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mailmanCasey Steven's recent letter to the Lansing Star and Mike Sigler's published viewpoints on the future of the Cayuga Power Plant (CPP) have prompted me to share another viewpoint: Let's create a strategic plan that increases tax revenue, creates jobs, protects property values, doesn't depend on fossil fuels and preserves our important resource - Cayuga Lake.

Converting the Cayuga Power Plant directly from coal to solar power with battery backup will generate current and future tax revenue without jeopardizing property values. It would also create jobs - safe jobs. The plan would include cleaning up the ash that is already leaching into and polluting the lake.

Solar is a clear and viable choice that will fulfill our community's concerns and needs, generate locally produced energy and keep our watershed healthy. Far from being a reactionary or impractical dream, it is already being done. A relatively nearby example is the community of Holyoke, MA. They pulled the plug on their coal plant, converting directly to solar. Their story is summarized in a YouTube video.

It isn't widely known that the New York Public Service Commission has already completed upgrades to the local transmission system and has stated that there is no need for taxpayer subsidies to be used in converting CPP to gas. In addition, converting the power plant from coal to gas-fired will earn us another dubious Title V designation by the EPA. In plain language, the proposed gas-fired CPP would perpetuate the plant as a source of major pollution. Is that what we, as local residents, want perched on our lakeside?

What should we really be afraid of? A real-life example took place during the 2018 Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. Coal ash from one active and one decommissioned plant flowed into the nearby water of Cape Fear River during the resultant flood. Damage and problems from this are ongoing- and once these events happen- "clean-up" isn't a tidy or inexpensive process.

Every morning as I look out my front window and watch the mist rise off the lake or walk along the sparkling waters, I'm awed by our lake's beauty and its vital importance to our ecosystem.

It is possible to "have it all": tax revenue, locally produced energy, jobs, a healthy environment and a forward-thinking community. CPP tax revenue that supports school, town, county and fire services has already decreased more than 80% over the past decade. We can certainly turn this around while creating renewable energy.

Watch for information as representatives from Holyoke will be coming to share their success with our community.

This issue is too complex and important to be fairly covered in letters to the editor. Let's start a respectful, fact-based dialogue to envision a future for ourselves and generations to come - one that grows our economy and our future.

Mary Balfour
Lansing, NY
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