Making Marble River Wind Farm a reality isn’t exactly a breeze, but officials say the process is right on track.
“We’re looking to be permitted for construction – though we presume no agency approvals – in late spring, early summer,” said Charles Turlinski, project manager.
Marble River wants to build a total 109 two-megawatt wind turbines: 89 in the Town of Clinton and 20 in the Town of Ellenburg.
That endeavor is in addition to the Noble Environmental Power projects nearing approval in both those towns, along with one in Altona.
It’s hoped, said Turlinski, that Marble River will build in 2008, pending resolution of a few challenges now facing the project.
One of those, he said, is the wind itself, which has shown an unexpected high-level turbulence in data gathered over the past year.
“It’s much more pronounced at this site than we expected,” Turlinski said.
The Town of Clinton recently gave Marble River a permit for a 460-foot meteorological pole – well above the height of the proposed turbines and their blades – that will allow more comprehensive sampling over the next six to eight months.
“It may not be a problem at all,” Turlinski said.
Or it may be the action of the North Country wind might need a different type of turbine from what was previously thought.
The other hurdle, Turlinski said, is one that needs working out with Noble, whose easements in Ellenburg surround some of Marble River’s proposed turbine sites, blocking required setbacks.
“It’s a challenge we need to solve soon,” he said.
Noble Managing Director John Quirke said discussions on that issue are ongoing.
“But no conclusion has been reached as of yet.”
Otherwise, said Turlinski, Marble River’s progress has been steady.
Last spring, the two towns deemed Marble River’s draft environmental impact statement complete. Taking comments over the summer, the wind-energy company addressed those concerns in the field through the fall as crews surveyed and staked out turbine sites, access roads and collection lines, fine-tuning their projected locations within feet.
Last week, Marble River took the State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a walkover of the project.
“We worked for a year preparing for them,” Turlinski said. “Our goal at the end of the field season was to be at the final layout, and we’re there.
“We’re ready to do a good solid push through permitting this winter.”
In November, Horizon will conduct walkovers of easements with its 87 landowners “to make sure they understand what we’re doing,” Turlinski said.
Some 20,000 temporary wooden stakes, along with orange, blue and white flags, mark the proposed work to be done.
STILL TO GO
Yet to be completed is the State Environmental Quality Review process, acquisition of certificate of public convenience and distribution from the Public Service Commission and joint wetlands permits from the DEC and Corps of Engineers.
Negotiations between Noble and the Clinton County Industrial Development Agency for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements and between Noble and the towns for host-community agreements have paved the way for those of Marble River.
“We expect those terms to be the same,” Turlinski said.
But Marble River won’t move forward on negotiations of its own, he said, “until we have a final layout.”
Nor will the company stockpile turbines and other equipment ahead of construction, as Noble has done, Turlinski said.
At present, Marble River’s headquarters is in Northern Adirondack Comfort Motel in Ellenburg Corners. The site of its yet-to-be-built operations center hasn’t been finalized, though under consideration is a spot on Route 189 near the Town of Clinton hamlet of Churubusco.
In Marble River’s employ, now that the field crews are done for the year, are between six and eight full-time workers.
“Once we really get into the pre-construction stage, that will double,” Turlinski said.
About 400 workers will come on board when the real building starts, he said.
“Things are rolling along. We’re happy to be where we are.”
By: Suzanne Moore
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