Construction of wind turbines within sight of Otsego Lake may begin this spring as Community Energy Inc. moves forward with its Jordanville Wind Farm.
The project, which has been in the works since 2003, calls for 68, two-megawatt wind turbines to be erected in the towns of Warren and Stark in Herkimer County.
In Otsego County, Advocates for Springfield and Otsego 2000 have objected to the project as designed.
The Jordanville Wind Farm is in the last stages of a review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. A draft environmental-impact statement was issued earlier this year, and a supplement to this document was accepted Nov. 13 by the lead agency for the project, the Warren Town Board.
“We anticipate starting construction this spring and hope to finish by the end of the year,” Kristin Sullivan of Fly Creek, a development associate with Community Energy, said Tuesday.
That board will accept public comments on the supplemental draft EIS until mid-December. By January, the SEQR process may be complete, clearing the way for construction to begin when the weather allows.
Sullivan said that in contrast to Cherry Valley, where a proposal to install 24 wind turbines has met stiff opposition, most officials and residents in Stark and Warren approve of this larger project.
“I think people see the benefits,” she said.
Landowners will be paid for having turbines on their property and municipalities in Herkimer County will receive money through a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that is still being worked out, she said.
“I don’t know exactly what the PILOT amount will be, but it should be a couple of thousand dollars per megawatt,” she said.
Each turbine will stand about 380 feet to the tip of an upturned blade and will weigh about 340 tons, Sullivan said.
The turbines’ weight has been a concern because the project area is known to have limestone sinkholes, she said, but engineers have concluded this problem can be minimized with careful siting.
Silos, which weigh more when filled than a turbine, have been standing in the region for years, she noted.
Community Energy is a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish firm that is one of the largest renewable-energy firms in the world, and the parent company’s experts will help guide this project, Sullivan said.
Although opposition to the Jordanville Wind Farm has been muted compared to the outcry in Cherry Valley, not everyone likes the project.
Sue Brander, of Stark, heads an opposition group called Advocates for Stark, which questions the need for and the likely efficiency of the turbines.
She and others in the group are concerned about low-frequency sound emitted by the huge turbines and the effect the project will have on water quality and property values, Brander said.
The World Health Organization has concluded there are health risks associated with low-frequency sound, and local laws will not adequately protect people from this hazard, she said.
“They’re building what amounts to a large factory in a residential area,” Brander said.
The groundwater in southern Herkimer County is pristine but may be compromised when the large concrete bases for the turbines are poured, she said.
Brander said she also worries that property values will fall as the turbines rise.
“I think we’re already seeing that here,” she said.
In contrast, Sullivan cited two reports that conclude that property values are not seriously affected by wind farms.
Sullivan said the turbines in the project will be capable of powering more than 50,000 homes, but Brander called this figure deceiving because the turbines usually run at less than full efficiency.
“It’s closer to 5,000 homes, and that’s not much of a bargain for $150 million.” Brander said.
Advocates for Stark has allies in Otsego County, where the Advocates for Springfield and Otsego 2000 have come out against the project as currently designed.
Martha Frey, executive director of Otsego 2000, said Tuesday that the project should be downsized and/or the turbines relocated to minimize their effect on regional views.
In August, the group’s board of directors voted to oppose the project, with publicity and legal action in coordination with the Advocates For Stark, if Community Energy does not mitigate the project’s (article ends)
By Tom Grace
Cooperstown News Bureau
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