The night Big Wind tried to buffalo Hammond (NY)

Jul 22, 2010

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Mary Hamilton
Concerned Residents of Hammond

July 22, 2010

A big thank you to all who sat through last night’s 4-hour Hammond Wind committee meeting with the Iberdrola representatives at the school. It was nice to see all the regulars as well as the many new faces that were in attendance.

For those who missed it, permit me to enlighten you with a summary of the “nine-act” performance that was choreographed to put the best possible spin on industrial wind development in Hammond.

The Iberdrola entourage arrived with a project manager and consultant, an engineer, a meteorologist, an environmental scientist, a public relations person, a transmission specialist, and three attorneys in tow.

The evening started with introductions of all the players that, in addition to the Iberdrola team, included representatives of the SL County Planning Board, IDA, and Real Property Tax departments, Hammond school superintendent, the DEC, Concerned Residents representative Attorney Gary Abraham, and the wind committee.

The rest of the night was devoted to watching the wind company divulge the details of their plan to change the landscape of Hammond forever in a way they feel will benefit all residents.

Those in attendance watched a PowerPoint presentation that incorporated a systematic approach, with each representative enlightening the audience on the details of their particular area of expertise. Questions were asked during and at the end of each “act” with the majority of those coming from members of the wind committee, Gary Abraham and a few of the Concerned Residents.

The overwhelming theme of the night was how much this company can do for the residents of Hammond and how concerned they are about doing it right. “Acts 1-8” described the siting process, the permitting process, the State Environmental Quality Review process, the transmission process, the engineering process (pre and post-construction), the Payment-in-lieu of Taxes process, as well as company image and the legal process and how the company’s main objective is to do things by the book.

By the time the final act closed (at 10:30 pm), the audience had also heard several of the Iberdrola team endorse “Hammond’s present wind law as ‘state of the art,’ containing everything it needs to protect its residents . . . one of the better wind ordinances in the State”! (I guess the present wind committee really has nothing to do but rubber stamp the present law.)

When Legal counsel, Mark Epstein, wrapped up his brief presentation in “Act 9” by commenting on his job of ensuring the company abides by the rules and plays fair, and then went on to expound on the fact that Iberdrola has only the best interest of the town at heart, he asked if there were any questions. Having listened all night to others ask the “hard look” questions that kept the “I” team on its toes, I had one last chance to make the comment I had been thinking about since early in the week. Perfect timing. So I opened my mouth and said:

“I appreciate the time you have taken tonight to enlighten us on your plans but I have to tell you this meeting should have happened 7-8 years ago when you first were contacted and showed interest in this area. I suggest you rethink your approach when it comes to introducing yourself into a town.

“I have one question. I heard you talk about a plan for this and a plan for that, but I feel you’re missing an important piece. I feel you are lacking a psychological component that addresses how you are going to help this community heal ’emotionally.’ Where is the detailed plan to help heal the community you have destroyed?

It may be the only time we see a presentation such as this in a public forum from Iberdrola and, in my opinion, we did our homework well and the right questions were asked.

Thanks again to all who attended, and thanks to everyone who continues to support our efforts.

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