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State needs to invest in solar and wind energy

Chautauqua County and Dunkirk residents have benefited from the tax revenues received from the operation of the Dunkirk Power Station since the 1960s, and now the Public Service Commission must decide to either close it or convert it from coal to gas.

At a PSC hearing in Dunkirk last week, angry officials and residents complained that 25 percent of Dunkirk’s tax revenues would be lost if the plant closed. Local property taxes and school taxes would skyrocket. With the loss of other industries in the area, it appears that the region had become dependent upon that tax revenue.

This same situation is facing dozens of communities in New York State as fossil fuel and nuclear plants are phased out. Although these closures are necessary for the general public good, it is not fair that communities like Dunkirk become sacrificial lambs for the good of the whole state.

Green electricity solutions are here, creating a better environment for generations to come as well as bringing new jobs and new tax revenues, but New York State government must figure out a way to accommodate the change without destroying local economies.

A simple answer is to allow the entire state tax base to cover local tax losses until new tax revenues phase in. Upstate New York is in an excellent position to take advantage of offshore and onshore wind generation, as well as for manufacturing large wind turbines. If the state would follow Germany’s lead by investing in solar and wind, 30,000 new upstate green jobs would be created in about three years. Our state government needs to step up to the plate and provide incentives for these green energy opportunities to take hold.

James S. Miller

East Aurora