Reunion Power has sweetened the pot in Cherry Valley, offering to cover all residents’ electricity costs – about half their monthly bills – up to $40 a month for the next 20 years.
“We believe we’ve come up with a very creative way to work cooperatively with the entire town,” David Little, Reunion’s vice president, told a press conference that preceded a two-hour “Economic Benefits Open House” at the community center in the former school.
The stipend is based on the 5,800 kilowatt hours the average New York State home uses monthly; any home that uses less than that on average will not have to pay for electricity. Businesses are excluded, and the offer is contingent on the successful development of 24 turbines on East Hill.
“Not only will Cherry Valley residents be able to say that their homes are powered 100 percent by wind power from the East Hill Wind Farm,” he said, “but the average Cherry Valley homeowner will have an electricity supply cost of zero.”
Electricity only makes up half people’s monthly NYSEG bills – the rest is transmission costs, service fees and so on – so Reunion’s payment will be 50 percent of the bill that arrives in the mail, Little said later.
The open house came two days after the town board’s uneventful public hearing on a proposed wind ordinance that includes setbacks Reunion says make its project untenable.
The hearing lasted 10 minutes, with every speaker, except Little, supporting the restrictive ordinance. A vote on the ordinance will occur in mid-December.
Following the open house, Garretson said he believes the wind ordinance would still make wind-power development tenable in Cherry Valley.
Town board member Fabian Bressett III was non-committal about how he may vote on the ordinance, saying he supports “what is going to help the whole township.”
For his part, Little said at evening’s end: “I’m very pleased. I thought it was great. We saw some new faces.”
About 75 people attended the open house, but it appeared few minds were changed.
Greg Noonan, a member of the Advocates for Cherry Valley, which opposes the turbines, said: “Our family’s been here since 1938. How much are they willing to spend to own our souls?”
His wife, Joan, added: “After looking at the photographs of the projected construction, I’m more against it than ever. It doesn’t matter how much they pay, it will not make up for the losses.”
“The view and peace and quiet is worth more than the subsidy,” said Christine Cornwell. “We built our house on our own. We didn’t get a mortgage for wind turbines.”
And Jim Kosinski said: “Do you want to look at all those towers and get their package? Or would you rather build three of our own towers and get a bigger package.”
However, Donna Labree said she arrived supporting the windmills and left supporting them even more, adding she would not directly benefit from the project.
“The people I’ve talked to say there is no noise and, if there is, it’s a whoosh,” she said. “I was for it tonight and I’m still for it.”
At the sessions, Little described how Reunion has teamed up with NYSEG Solutions to structure the new deal.
He was accompanied by NYSEG Solutions’ James DiStefano, who said, “Through deregulation, New York State has made it possible for residential customers to choose their electricity supplier.
“Once an agreement is finalized,” he continued, “customers will be able to receive the benefits of the wind farm simply by switching to NYSEG Solutions as their energy supplier.”
By BREN MIOSEK and RUSS HONICKER
1 December 2006
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