More than 50 concerned residents crowded into the lower level of the Enfield community building Wednesday night for an informational meeting on John Rancich’s proposed wind turbine farm.
Also present at the sometimes-tense session were members of the Enfield town board and town planning board.
The meeting opened with a presentation from Rancich, who outlined some of his proposed plans and emphasized that “nothing is written in stone.”
Following Rancich, three residents vehemently stated their opposition to the plans before Town Supervisor Jean Owens had to intervene and call order to the meeting. She was forced to do this a number of times before the meeting was adjourned.
In all, six residents spoke in opposition to the proposed wind farm. Those residents were concerned about their land value, the noise the turbines will generate, the loss of their scenic views, the hazard these turbines could pose to wildlife and, in one instance, a concern that the turbines would make him physically ill.
“Enfield has been pummeled with the responsibility to cure global warming and lower mercury rates,” said Carrie Miller, of Black Oak Road.
Rancich could not answer all of the questions posed by town residents. This was another concern for residents who felt their property values are at stake.
To help answer questions at the meeting, Rancich invited Dr. John Confer, an ornithologist from Ithaca College, and Guy Krogh, a lawyer with the Ithaca firm Thaler & Thaler.
Confer spoke about the proposed towers’ potential effect on the local bird population. Confer said that, on average, only five birds die per tower per year. Currently, the United States proposes to have 200,000 wind towers by 2030, distributed evenly throughout the country.
Confer said that if 500,000 birds were killed annually by the turbines in the eastern half of the nation, it would still be far less than the 80 million birds killed by pane glass windows.
“There is no good way to get energy,” Confer said. “Power towers kill birds – some, not many. I think wind is the best way (to get energy).”
Rancich has researched the turbines for the last eight years, starting with a residential turbine on his own property that was unsuccessful, he said. He hopes to build 10 wind towers on Connecticut Hill.
“I don’t expect the community to put their money into it,” Rancich said. “But I would like to see everybody endorse (this project) as a sound, clean, environmentally friendly way to generate electricity.”
Rancich has dedicated his time and money to this project since he erected a meteorological tower on Connecticut Hill in October 2006. He estimates that he’s spent $500,000 on the project.
Rancich also told residents that he hopes the town can benefit from his work.
“I would like to set this up the same way the coal and oil companies do,” Rancich said. “That would mean setting up a footprint around the land that these turbines are on, and everybody on that land would get benefit payments from the energy company.”
Owens said that the town board and the town planning board need to research the project before they move forward.
By Tim Ashmore
4 May 2007