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Wind turbine project is a go in Centerville

Work on constructing 70 large wind turbines to produce electricity could start in less than two years, said Centerville Town Supervisor Frank Sardina.

The Town Board passed a local law on Nov. 21 to allow for wind-generated electricity within the town, Mr. Sardina said Tuesday.

“Overall, it looks like if things continue, we’ll be breaking ground in the spring of 2008″ at the earliest, Mr. Sardina said.

The company looking to construct the towers, Noble Environmental Power, is working with Centerville land owners to determine the best locations for the wind turbines, said project manager Mike Beckner. Regulations with several agencies would have to be satisfied as well before the project moves forward.

The towers stand 265 feet high from the ground to the centerline of the generator and 380 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade. Between 60 and 67 wind turbines are expected to be erected within Centerville, Mr. Beckner said.

The towers being considered for Centerville could generate between 1.5 megawatts and 1.65 megawatts of power each, he said. A megawatt is enough electricity to supply the needs of about 225 to 300 households. A typical nuclear power plant generates about 500 megawatts of electricity. The electricity would be sold by Noble Environmental Power to the New York State power grid.

The placement of the towers will depend on land elevation in an attempt to catch as much wind as possible per unit, Mr. Beckner said. On average, the towers will stand about 1,000 feet apart.

“A higher elevation typically results in stronger winds,” Mr. Beckner said. In Centerville, the ideal elevations for the wind turbines are 1,850 feet and higher. The highest elevation in Centerville is about 2,200 feet, he said. The towers would be visible from a distance because they would stand above the tree line.

Mr. Beckner said Noble Environmental Power will also seek consent from individual landowners to place the towers.

Landowners would receive a “substantial payment” over 20 years for a land easement, Mr. Sardina said.

Mr. Beckner said there are about 70 to 80 landowners currently discussing land easements with Noble Environmental Power. About 75 percent of the town’s residents have been contacted regarding the proposed project.

“The feedback has been quite positive,” he said.

A minority of town residents have voiced opposition to the project, he said.

“This will go down in the history of Centerville as one of its largest projects,” Mr. Sardina said.

The last significant project of this magnitude was the railroad coming through Centerville, he said.

The town has been investigating the possibility of wind turbines for more than a year. The wind turbines will still allow residents to continue with their “way of life,” he said.

“We’re selling wind. Where else can you have a commodity you can sell over and over again?” he said.

By Daniel LeBlanc, Olean Times Herald