Well over 100 Tompkins residents gathered in Enfield to discuss the Black Oak Wind Farm in December. Photo by Michael Smith

Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion piece written by Jude Lemke. As always, we are eager to reprint alternative or dissenting viewpoints. Please send them to jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com

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Recently, Peter Bardaglio, Present of Black Oak Wind Farm LLC, wrote an opinion in the Ithaca Voice in which he accused me of wildly misleading charges and unsupported assertions regarding the Black Oak Wind Farm as well as making untrue statements about me personally.

When he made similar accusations about me in a private email to members of the Town Board of Enfield and Wind Farm Advisory Committee, I chose to ignore them in an effort to keep a civil discourse going. But now that he has gone public with his comments, I feel I must respond.

Related — Opinion: Black Oak Wind Farm president defends Enfield project

I will limit this response to the personal attack he has launched at me. Obviously we disagree about many things regarding Black Oak Wind Farm and wind farms in general. It is his right to have his opinion about the benefits of wind farms and my right to have opinions about the potential detriments of wind farms.

That is what a democratic society is all about.

But to respond to his personal attack, I have the following comments:

 Peter states that I am “an opponent to wind power in general.” I am not sure where he gets this idea. Until last Tuesday, February 2nd, I had never even met Peter, nor did I know anything about him. As I have always said, the issue here is only about having safe setbacks and noise limitations. The residents are trying to have a dialogue with Black Oak Wind Farm, through the Wind Farm Advisory Committee, to see if we can find a compromise.

 Peter contends that my statement that Black Oak will “generate enormous profits for people who do not even live in their community” is wrong because: (1) the majority of investors who live in Tompkins County will not receive any return on their investment for 10 years and (2) some of the investors live in Enfield.

Since Peter has obviously read my comments to that article he knows that that my quote was taken out of context by the Cornell Daily Sun. That statement was made in reference to the wealthy investors who will use Black Oak Wind Farm as a tax shelter.

Related: Town Residents Oppose Location of Windfarm

Wind farm projects are not financially viable without out large tax credits and other subsidies offered by the federal and state taxing authorities to support these projects.

Then tax shelters run by Wall Street investment firms invest in these projects to allow their wealthy clients to use the tax benefits to shelter their income from taxes. In the case of Black Oak, Onyx Renewable Partners LP is considering investing close to $20 million in this project compared to the $3 million that Peter claims the current investors have put in.

For the first 10 years of the project, the wealthy Onyx clients will be entitled to 99% of all the tax credits and other tax benefits that Black Oak Wind Farm LLC produces. Onyx is owned by Blackstone, a Wall Street firm with annual revenues of $710 million. As multi-Billionaire, Warren Buffett, candidly admitted: “We get tax credits if we build ‘wind farms.’ That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credits.”

For reasons that escape me, Peter references an article about my tenure at the Senate Finance Committee which alleges that I went there to assist in writing a bill to repeal the medical device tax because my former employer was a medical device company. I am not sure what this has to do with wind farms. But that allegation is completely false.

First of all, I had retired from the medical device company for some time before I was approached by the Senate Finance Committee to work for them so there was no connection whatsoever between my employment at the medical device company and my subsequent employment by the Senate Finance Committee.

Second of all, I was recused from any considerations concerning the medical device tax. Third of all, my personal view is that the medical device tax should not be repealed.

 Peter points out that I must know that the fossil fuel industry has tax breaks that far outweigh those given to wind and solar and then asks “isn’t the elimination of government subsidies for fossil fuel industries long overdue?” To this I respond, of course I know that and yes it is time for these government subsidies to be repealed – for all industries.

That is why I wrote an important tax reform discussion draft put out by the Senate Finance Committee that provides that all tax breaks for the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries be repealed because the tax law should be neutral and it should not be used to favor one industry over another. In fact, I recently went to Washington, DC to speak on this very topic at a national tax conference.

So, to Peter’s final point. Let’s stick to the facts.

Jude Lemke

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Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.