After an unsuccessful Wind Advisory Committee, the Town Board has a plan that is expected to yield a decision about wind energy by July.
Phase 1 of the project involves education and research, said Councilman Douglas Bloom. The board will host a series of forums, separate from the town meetings, to inform the public and allow them to voice their opinions.
In an effort to involve community youth in the wind energy debate, students from the Albion Central School District will help administer the forums, Bloom said. Students in the technology department may be enlisted to create digital simulations of what the proposed 400-foot towers would look like against the Orleans County skyline.
“This is going to affect future generations,” Bloom said. “We’re reaching out to them to see if we can collaborate.”
Phase 2 of the project will be one of analysis, taking the financial and environmental impacts of the towers into consideration. That includes the impact on wildlife, soil and water and the health of local residents, Bloom said.
Phase 3 will bring legislative action to create regulations – a necessary precaution whether or not the town allows commercial wind developers to build. Attorney Dan Spitzer, who is also working with several other municipalities in the county, will again be hired, Bloom said. At that point, the board will make a decision for or against wind energy in the Town of Albion.
“The challenge here is to make an intelligent decision,” Bloom said.
The international Dublin-based company Airtricity has proposed constructing 55 to 80 wind towers in the towns of Gaines and Albion. The company is seeking to build in response to Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s call for 25 percent green energy by 2013.
The Albion Wind Advisory Committee was formed last spring under Town Supervisor Eugene Christopher with the purpose of making a recommendation. The committee was disbanded in late November before it made a decision.
The Gaines Wind Advisory Committee was more successful and, in a majority 6-2 vote, decided wind energy is not in the best interest of Gaines. Both Gaines and Albion have one-year moratoriums in place before any official decisions will be made.
Given the towns’ continued debate over the issue, completing Bloom’s three-phase wind energy plan in six months may be a challenge, said Albion Town Attorney John Gavenda.
“I think if we set our minds to it, we can do it,” said Town Supervisor Judy Koehler.
By Nicole Coleman
29 January 2008
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