The Black Oak Wind Farm Is A Black Mark on the Solutions Project

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


The Black Oak Wind Farm was supposed to be a monument to the potential for the Solutions Project to take New York 100% renewable. Predictably, it’s dead.

Tony “the Tiger” Ingraffea is still out there preaching the Gospel of the Solutions Project. It’s pure fantasyland, conjured up by true believers and promoted by the likes of fantasy actor Mark Ruffalo. The concept, as applied to New York State, is that converting to 100% renewables is as simple as teaching your dog to beg. All that’s required is a little determination. But, the news from Tony’s own backyard says otherwise.

Tony Ingraffea, back in 2014, was saying this:

Yes, Tony maintained then, as he continues to maintain, that converting New York State to 100% renewables was not only possible, but also necessary. He even produced a plan showing how. As I explained in 2016, his plan was to:

…convert New York State’s (NYS’s) all-purpose (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) energy infrastructure to one derived entirely from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) generating electricity and electrolytic hydrogen. Under the plan, NYS’s 2030 all-purpose end-use power would be provided by 10% onshore wind (4020 5-MW turbines)

I pointed out at the time how difficult it was to do wind projects. I’ve represented communities that have accommodated wind projects, I’ve worked on a wind project, advocated for wind projects and I’ve stood before a crowd of angry Manhattanites who didn’t want any wind projects near their second homes in the Catskills. I know what it’s like and I suggested Tony might not know but I could see the signs of the future from the controversy surrounding the Black Oak Wind Farm proposed in his Ithaca backyard.

Much to Tony’s credit he put his mouth where his money is, in promoting wind energy. He went to the mat on behalf of the Black Oak Wind Farm, which I reported here as the opposition intensified:

“There’s far too much resistance across New York State, from the very same people who said ‘no shale gas in my backyard’ are now saying no solar panels and no wind in my backyard. You can’t have it both ways,” said Tony Ingraffea, a Cornell University researcher who is concerned about the slow pace of renewable energy development in New York, at a press conference in December. “Suck it up and be courageous.”

This was in January, 2017 and I applauded Tony for “finally getting it right.” But, I also made it clear he was highly unlikely to win:

He pretended (and told everyone else) renewables could simply replace natural gas, ignoring the political realities of getting projects approved in New York where NIMBYs and other people like him are uniquely empowered in opposing stuff.

Yes, Tony played with fire and it got away from him. He’s 100% correct when he says “You can’t have it both ways” but that wasn’t how he acted when he was pushing Mark Jacobson’s theory of a 100% renewable New York was it? No, Tony wanted all renewables and supposed it could happen without gas and without opposition. He was only too happy to trash the natural gas that’s needed not only as a complement to renewables but also to avoid having to cover Upstate New York with windmills that would inevitably face enormous NIMBY opposition. New York, like every other state, needs an all-of-the-above energy policy and picking winners and losers is fraught with risk.

It was entirely predictable wind and large solar projects would face exactly the same type of NIMBY opposition as natural gas projects just as everything else does. New York State policy virtually ensured it.

This brings us to yesterday when I decided it might be worthwhile checking back on the status of the Black Oak Wind Farm, which was a lousy seven turbines. What I found was a December, 2017 article from the Ithaca Voice entitled “Black Oak Wind Farm cancelled.” The NIMBYs won, as they usually do in uppity communities of academics with money and time to waste:

To wax poetic for a moment, one could say a black oak has withered and fallen. The organization planning the Black Oak Wind Farm in Enfield has declared bankruptcy, and the renewable energy project has been cancelled.

According to project representative Marguerite Wells, the culprit is the town of Enfield’s moratorium on wind turbines, a proverbial final nail in the coffin for the beleaguered project. “The project could not survive the moratorium, since the town board had already had a de facto moratorium for the previous nine months as well. With nearly two years of no action on the permit documents before them, our contracts expired and potential investors lost interest.

