Reunion Power will hold an open house Wednesday to discuss benefits that Cherry Valley may receive if a proposed 24-turbine wind farm is built on East Hill in the town.
The open house will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Teen Cafe in the Cherry Valley Community Center, according to Marion Trieste, a consultant to Reunion.
“We’ve had a number of public meetings, but this won’t be like that,” she said. “This is a chance for people to talk one-on-one to find out about project benefits, like how they can reduce their electric bills.”
Previously, Reunion proposed reducing people’s electric bills by 25 percent if the project is ultimately approved. At or before Wednesday’s forum, an additional proposed benefit to reduce electricity bills may be announced, she said.
Representatives from NYSEG Solutions will be at the open house to discuss the electricity discount program.
Other benefits for town and county residents, including a proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement, will be discussed, Trieste said.
Reunion has proposed paying at least $300,000 a year in lieu of taxes if the $100 million project goes forward. The proposed PILOT agreement has provisions for increasing that amount if the wind farm is highly productive, and the company estimates it will contribute about $350,000 per year to the town, county, and possibly to Cherry Valley-Springfield Central School.
The company’s open house comes as the Cherry Valley Town Board considers adopting a wind ordinance that would govern how wind farms operate. Earlier this year, the town’s Planning Board crafted a proposed ordinance that company officials have said is too restrictive in at least two areas: setbacks required from neighbors’ property lines and allowable noise levels.
The proposed ordinance was praised by most speakers at a public hearing this fall, and the town board has amended it without removing the clauses to which the company objects. A public hearing on those proposed changes was scheduled for Monday night.
Reunion also has launched a program to pay $2,000 a year to the neighbors of parcels where wind turbines would be sited, an initiative that was praised Monday by project opponent Nicholas Pressly.
“I think this is a good compromise by the company,” said Pressly, a member of the Cherry Valley Advocates.
If the town adopts a wind ordinance that protects the community and Reunion is able to reach agreement with people who would live near the turbines, as well as landowners who will have turbines on their property, Pressly said, then his objections to the project would be minimized.
“This is what I’ve asked them to do all along, so I’m not going to turn around and complain,” he said.
Andrew Minnig, another member of the Cherry Valley Advocates, said he believes opposition to the wind farm remains firm, despite Reunion’s latest overtures.
In October, Reunion announced it joined forces with Edison Mission Energy, a comparative giant in the wind industry.
Trieste said that representatives from Mission, as well as Reunion, plan to be at Wednesday’s forum.
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
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