Oswego County landowners worry that a power line would lower their property values
Plans to run power from a wind turbine project in Lake Ontario through Oswego County are meeting surprise and resistance.
“It’ll ruin my property value,” said Kathleen Schneider, who with her husband owns 55 acres on Castor Road in Albion.
The Schneiders received a letter last month from Upstate NY Power Corp. telling them they would be contacted about selling a right of way on their land. They threw it out.
Later they learned that Upstate NY Power has applied to install 77 wind turbines on Galloo Island, 12 miles off the shore of Lake Ontario.
Two representatives for the project visited them Monday to say that Upstate NY Power would pay $4,000 an acre for a 150-foot-wide swath to accommodate a 230-kilovolt power line. And, they were told, if they didn’t agree, the company might use the power of eminent domain. A letter included a deadline of Feb. 25. The date was underlined, she said.
“They made it sound like a done deal,” she said. But the Schneiders didn’t sign.
Eben Forbes, who owns a farm in Richland, didn’t sign, either. Like the Schneiders, he hadn’t heard of the plan before he received a letter. “I thought it was a joke,” he said.
It’s no joke. Upstate NY Power is backed by Babcock & Brown, an international operation that owns 20 wind farms in nine states. The nearest one is in Bear Creek, Penn., said Matt Dallas, a spokesman for the company.
Dallas said the company wants to build a wind power project on Galloo because “it’s not in anybody’s backyard.” Migratory birds follow the lake shore, he said, so they wouldn’t be a problem for the turbines, and the entire installation would take up only 4 percent of the 2,000-acre island.
The island is in the town of Hounsfield, but power from the turbines 250 megawatts, enough to power about 100,000 homes would come ashore in Henderson and then be carried to Parish, where it would connect with larger power lines.
The route isn’t set, Dallas said. “There are a couple of different options.”
The turbine project has not gone through an approval process. “It’s pretty early stage development,” Dallas said. Work wouldn’t begin until 2010 at the earliest and would take about a year to complete, he said.
The project would create about 250 jobs during construction and 20 or so permanent jobs when finished, he said. “We always try to hire locally when we can,” he said.
The power lines wouldn’t look like the structures that carry power from Oswego County’s three nuclear plants. They would be single-pole lines that run 36 miles from the shore to Parish, Dallas said.
He also said the company, which has been around since 1977, has never used eminent domain. He said representatives contractors working for another company may have mentioned eminent domain because the law requires them to.
Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann, R-Altmar, was upset that no one involved in the project told the county. “They haven’t bothered to contact us,” he said.
“I think we thought it was fairly well known,” said Dallas, whose office is in New York City.
The Jefferson County Agricultural Development Corp. and Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District have invited Oswego County landowners to a program on dealing with the issue Thursday in Henderson.
Jay M. Matteson, Jefferson County’s agricultural coordinator, said the goal isn’t to tell people to sign up or not sign up with Upstate NY Power, but to let them know what’s involved and how to protect the agricultural value of their land if they do sign up.
By Charles McChesney
9 February 2008
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