The towns of Clinton and Ellenburg have accepted a supplemental environmental impact statement from Marble River Wind Farm showing more than 200 changes in plan.
“Some minor, some substantive,” said Project Manager Charles Turlinski.
It’s the details, he said, “that make the difference between chaos and order, a project that fits into a community or doesn’t fit.”
Most alterations to the 19,000-acre project “” a joint venture of Horizon Wind Energy and AES-Acciona Energy NY, LLC. “” are minor ones, to the roads that will lead to each of the total 209 wind turbines, Turlinski said.
In some cases, he said, turbine location was moved, with some shifted to work around wetlands, others for better wind collection and some in response to comments on the initial environmental impact study.
The adjustments resulted in one fewer tower in Clinton, now with 88, and one more in Ellenburg, bringing that total to 21.
And, said Turlinski, “there’s now not one turbine with permanent impact in the whole project.”
That means no tower sites, including those in wetlands, need fill to make them work.
In its most significant change, Marble River will run the collection line that connects the proposed Patnode Road substation to the northeast corner of the project overhead instead of underground, as previously planned.
Agencies responding to the first environmental statement felt there would be too much impact caused by underground transmission, Turlinski said, because that type of arrangement limits the number of turbines connected to one line. Marble River would have had to run several parallel lines, he said, to serve all the wind towers.
Overhead, only one line is needed.
Road adjustments were often made to convenience the landowner, Turlinski said.
“We walked the site with every (one),” he said. “Sometimes you can’t do everything the owner wants “Â¦ but you want them to like what they’ve got on their land the next 30 years.”
That meant using existing farm roads, he said, or adjusting truck turnarounds.
With 36 loads of cement required for one turbine base, Turlinski said, “you’d better have your logistics down.”
That’s why Marble River took several months longer than first planned to hammer down details, said Anne Waling, the development associate with the project, whose primary function is working with the 87 landowners leasing 137 parcels to Marble River.
“It pays to take time and do it right,” she said.
As well, Turlinski said, “lenders want to see your homework.”
That includes research.
In January, Marble River erected a 460-foot-high temporary meteorological tower just south of the Quebec border on Clinton Mills Road to collect wind data at 399 feet, which is wing-tip height for the proposed turbines, and beyond.
“That is the tallest met pole in America,” Turlinski noted.
Earlier data had shown some unexpected high-level turbulence, but the new tower demonstrated to the turbine manufacturer that the proposed units can handle it.
“Everyone is comfortable with the turbulence factor,” he said.
There’s a 30-day comment period on the supplemental impact study, then Marble River will respond.
Turlinski hopes the State Environmental Quality Review process will be complete by October.
Meanwhile, Turlinski said, the permitting process moves forward in earnest, with a meeting coming up on the joint wetlands permit required by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and paperwork being readied for the Public Service Commission.
The company recently made a deposit of $4.6 million to fund upgrades to the New York Power Authority transmission system, Turlinski said.
And Marble River hopes to complete negotiations for payments in lieu of taxes and host-community agreements with the Clinton County Industrial Development Agency by January 2008.
May 2008 remains the target date for construction.
“It’s getting increasingly exciting,” Turlinski said.
By Suzanne Moore
31 July 2007
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