There is no possibility of us reviving it after the moratorium; our leases and contracts are terminated. There is very low likelihood of anyone else wanting to propose a wind project there in the foreseeable future, due to small project site and oppositional town board and neighbors…”

The project has been the subject of a highly contentious debate that extended for years. The plan, first conceived in 2006 and modified multiple times over the years, called for seven wind turbines that would produce 16.1 MW of energyenough to power almost 3,000 homes

Unfortunately for the backers, the project ran into significant opposition from Enfield and Newfield residents with concerns about wind turbines in their towns. Reasons cited included potential health impacts through noise, wildlife impacts (birds), aesthetic issues and ice accretion.

There it is; pure unadulterated MIMBYism of the sort Tony Ingraffea encourage against natural gas, and by the same people, no doubt. They decided they could and should have it both ways, as all NIMBYs are wont to believe.

There are some positives here, though. The Black Oak debacle demonstrates, beyond all doubt, the foolishness of the Solutions Project, which is built on the naive expectation that wind and solar farms will be welcomed wherever they go because they’re just so darned clean and green. It also exposes the complete hypocrisy of the sort of trendy upper class folks who typically mouth “green new deal” or whatever the latest political correct slogan might be. Finally, it forces at least a few folks of intellectual honesty, to confront the reality that gas is essential. Everyone but Tony Ingraffea, that is.

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13 thoughts on “The Black Oak Wind Farm Is A Black Mark on the Solutions Project

  1. We need to find other sources of clean and safe energy;
    and Gas is not the only solution and needs to be phased out;

    here is the latest investigation by our Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office into the problems and abuse of the Gas Industry in our counties and neighborhoods.
    Read this new story of the horrors folks go through living next to an industrial gas industry site.

    you can not continue to abuse and harm folks for your energy.

    • Vera,
      Why does nat gas need to be phased out? It is by far the best option available to meet our CO2 reduction targets, and additionally provide the safe, inexpensive, and reliable energy that society needs.

      Additionally, it provides significant economic benefits to the local community. I lived in Moon Township (next to Washington County) for several years, and Washington County could certainly use a boost to the local economy.

      The complainant in the Post Gazette article made all sorts of unsupported claims but no proof. Looks like a garden variety shakedown to me.

      • it has to be phased out because per my experience,
        it is not safe, or inexpensive in its development next to our homes…and schools and farms.
        Until you live next door to it, can you fully comprehend the invasiveness and toxicity of it…
        And you have to prove that it’s a “significant economic benefit” for the neighborhoods it’s in.
        It’s in my county and for the majority I don’t see any significant economic boom.
        You can tell the 55 % poverty-level children in our local Elk Lake School about the economic benefits while they are surrounded with gas wells and infrastructure.
        Our overall poverty rate for the county is similar or worse than ten years ago.
        You can tell the increased number of food banks and churches that provide food for the people how economically well we’re doing..
        Well, we shall see how “garden variety” the complaints are to the Attorney General as they bring the evidence to the Grand Jury and start handing out charges to the Gas Industry.

    • Vera, petroleum based energy will never be phased out completely unless we discover something along the line of dilithium crystals from Star Trek and that is just science fiction at this time.
      The mining for Cobalt and Rare Earth metals for rechargeable batteries and wind turbine motors have their own devastating social and environmental impacts but you refuse to acknowledge it. You are completely full of it…and speaking of being full of “stuff”..why aren’t you rallying for improvemens of needed infrastructure and better resource management. You are one of the biggest hypocrites out there along with the clueless Hollywood actors and fake green SJW’s. You are simply a fraud.

      • As per usual, Spuds, hiding behind “fake name” of course, you’re on a name-calling roll
        without just facts to support your position.
        Name-calling takes away from your credibility as I learned the hard way.

        Yes, I agree I don’t like “mining” of any kind to support our energy structures.
        We need to find a better way and I have faith that we can and will.

