and NYSEG's parent company:

This audit will focus on the Iberdrola companies' construction program planning and operational efficiency, the PSC [Public Service Commission] said.

On Dec. 16, the PSC authorized the issuance of a request for proposals from independent third-party consultants.

Seven management consulting firms submitted proposals for consideration, the PSC said. Liberty, which will report directly to commission staff, was selected as the most qualified based on factors such as expertise and experience, demonstrated understanding of the commission's objectives and cost.

The total potential cost of the audit could be up to about $1.54 million, the PSC said.

Meanwhile Thomas Adams reports at the Rochester Business Journal that RG&E and NYSEG have produced 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of hydropower in the last five years:

RG&E and NYSEG expect to generate 387 million kilowatts of hydroelectric in 2011, officials said.

RG&E has three hydro-generating stations on the Genesee River in Rochester with a combined capacity of 56.9 megawatts, officials said. NYSEG has five stations, four in northern New York and one north of Albany.

RG&E is investing $4 million to increase the capacity at Station 2 by 30 percent, from 6.5 megawatts to 8.5 megawatts, officials said. When completed, the station will increase its capacity to 61 million kilowatts annually.

Fracking

Pennsylvanians offered a stiff warning to New Yorkers at a forum about hydrofracking in Penn Yan earlier this week, reports the Messenger Post.  The event was hosted by the Committee to Preserve the Finger Lakes, which is opposed to natural gas hydrofracking in the Southern Tier:

Ellen Harrison, a retired professor of environmental science and geology from Cornell University, is one of the founders of fleased.org. She claimed she was duped by the gas company with whom she and her husband signed a lease, thinking that natural gas was an eco-friendly source of energy.

“I’m a trained geologist, and even I was fooled by them,” Harrison said.

Harrison claimed the five-year lease she signed makes no mention of the type of drilling practice that will be used, giving the drillers carte blanche to use any method they like. It also has a provision that gives the company unlimited rights of renewal for another five years.

Meanwhile, Watkins Glen will be hosting "A Systems Approach to Energy Transitions" on March 30-31 reports the Elmira Star-Gazette.  The conference is meant to help attendees understand the implications of exploiting natural gas in the Marcellus shale.  Susan Christopherson will be one of the presenters, along with experts from NYSERDA and Cornell.

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