By Kathryn Ross/Daily Reporter
CENTERVILLE – George Ellis isn’t gung-ho when it comes to energy generated by windpower, but he does believe it’s the way the wind will blow down the road.
“I think my grandchildren will see it,” he said recently, “We have to do something about the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.”
Ellis’ farm is located less than two miles from the heart of the hamlet of Centerville. At the top of the hill, before you get to the farm located on County Route 3, the Centerville landscape stretches out for miles. At the crest of the hill, down a rocky lane, stands a 200-foot tall tower in a field ringed by a wire fence. Guy lines designated by bright yellow plastic, hold the tower which reaches into the sky to measure the direction and intensity of the wind flow. Propellers near the top of the tower record the velocity and direction of the wind.
Ellis is quick to say he hasn’t leased any land long-term to Noble Environmental Power LLC. He has a one-year lease with the company for the land the tower is standing on.
“I think it’s important that people get the facts,” he said. “This will help everyone get the facts they need to make a decision. A company offers the farmer $6,000 a year to lease part of his land for 50 years. It sounds good to the farmer. It takes him six months to earn $6,000. The media all say this is the way of the future, so it all sounds good, but no one has any facts,” he said.
Ellis said he wonders how cost effective generating energy from windpower will be once the industry is no longer subsidized by the government. Funds for alternative power generation development were included in the federal government’s 2006 energy bill according to Congressman John R. “Randy” Kuhl who represents Centerville as part of the 29th Congressional District.
The tower on Ellis’ land will record wind measurements for one year. Two other towers are also located in Centerville.
Getting the facts is exactly what opponents of energy generated by windpower say Centerville residents should be doing. Katherine Bush of Save Upstate NY, a former Wellsville resident, said “Wind development is not benign by any stretch of the imagination. A close look reveals that it’s positive aspects are largely overstated, while it’s negative impacts, noise (more than doubling the level of ambient sound), light degradation (flickering affect), erosion, television and phone interference, increased traffic (usually during construction phases), lowered property values, safety and recreational issues, loss of natural amenities, are trivialized.”
She warns, “Don’t be duped by Nobel Environmental or any other wind developer. Do your homework. The money they offer could never be enough to make up for the loss of your natural environment.”
Information from Save Upstate NY concerning windmills can be accessed at: get firstname.lastname@example.org.
By KATHRYN ROSS/Daily Reporter
This large 200-foot tall tower on George Ellis’ farm near Centerville measures the wind velocity and direction. Propellers near the top of the tower measures and records the wind.
Centerville putting windmill law together
By KATHRYN ROSS
CENTERVILLE – The Centerville town board is going with the flow, working on a town law and taking the wind out of the sails of the wind-power debate which is expected to escalate when Noble Environmental Power LLC files an application in September or October to build 67 windmills with the board.
Late in 2005, newly-elected town Supervisor Frank Sardina was contacted by Noble Environmental Power LLC of Malone concerning the possibility of the construction of a 67-generator wind plant on the high ridges of Centerville. Once it became public knowledge windmill, opponents voiced negative opinions of the proposal from as far away as Sweden.
There were also many locals who expressed negative opinions. One trustee estimated 12 or 15 people attended meetings for awhile. There are alos those who think it might be a boon to the declining agricultural economy of the area according to Sardina. Others refrained from forming an opinion until the facts were in, he said.
Not wainting to make a hasty decision Sardina said, “We decided we needed to check this (Nobles’ proposal) out to the 10th degree.”
So working on the premise “it would be as much out of line to deject as to accept a potential economic opportunity for the town without investigation,” Sardina said he and the five-person board created a 19-part flow chart to track the progress of its study concerning the pros and cons of windmill energy generation and the requirements each party has to meet before a decision can be rendered.
Sardina is a former town justice, and as such, said he is familiar with requirements. The flow chart also tracks the responsibilities of Noble.
“We’re right on schedule,” said Sardina of the progress made to date. The board is at level eight – putting together a law which outlines the regulations and requirements concerning the operation of windplants. Yet while the law is specific, Sardina said the flow chart outlining the responsibilities can be used whenever a company is considering moving into the area.
The law, Sardina said, is based on standards which have been developed over the years in other communities, and includes regulations concerning the location of windmills, maintenance, decommissioning, infrastructure, and set back.
“It also includes a clause concerning unknown issues that may arise and does not negate the town’s ability to regulate those issues,” he said.
Once the law is adopted by the board, Sardina said, it becomes formal “and then the developer can put in an application to build the project,” he said.
The application includes a state environmental quality review of the outlined sites involving the study of the windplant’s affect on protected streams, wetlands, ambient sound, and local agriculture.
“There has to be a standard that any industry or company interested in coming here has to meet,” Sardina said, “to show people that in any given process we go through the procedures outlined on the flow chart”
Sardina said he hopes that if the people of Centerville have the facts they will be able to make a more informed decision.
“We want to drive the emotion out of this and treat this project like any project that would come to the town,” he said.
Despite the actions taken by the town board, Sardina said, Noble is still showing interest in the project, and according to the new standards developed by the board, the company plans to submit an application to the board in September or October.
“They have wind measurement devices up in three likely locations along a line stretching from southwest to north central Centerville,” Sardina said.
He described the wind measuring apparatus as 200-foot tall towers with guy wires that are located on properties under an easement agreement.
He also said Nobles’ initial plan calls for dispersing 67 wind towers along that line in four or five unit clusters running to a collection point linking the Centerville project to Noble’s project in the town of Eagle in Wyoming County.
Since first learning about the Noble proposal, Sardina and the board members have visited wind plants in other counties and attended seminars regarding energy generation through wind power.
Sardina attended a technical seminar concerning windpower which was hosted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
Other board members planned to attend the Regional Wind Energy conference hosted by Southern Tier West in Fredonia earlier this week.
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