A proposed wind farm in Jefferson County has Oswego County residents upset because they could be forced into giving up property rights so that power lines can run from one county to the other.
The project, proposed for Galloo Island, located in the Jefferson County Town of Hounsfield, would require power lines to come ashore off Lake Ontario in Henderson and travel south through Oswego County to Parish.
Oswego County legislators have begun receiving telephone calls from angry constituents who received letters requesting the sale of right-of-ways or face eminent domain proceedings.
Upstate NY Power, the company sending the letters, has applied to install 77 wind turbines in Jefferson County.
No one from Oswego County government was made aware of the proposal, drawing the ire of Oswego County Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann. He took the opportunity to criticize area Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine, who is running for the 48th District Senate seat in Tuesday’s special election, for failing to contact county government with information about the proposed project.
“I am not pleased that Mr. Aubertine did not find it necessary to contact us in regard to this project,” Leemann said.
A meeting on the proposed wind farm was held in Jefferson County Feb. 14, the day of the legislature meeting. Because of the conflict, Leemann sent a representative while Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County sent Director Paul Forestiere. Local Assemblyman Will Barclay attended on behalf of the county, as well.
“The meeting room held 100 people and they had 150 in attendance,” Leemann said, adding that the majority of those in attendance were from Oswego County.
Because the legislature and the residents continue to be left in the dark about the project and the implications to county residents, the county will co-host an informational meeting in the near future, Leemann noted. He added that representatives of the Public Service Commission were not in attendance at the Jefferson County meeting but will be present when Oswego County holds its session, expected to be at the H. Douglas Barclay Court House in Pulaski.
“The people want to have the meeting at that end of the county,” Leemann said. “We’ll know much, much more when we have the meeting here.”
He said that he has heard that the wind turbine company is looking to see what sort of reception they get from county residents and, if they are not well-received, may find an alternate route for the power lines, although it could still be in Oswego County.
“We’ve been told the power-line trail is negotiable,” Leemann stated.
Residents who received the letters were told if they did not respond by Feb. 25, the company may use the power of eminent domain to obtain access to their properties.
Leemann said those residents should wait and not panic over the possibility of eminent-domain proceedings. The project has not been introduced to the county planning department, something that is required, he noted.
Aubertine, who has made a campaign issue about the right to access public property by others, said through a spokesperson that the local residents deserve a role in the consideration of the placement of the transmission lines.
“Darrel strongly supports wind farms and other forms of alternative energies, but also feels very strongly that local residents deserve a role in the consideration as to where the placement of transmission lines, etc. should be,” Aubertine campaign staff member Travis Proulx said Wednesday.
“He believes that his role as a public official, regardless of where he is serving, should be to help the local residents take an active role in such discussions so that local issues and concerns are heard loud and clear.”
Aubertine’s staff did not respond to other questions about the project, such as when he first became aware of it and how he would assist the residents.
by Carol Thompson
23 February 2008
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