A unique agreement for the distribution of wind-generated power has signed this week between Steuben Rural Electric Cooperative and EverPower, the developer of a proposed wind farm in the Town of Howard.
The agreement calls for EverPower to divert a small portion of the electricity generated by the 25-turbine project to REC for local use. The cooperative has a total of 6,000 members in Steuben County and western New York, and roughly 406 members in Howard.
Typically, any electricity generated by turbines in Steuben County will be sent to customers throughout the Northeast.
REC board President Gordon Foster said the agreement does not mean the REC has taken any position on the development.
“We just figured, ‘Hey, if it happens, we’d like some of the power,’” he said.
Foster said the wind power could generate electricity for the cooperative during the times the available hydropower source lessens.
According to an EverPower press release, the agreement provides REC with an undisclosed, fixed price for 10 years.
The project also reached an important milestone Thursday with the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency approving the final environmental impact statement on the project.
SCIDA consultant, Mark Taryion, of LaBella, told the board the new statement includes responses to concerns made during public comment periods. The statement also was reviewed by SCIDA’s law consultant, Harris Beach.
Wind farms have been a source of controversy since they were first proposed in 2001. Supporters say the projects provide renewable energy and important revenues for their host communities. Opponents claim the towers are inefficient generators and threaten people and the natural environment.
In some cases, opposition has also centered on town officials’ personal involvement in the turbines. In both Prattsburgh and Howard, residents have objected to the possible influence of members of town boards who are also considering leases with a wind developer.
The new environmental study locates several turbine sites owned by Howard Councilmen Lowell Smith and Bill Hatch and several town planning board members.
SCIDA’s approval Thursday will be followed by a final statement issued by the board, likely before the end of the year.
Howard Town Supervisor Don Evia said the town must still negotiate a hosting agreement, with SCIDA setting up a tax payment agreement for the firm.
By Mary Perham
27 October 2007
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