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Wind farm idea stalls out in Hopkinton; test device removed

HOPKINTON – The town was ready with open arms, but a wind farm isn’t blowing in.

The sparsely populated town was home to a wind project test tower since 2005, but the instrument is gone, and so is the interest. The company now is focusing on the west end of St. Lawrence County.

The developers of Lewis County’s Maple Ridge Wind Farm took down their testing device on Route 11B because of less-than-ideal conditions and the realization that a competing project in Clinton County will get the needed access to power lines.

“The wind was sort of OK out there,” said William M. Moore, Maple Ridge project developer. “It wasn’t great.”

Access to the New York Power Authority’s 230-kilovolt transmission lines will be scooped up by the Marble River Wind Farm being developed in Clinton and Ellenburg. The 109-tower project, to go on line by next year, will take up the available space on the lines, leaving Hopkinton with no way to transfer power.

The company likes what it sees in Hammond, where it has a test tower on County Route 6 near the St. Lawrence River. The wind is ideal, but the nearest transmission line is close to Ogdensburg.

“The transmission line is a little bit of a problem,” Mr. Moore said.

The project would include about 50 towers if developed as planned.

The Hopkinton Town Council, which operates with little revenue and has seen the state buy increasingly more land within its borders, was attracted by the idea of large tax payments. The community, where roadside signs showed a divided sentiment, will be disappointed, according to a 2006-07 survey by St. Lawrence University, Canton.

The survey determined that 91 percent of the 443 responders favored development in the area. Of the 206 responders owning more than an acre, 140 were OK with having a wind tower on their property.

Town leaders were encouraged when a Canadian power investment group visited about six months ago, but that was the only correspondence. An Algonquin Power representative in Ontario said Friday that the group had no interest in the area.

A large-scale project is unlikely, but that doesn’t mean fields of smaller turbines, which produce less power and need less transmission capacity, won’t happen.

“Something smaller in Hopkinton might get developed, but we’re not actively developing that site,” Mr. Moore said.

By Corey Fram

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 06/16/2007