Times are changing. Energy costs are rapidly increasing and taxes are rising. The pinch on the family budget of Upstate New Yorkers is great. The ridiculous hike in gas prices that was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was a rude wake-up call. It is time to take matters in our own hands.
The United States has always been a country of invention and innovation. We need to apply that innovative factor locally, to stimulate our region economically. Right now, there is no better way to lower energy costs than to invest in wind technologies. Studies show that “every 100 megawatts of new wind capacity creates 6-8 permanent, well paying jobs and about 60 person-years of employment during construction.” Can we experience these benefits, right here, in our own area? The answer is blowing in the wind. Wind energy, clean and renewable energy, is all around us, just waiting to be used. Wayne County’s drumlins and proximity to Lake Ontario make for an excellent source of wind energy. Wayne County has many acres of farm land located on rolling hills. It is time to tap into our natural resources. We can no longer depend on foreign oil as the answer.
By acting now, we can stop the bleeding and provide a renewable energy source that will be available for future generations. Yes, there is a short term investment, but the investment will pay dividends for years to come. By lowering the cost of energy, we can once again become an attractive area to small and large businesses alike. A growth in our industrial parks and empire zones will result in more jobs, an increase in housing construction, and a higher need for services. Who will benefit most from investing in wind energy? We will. By increasing employment locally, we will not only be providing jobs at home, we will be attracting employment from outside of our area.
Why should we have our young bright minds leave for the south and southwest when they are needed here for the workforce? According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), “each 100 megawatt of wind development represents 75 short-term and 45 long-term jobs. In addition, wind projects will support a whole range of new companies to serve the wind industry. More jobs mean more citizens contributing to the tax base, which results in lower taxes. What results from lower taxes is more economic development and more jobs. At the same time, government services and grants increase without strapping the tax payers.” The end result is a better quality of life for everyone. When we have more money in our pockets, we have money for charity, for beautification of our area, and for the future.
The America Wind Energy Association also provides that “the potential for economic benefits from wind are enormous. At a time when U.S. manufacturing employment is generally on the decline, the production of wind equipment is one of the few potentially large sources of new manufacturing jobs on the horizon.” We have some of the brightest minds at our local universities, both at the University of Rochester and RIT. We should utilize our future engineers in the development of a Green Zone Energy Development Park, improving the current park located next to the New York Central Railroad and 8 miles from NYS Thruway Exit 42. Why don’t we manufacture the wind turbines in our own Empire Green Zone, powered by wind? Right now there is a waiting list for wind turbines until 2008.
With proper planning and zoning, a dream can become a reality. Once again, New York could legitimately be called the Empire State. We faced similar tough decisions in the early years of our statehood, and if not for the vision of Dewitt Clinton, New York would have never become known as the Empire State. As a direct result of Clinton’s eventual Erie Canal, shipping costs decreased from $100 a ton to only $10 a ton. The Erie Canal facilitated western expansion, and that same canal runs yet through the villages of Wayne County, an ever-present reminder of how great we once were. By subscribing to a new vision for change, we can again become proud New Yorkers.
Mark De Cracker