Possible offshore windmills creates border security concerns

New York State introduced two offshore wind turbines downstate and may bring more to WNY

Mike Baggerman
July 30, 2019 - 1:28 pm

WBEN Photo/TIm Wenger

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GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WBEN) - Congressman Chris Collins said he's concerned about the border security impact of a potential wind turbine farm off the shoreline of Lake Erie and introduced federal legislation which would prevent the creation of the turbines by New York State.

Collins' push comes in response to a joint-press conference with Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore on July 18, where the governor announced the "Green New Formula", which would create two offshore wind farms downstate. The first wind farm is east of Long Island and will provide 880 megawatts to feed power into the Long Island area. The second project is 14 miles southeast of Manhattan to feed 816 megawatts to New York City.

"1,700 megawatts is enough to power over 1 million homes," Cuomo said earlier this month.

Cuomo said the projects will generate $3.2 billion in economic activity and generate 1,600 construction and permanent jobs.

Collins fears the governor would approve the project locally at the "snap of a finger".

"Lake Erie is one of the more shallow lakes," Collins said. "Our worry is with very little oversight or none, the governor could approve this project, which, I think, is universally opposed by anyone living on the lakeshore...As we've determined now, more importantly, those wind turbines would block the radar that we have here now from being able to determine if a ship is coming across. The radar is maybe 180 feet tall, the wind turbines would be 460 feet tall. The way the line of sight radar works is that it has to identify a unique object coming in. These wind turbines would create a blackout area that would be a very large percentage of what we can see all the way to the Canadian shore."

The congressman said there could be as many as 50 wind turbines placed in Lake Erie.

Collins' legislation would prevent the turbines from being put in Lake Erie within a specific mile range to the radar systems, meaning they couldn't be placed anywhere off the shores of Lake Erie.

"We have to look at the all the unintended consequences," Collins said. "In this case, it's real. It would put our border at risk."

The congressman met Tuesday with members from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Grand Island though representatives from CBP did not join Collins during his press conference. Collins said there is "politics" involved but said they support the push against the wind turbines in Lake Erie.

There are dozens of wind turbines that are inland that have generated controversy over the years, but Collins said that's a local battle and that he doesn't have much control over that issue.

NYSERDA sent a statement, "New York’s development of offshore wind is focused in the New York Bight region of the Atlantic Ocean. The New York State Offshore Wind  Master Plan did not assess the Great Lakes nor are such projects currently eligible under New York’s offshore wind standard."

View the state's master plan for offshore wind turbines by clicking the link below.

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