By Gregory Bacon
8/30/2006 – Special to The Post-Journal: FREDONIA – Although a wind farm in Ripley or Westfield appears unlikely, at least one wind study expert believes a wind farm could still end up in Chautauqua County.
“˜”˜I think you’ll see one in one to two years. It’s very likely,” said Daniel G. Reynolds, a Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board regional environmental analyst.
On Tuesday, Reynolds helped put on a “˜”˜zoning for wind power and green energy development” conference at BOCES in Fredonia.
According to Reynolds, the company that tried to put in wind towers in Westfield and Ripley ran into too much opposition and had to give up.
“˜”˜Essentially they went bankrupt,” he said.
New companies are instead looking at other places on the Lake Erie shoreline and other towns in northern Chautauqua County, where there’s a lot of wind.
“˜”˜Chautauqua County is ranked number one in the state for wind energy development,” he said.
Because of the outside interest, the Southern Tier West put on the conference for municipal leaders to give them some guidance about how to address wind farms.
“˜”˜Our focus is actually about making their comprehensive plan a guide,” he said. “˜”˜Just because you have zoning doesn’t mean you have enough. You need to have a comprehensive plan.”
William Hart, Pomfret town councilman, said he found the six-hour workshop very helpful.
“˜”˜This is all stuff the town board is really excited about getting into,” he said. “˜”˜When we have public hearings, I’ll be more knowledgeable.”
Yvonne Park, Villenova town supervisor, said they already have the laws on the books, but now she knows they need to be updated.
“˜”˜I wish this was presented before we put our wind tower law in place,” she said. “˜”˜In the future we’re going to have to add to it.”
Kathy Tampio, Hanover town supervisor, said they, too, have a law in place that will need updating. She appreciated learning what the state Agriculture and Market laws are and how they affect wind towers.
“˜”˜We want to be as prepared as we can be,” she said.
According to Reynolds, there were about 70 municipal officials in attendance. Most of them were from northern Chautauqua County, although there were representatives from Cattaraugus and Allegany counties as well. Reynolds said the closest wind tower farm is in Weathersfield, N.Y. in Wyoming County. Another has been proposed for the town of Eagle, also in Wyoming County.
Historically, wind towers have been a source of controversy wherever they’re proposed.
“˜”˜People seem to have their minds made up before they hear anything,” he said. “˜”˜We try to remain impartial.”
Reynolds said Southern Tier West will probably be putting on additional wind power conferences in the future, although no dates have been set.