Reunion Power’s educational forum on wind power lasted two hours longer than scheduled, but failed to address some of the specific concerns residents had about the company’s proposal to put 24 turbines on East Hill.
Reunion’s panel of experts included attorney Jeffrey Durocher, of Read and Laniado in Albany, who are under contract with Reunion Power for the East Hill project; Andy D’Amico, one of the principals of Reunion Power; Diane Enders and John Hecklau, of EDR, who have been retained by Reunion Power to provide environmental services for the project; noise expert George Hessler, of Hessler Associates, who was paid to attend, but has not been retained for the project; and moderator Steve Sullivan, who has a business connection to the Alliance for Clean Energy, of which Reunion Power is a member.
Sullivan disclosed the experts’ connections to Reunion Power following their opening remarks and before the almost three-hour question and answer period.
Reunion Power is attempting to drum up support for its project and has been urging residents to tell the town board not to adopt a proposed local wind ordinance that would threaten its project.
David Little, Reunion’s project manager, said previously that the ordinance would effectively ban wind turbines from East Hill if it is adopted as currently written because of noise level standards and setbacks from property lines and residences.
Reunion’s consultant John Hecklau commented that if the ordinance is passed as it is now he doesn’t think there would be a project.
Like recent town and planning board hearings and meetings, the audience was predominately populated by members of the Advocates for Cherry Valley, who oppose Reunion’s proposal.
The group formed following the announcement in April 2002 by Global Winds Harvest that it wanted to put turbines in Cherry Valley and many of members are now well-versed in wind energy issues. Many of their questions were specific to the East Hill proposal and often met with the fact that Reunion and its expert panel did not have answers, yet.
“We really haven’t started the environmental studies on the project. Until we know a project is possible we won’t do the studies,” Hecklau said.
Asked about the turbines impact on the viewshed, Hecklau said they had done only a preliminary analysis and that a full study had not yet been initiated.
D’Amico, who is in charge of the operation and maintenance of wind turbines for Reunion, could not answer how they intended to get the pieces of the massive turbines up East Hill because they hadn’t done a transportation study.
Town resident Greg Noonan found it hard to believe they didn’t have a better idea of how it would be accomplished and told D’Amico there were only two roads to East Hill _ a fact D’Amico was unaware of.
Little characterized wind energy development as a “very, very high risk venture” and that there were no guarantees for developers. The application process and the studies which would have to be done would require an investment of tens of thousands of dollars, he said. The studies will not be done unless there is going to be an application submitted.
Reunion, Little said, supports a wind ordinance, but one that is balanced and would allow them an opportunity to do the studies and demonstrate they could address potential problems.
Town supervisor Tom Garretson said Friday afternoon that he now anticipates the town board will not vote on the proposed wind ordinance until November. The public comment period closed Oct. 10 and the supervisor said he and board members Fabian Bressett and Jim Johnson will not receive copies of the comments until their regular board meeting Oct. 12.
Garretson said the board will likely hold a special meeting later in the month to review the letters and information they have received and then vote at their regular November meeting. He said that he was confident the board would extend the current moratorium on Type I projects if the vote on the ordinance did not occur before the moratorium expires.
By Jim Austin
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