A new type of farm could be gracing the rural landscape of Scipio within the next five years.
Shell WindEnergy Group, with its national offices in Houston, is considering a 50-windmill wind farm for an area on a ridge just east of Route 34 in Scipio.
The first step is putting two to three temporary towers on the location to measure the wind.
Representatives of the group a subsidiary of Shell Co. made a presentation to the Scipio Town Board Nov. 14. They are requesting a zone change for the site near Hunter Road so they can place devices there to measure wind velocity and direction.
A public hearing on the zoning change is set for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at Scipio Town Hall.
Scipio Supervisor Charles Howell said if Shell WindEnergy wants to build the wind farm, it would have to go through more public hearings and environmental review.
Shell WindEnergy doesn’t have any wind farm projects in New York. The wind farms in Madison and Lewis counties are operated by other companies.
Timothy O’Leary, Shell WindEnergy communications manager, said the company found out about Scipio by looking at wind prospecting maps.
If the zoning change is approved, the towers with the testing devices would be in place collecting data for about two years, O’Leary said.
If the wind farm becomes a reality, the towers would be built on land owned by Scipio farmers. O’Leary said Shell would lease the land from the farmers.
He would not say how much such a rental agreement would bring to the farmer.
Shell also would pay town, school and county taxes for the towers.
“It’s basically a win-win for the town,” Howell said.
Payments could be substantial, especially for a smaller town like Scipio.
Earlier this year, The Post-Standard reported that PG&E Generating had agreed to pay $30,000 each in lieu of taxes to the town of Madison and the Madison school district for its windmills in Madison County. The town of Fenner receives $150,000 from the operators of 20 windmills.
Nearly all of Scipio is in the Southern Cayuga school district.
Howell said Shell representatives were planning to take Scipio officials to see the wind farm in Stockbridge.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Howell said of the proposed wind farm. “The country needs energy, and I don’t think they’ll look too bad.”
Opponents of wind farms say they are ugly and harm the beauty of rural areas, are noisy and reduce tourism.
By Debra J. Groom
4 December 2007
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