Rep. Chris Collins, (R) NY-27, on Tuesday stood in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility on Grand Island and shared concerns about a potential wind turbine farm more than 20 miles away off the shore of Lake Erie.
- Diamond Generating Corporation has discussed putting as many as 50 wind turbines in the waters off Lake Erie off Sturgeon Point to the Pennsylvania line
- Collins says shadows cast by the turbines could disrupt radar detection used by Homeland Security
- The Clarence congressman is crafting legislation to prevent the project from happening within the radar range
"These are 460-foot massive turbines and they're going to be staggered, as many as 50 of them," he said.
A California company called Diamond Generating Corporation inquired with the Town of Evans this spring about putting the wind turbines in the lake near Sturgeon Point, extending toward the Pennsylvania state line. Evans Town Supervisor Mary Holser and other local leaders have opposed the idea.
Collins says his biggest problem is security on the water near the Canadian border. The turbines could create massive shadows he says could interfere with Homeland Security radar systems monitoring ships on the lake.
"The threat is not only real but it would be devastating to their ability to know what's coming across from Canada into the U.S," Collins said.
The Clarence congressman says he's now working on legislation to effectively kill the project before it ever gets off the ground.
"In the name of border security to prevent something like this from being put into Lake Erie within a certain x-number of miles proximity to current radar systems," Collins said.
Asked if he would oppose similar projects on dry land, Collins said that's out of his control. He's in favor of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, but in combination with fossil fuels like natural gas. Collins calls the Western New York region "energy-independent."
State Sen. Chris Jacobs, (R) Buffalo, who's running for Collins' New York 27th congressional seat, also came out against the Lake Erie wind farm idea in recent days.
"Officials from Homeland Security confirmed to me that the major shadows cast by these incredibly large structures would make their radar systems useless in that Southtown’s coastline,” Jacobs said in a statement. “The frequency of illegal drug smuggling and human trafficking in this corridor is reason enough for me to oppose this wind turbine project."
A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection confirmed Collins did meet with a border patrol chief about the issue and "the discussion focused on the impact that the turbines would have on Border Patrol Maritime Detection capabilities, operations and national security concerns in the region."
Diamond Generating Corporation did not immediately return a request for comment on this story.