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Town looks at courting windmill project  

The town of Carrollton has joined the growing list of places in which energy companies are thinking about building electricity-generating wind turbines.

Five local communities have been approached by wind energy companies that want to put up wind turbines. The turbines are giant windmills perched on steel towers 300 to 400 feet high. Many area residents have spoken out against the turbines as a blight on the skyline, create noise pollution and are a danger to migrating birds.

But in Carrollton residents say they’ll welcome the large electric windmills as long as they generate cash for the town that will help cut taxes.

The Town Board held a public hearing Wednesday to review a proposed local law to control the building of wind turbines to generate electricity.

Supervisor Joyce E. Lucco said a representative from Tom Golisano’s Empire State Wind Energy LLC visited Carrollton and the village of Limestone in June to let officials know the company is looking for a spot to build a wind farm in the area. The village of Limestone is in the town of Carrollton.

No plans have been finalized. Mrs. Lucco said the board could vote to adopt the local law during their regular meeting next Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 7 p.m.

Mrs. Lucco said the Town Board wanted to have a local law in place first to control the development and protect residents.

“We feel this is certainly worth investigating but I insisted that we get a law in place first,” Mrs. Lucco said.

The local law being reviewed requires wind towers to be built no closer than 1,000 feet from the nearest residence and 500 feet from the nearest private property line.

“We wanted to be sure they were far enough away from a residence because you don’t want someone putting a windmill on your property line,” she said.

None of the 14 town residents at the hearing spoke out against allowing electric windmills in Carrollton. In fact, they’re hoping taxes charged on any future wind farm will help lower their tax bills.

Resident Carol Songer said the town needs to make some money.

“I just think we have to do something because our taxes have gone sky high,” she said. “Pretty soon nobody will be left in Limestone.”

Town Board member James Kirk said the town didn’t raise its taxes in 2007, but residents are struggling to pay their county and school tax bills.

“We’ve done what we can to keep taxes down,” he said. “But the town and county taxes come on one bill. All people know is that their taxes have gone up.”

Town attorney Ronald Ploetz said the Town Board decided to opt out of an incentive program to forgive local taxes to any company that wants to build a wind farm in Carrollton.

“Any new commercial structure will be taxed,” he said.

Resident Dave Frederick urged the Town Board to consider adding a provision to the local law to charge wind energy companies an up-front host fee instead of taxes. Mr. Frederick said the arrangement would ensure Carrollton receives the entire payment any company might make instead of having to share property taxes or payments in lieu of taxes with the county and school district.

While he lives in the town, Mr. Frederick is also a member of the Limestone Wind Mill Committee which formed earlier this year when it became clear wind energy companies are interested in the area. He said there isn’t enough room in the village to locate a wind farm but the hills in the town have room and wind, but maybe not enough wind.

Mr. Frederick said wind energy companies like sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph to ensure their wind turbines generate the maximum amount of electricity. They then sell the electricity to Niagara Mohawk. More wind means more money. Mr. Frederick said winds of 6 to 7 mph are common on the hilltops in Carrollton.

“I don’t know if it will happen because the wind speeds are so marginal,” he said of a wind farm in Carrollton, but he added a wind farm would be good for the town and village.

“If the town saves money, the village saves money,” he said. “We need something in this town and if it doesn’t affect anyone then why not let them build a wind farm here?”

Mr. Frederick said within a 100-mile radius of Carrollton, 80 wind energy projects are either under way or being considered.

By John T. Eberth

Olean Times Herald

2 August 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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