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Canisteo hears wind presentation

A potential wind project in the Town of Canisteo would likely include 10 turbines on Swale Hill – and would stem from a potential 40-turbine project in the Town of Jasper.

Eric Miller of Invenergy discussed what the company is contemplating for Canisteo at the town board meeting Wednesday night. He said the 6-year-old, Chicago-based company has completed 13 projects, with four more to be done within the next four months. Miller said the company has been measuring wind speeds with three meteorological towers in the Jasper and one in Canisteo – on Swale Hill – for about five years.

“We think there’s good win here,” he said, adding Invenergy currently has leases with landowners totaling several thousand acres.

Miller said the 10-turbine plan for Swale Hill is very general, as is the 40 proposed for Jasper.

“A lot of it (how many will be erected) depends on the setbacks,” he said.

One challenge Invenergy is dealing with, Miller said, is with getting the power from the project to a substation, something the company is working on with NYSEG. He said he was confident that wouldn’t be an issue for much longer.

As for money being paid out from projects, Miller said the going rate in the state is $8,000 per megawatt for Payment In Lieu of Taxes agreements. Standard turbines operating now are 1.5 megawatts, he said, which equates to about $12,000 per turbine. That would mean, Miller said, 10 turbines in Canisteo would generate $120,000 for a PILOT.

“That would be the total paid for the PILOT,” he said. “That amount would be split between the town, county and school.”

Miller said no applications have been submitted yet, either for Jasper or Canisteo.

There were a number of people in the audience at the meeting, about two-thirds from the town.

Hartsville town Councilman Jim Perry was present and he cautioned the board to make sure it gets as much as it can for the project, and to work hard to get as much information as it can. He said Hartsville has had problems, not necessarily with a wind project proposed there, but with the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency working with the town.

“Dealing with the county, that’s going to be the hardest thing you’ll have to deal with,” Perry said. “With the county, it’s tough trying to get the accurate information.”

He also was critical of PILOTs that give the bulk of the funds to the county and school districts, with the town coming up short. Perry said Hartsville is slated to receive 11 percent of the PILOT revenue, while Steuben County would get 29 percent of it, and the Canisteo-Greenwood School District is in line to receive 60 percent of the payment.

“PILOTs are supposed to compensate for the additional burden the project may place on local services,” he said. “I don’t know what burden this is placing on the school districts.”

The handful of town residents in the room said they were in support of wind power, but wanted to make sure the town got its fair share of the money.

There were just a pair of people present opposed to wind power – neither of them Canisteo residents. Jerry Hedman of Howard said he’d moved to the area for its beauty and wind turbines will take away from the beauty – a message he’s delivered to other town boards in the area, including Hartsville, Howard and Jasper.

By Rob Montana

Hornell Evening Tribune

3 April 2008