        • Fraudsters are people who expound against one thing yet are guilty of doing that very thing. Josef Goebbels comes to mind. So “calling you names” does not apply since you and your ilk do not practice what you all preach. It is a very dangerous situation when such individuals can influence policy especially at the same time disregardimg the welfare of others. Look at all those individuals who flew in private jets to Davos last week to pontificate about “climate change” when nary a one understood 9th grade Earth Science. This has devolved into a religion that even if you question and/or have an alternative solution, you are demonized as a “denier”. Be careful for what you wish for.

    • Vera

      The only part about your responce I agree with is we need to develope (not find) alternative energy. But like a new born baby, something that may soon be extinct in NY, we cannot feed steak to an infant without it choking. Therefore as we develope and perfectify alternative energies, we must not deny what is working and so abundant to civilization, that being fossil fuels. To do so would not save the planet from false claimes of climate change, but rather regress it back to the stone age. It’s fossil fuels that God has provided that has matured the world to the high standard of living you have become accustomed too.

  2. Nimbies always expect the sacrifices for their comfort to be made by someone else living somewhere else. They do not want to do without the comfort provided by any kind of energy as long as it comes to them without the source being visible to them.

    The inventor of an invisible, on demand energy source will be highly successful. (Maybe another scam idea for Elon Musk to pursue).

    We have gone from a nation of hardy, self sufficient, innovative pioneers to total wimps that would simply fade away, if they had to provide for their own needs from resources in their own neighborhoods.

  3. Tom SHepstone, check out the problems oil companies have with gaskets in hydrogen service.

    THe line by Mr. I stating “all-purpose (for electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry) energy infrastructure to one derived entirely from wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) generating electricity and electrolytic hydrogen. ” Shows he is planning to have hydrogen-powered cars.

    He did not state what he was going to do about Tort Law, or where he was going to get the multi-use hydrogen gaskets for automotive service.

    You can have Tort law or you can have hydrogen-powered cars, but not both. The oil industry has been looking for a hydrogen-tight single use gasket since the 1880s (if not before), and they are still looking.

    Simply put fueling hydrogen vehicles is sufficiently dangerous anybody building them, or providing the hydrogen filling stations can expect to be sued out of existence in less than a decade. People using them can expect one incineration every 90,000 person-years. (And yes oil companies are right paranoid (as are their workers) in hydrogen units.

  4. As the Supervisor of the Town of Enfield, who developed and proposed the Moratorium on Commercial Solar and Wind development in our town, I’d like to make a few corrections to this article.

    The people who brought the concerns about this development were primarily blue collar, Republican, and generational residents of our town. Yes! Even Republicans care about their neighbors and the impact of heavy industry such as 500-700 foot wind turbines in their community.

    BO never completed their application, nor did they even meet the requirements of our poorly written law that was actually written by the industry itself. This protracted abuse of our community went on for nine years. It drained our energy, resources, and tax payer dollars, as BO left us with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.

    They expected our small town board to just rubber stamp and believe they were trustworthy and had the best interests of our town in mind. They were never a “community owned” wind farm, as they used over and over in propaganda. They would never have been built unless a very large investor bought the project and bought out the community investment, leaving the community of Enfield to deal with a likely foreign company with deep pockets to abuse our community even more.

    I make no apologies for stopping the madness in our town and spending the time during the Moratorium preparing our community to welcome safe and compatible renewable energy development. In a County with an Industrial Development Agency that steals our ability to raise revenue from this type of development (and many others), we needed to develop the infrastructure to oversee and impose regulations ourselves, without their interference. If our community will be impacted, our community will be compensated.

    I appreciate the opportunity to give some facts regarding our experience. I am fully supportive of renewable energy development in our community, as long as it is safe, compatible, and does not impact the rural way of life our residents are so fully invested in preserving.

  5. Pingback: Constitution Pipeline Dies at the Hands of NRDC Gang and Mad GovernorNatural Gas Now

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