A major step toward expanding upstate New York’s fledgling wind power industry was taken Wednesday when the Public Service Commission approved Spanish energy giant Iberdrola’s plan to buy Energy East, the company that operates two of the region’s largest utilities. Iberdrola still must sign off on the recently weakened stipulations for the takeover set by the PSC, and assuming it does it will be a welcome development for the state’s economy, as well as its environment.
New York (not to mention the rest of the country) has a paucity of clean electricity at its disposal, but the means (wind) to generate lots of it, and fairly cheaply. If Iberdrola agrees to the PSC’s terms, it would have would have to spend a minimum of $200 million over the next five years to develop wind power for the state. This shouldn’t be a problem because the company says it wants to invest 10 times more than that.
Doing so would be an enormous boon — not only in terms of the abundance of clean power it would put at our disposal, but in terms of the jobs that construction and operation of the wind farms would create. GE has already brought some 650 new white-collar jobs to Schenectady for its Renewable Energy Division, and the Iberdrola deal would likely result in many more.
But whether it goes through or not, rural upstate towns — where the wind farms would most likely go — have to get busy passing whatever regulations they to intend to pass. And the fewer the better: when the companies come knocking, their efforts shouldn’t get bogged down in red tape.
Wind farms are not the answer to all of the state’s or nation’s energy problems, but they’re one of several pieces to the puzzle. And while their noise and size offends some country residents, it is possible to lessen the severity of their impact.