CENTERVILLE – The windpark project is not a done deal, Centerville Town Supervisor Frank Sardina told the 50 or so people at Monday night’s public windmill hearing.
The hearing on the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for a proposal by Noble Environmental Power to build a 100.5-megawatt, 67-windmill park in the towns of Centerville and part of Rushford (Centerville is the lead agency) was held with little agitation from the community, said Sardina. Citizens still have eight days to submit their questions on the draft statement.
“It went very, very well,” Sardina said. “Some of the arguments submitted were the same old, same old, but the people presenting those arguments were well-behaved and we were courteous to them.”
However, Sardina said, a resident farmer was adamant that the windpark project is a ‘done deal.’
“We’ve heard those rumors from the beginning,” Sardina said. “What you have here is a board that is just following the process. We aren’t for the project one way or another. We’re simply for the investigation. Until this project says no to us, we’re going to continue to look at it for the good of Centerville. In the two years we’ve worked on this project, the board hasn’t said it’s for or against windmills.”
Sardina concluded that the man who suggested the project was a foregone conclusion was satisfied with the board’s commitment.
Other questions at the meeting concerned setback, flicker effect, ice throw, bird migration and noise pollution, which have all been addressed by the board, Sardina said.
“We tried to help some people who asked if we had looked at noise, flicker effect and setback and we suggested they support their opinions with facts and that they think about where they are getting their facts,” he said.
A transcript of the meeting will be completed in about a week and will be made available to the public at the town hall.
County Legislative Chairman Curt Crandall of District 1 (including Centerville), who attended the meeting, agreed with the supervisor.
“It wasn’t a contentious meeting,” Crandall said. “People voiced their concerns and the board answered their questions. Those attending the meeting were about evenly mixed for and against the project.”
No decision concerning the construction of the project will be made until after the process the board established a year ago is complete, Sardina said, and the plan’s goals have to be met by Noble Environmental Power or any other contractor seeking approval for an economic development project in Centerville.
At this point in the process, Noble is required to respond to all the questions which were brought up at the hearing and issue a report summary to the board. The board will then decide whether or not all the questions have been answered to its satisfaction. If it is satisfied, the board will pass the environmental impact statement. If not, it’s back to the drawing board for Noble.
Sardina believes the board will decide on the statement in June.
No shovel full of dirt will be turned over until the board’s other requirements are met.
In September, Sardina hopes the town will be looking at the host community agreement (HCA) and the road maintenance during the construction agreement and the possibility of Noble paying a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to the county.
Basing its host agreement on others in the area, Sardina said Centerville was offered $8,000 per megawatt from Noble, or $800,000 annually per 100 megawatts. The project, according to Noble, is to be a 100.5-megawatt production.
Noble has made a similar agreement with Wyoming County. In the town of Eagle, it agreed to pay $640,000 a year for 15 years, Sardina said, with rest, or $160,000, of the money going toward the school and county.
“We’ve been pushing for our payment to last the ‘life’ of the project. It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “If it’s going to be there for 50 years, it’s right to reimburse the town, the money will be there.”
Sardina expects those agreements to be reached in the fall and in December or January the town will look at its statement of finding regarding the windmill project.
“The town board can still say no at that point, but if the town says no, Noble can go to the state,” he said. “It’s against the law to have a vote on economic developments. We want people to understand that we are their neighbors and that we want what is only going to be good for the town. We’re there neighbors.”
Looking at the matter globally. Sardina said, “Windmills are like giant pinwheels. I sort of look at them as a passive answer to some of our energy needs. In addition, it will help Centerville. Wind power will only be a dent in supplying our energy needs, but if we don’t make dents then we won’t do anything. My attitude is make these dents.”
Two years ago, Noble Environmental Power approached the Town Board suggesting a project. At the time the board decided to put together an independent committee and drafted a plan for economic development projects to determine the town’s role.
Written comments on the DEIS may be submitted until 5 p.m. April 3 to Daniel Spitzer of the law firm Hodgson and Russ, 140 Pearl St., Suite 100, Buffalo, NY 14202.
By Kathryn Ross
Concerns from farmers
By BRIAN QUINN
BELMONT – The Allegany County Soil and Water Conservation District board of directors says farmers are concerned about drainage issues caused by the access roads to be built during the proposal.
Board members said they have been asked by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to get involved in windpark project reviews.
“We’ve received the DEIS,” Conservation District Executive Director Fred Sinclair Jr. said during a recent board meeting. “It has good sections that talk about how to set up the roads so they don’t interfere with drainage. The concern is with the subcontractors that will be putting the sites in.”
Board member and Legislator Norman Ungermann Jr., R-Cuba, said, “When you go to build a road, you want to build it with a three- to five-degree cross slope. If you don’t have a cross slope, you wind up digging a trench and everything runs down that trench.”
The Centerville Town Board is the lead agency on the proposed project. Sherry Grugel, Noble’s Western New York community outreach associate, said construction will mostly be in Centerville.
“It’s supposed to be slated for the beginning of next year,” she said of construction. “It takes about 3.5 years to put one of these things together.
“It’s really only a tiny portion of Rushford,” Grugel said. “We’re not going anywhere near Rushford Lake.”
She said there are certain conditions necessary for windmill project development. The wind speed must be 14-18 miles per hour. Secondly, can Noble reasonably connect to National Grid? Also, the project would not move forward without an 80-percent-or-better approval rating. Finally, it would need support of the local government.
“Those four things keep us from (starting) too many projects or getting involved in the wrong one,” she said.
27 March 2008
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