A formal ribbon cutting ceremony was held beneath one of six new wind turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline. Leaders from First Wind, the company operating the windmills, and elected officials joined in a ribbon-cutting at the base of one of these turbines.
To get an appreciation for just how big these wind turbines are, stand beneath one. As if the size of the windmill wasn't impressive enough, watching the speed at which the blades turn can be awe-striking. Officials say collectively the windmills along the shoreline could power half the City of Lackawanna or about a third of the Town of Hamburg.
"But it's more than that, because it really is ... this is part of the future here," said Hamurg Town Supervisor Steven Walters. "This is part of what we're seeing along the waterfront here in the greater Buffalo area."
Leaders are hailing expansion of Steel Wind as another sign of a Buffalo-area waterfront that's moving in the right direction. These turbines sit where nearly 30,000 people once worked in Lackawanna's booming steel industry.
Congressman Brian Higgins said he looks upon the land now not with regret but with optimism. That optimism is fueled by a growing alternative energy producer that he says deserves the support of the public.
"We've got to make a generational commitment to tax credits to move us off of our dependence on fossil fuels," Higgins said. "This project is fundamentally important. Why? Because it adds 15 megawatts, 15,000 kilowatts, to the current availability out here, to give us a total of 35 megawatts."
Higgins says Americans' dependence on foreign oil is "insulating" world leaders including Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who need not agree to social or political reforms while he keeps selling his oil to a consuming West.
Other elected officials speaking at the cermeony suggested that while the world will eventually run out of fossil fuels, there will always be wind to generate power.