CLINTON – The Wind Facility Planning Board here approved the Horizon Wind Farm turbine variance Thursday night.
The decision came after months of reviewing the proposal, which scales back the plan’s original footprint, going from 109 Suzon S88 407-foot turbines to 74 Vestas V112 492-foot turbines. The total acreage decreases from 17,000 to about 11,500.
Output will increase 0.9 megawatts, going from 2.1 to 3 per turbine.
NEW NOISE STUDY
To get approval, Horizon Wind Farm’s Marble River Project Manager Daniel Fitzgerald supplied Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, the engineering consulting firm hired by the town, with an updated noise study.
During the September meeting, the wind board, Camie McGraw from Conestoga-Rovers and Charles Malcolm from Hodgson Russ law firm agreed that too much of the original study data was based on projections, not actual figures.
Fitzgerald said Vestas, the company manufacturing the turbines, guarantees the values in the noise study, and he provided the board and CRA with a revised study.
Based on the revised study, McGraw said that most homes within the footprint will actually see a decrease in noise level.
“Some will see an increase, but not enough for the human ear to hear. At this point, we are satisfied with their noise study and find no reason not to go forward.”
The wind board did require a new setback for the variance proposal, which mandates that turbines be constructed at least 600 feet from the nearest non-participating landowner and open and usable public road.
The variance passed, stating that condition. If Horizon violates that permit, Malcolm said, there would be due process, and if found guilty, the company would be subject to take down the turbine.
Five turbines in the current plan fall within 600 feet of those conditions. However, two of those turbines – one near Robare Pond Road and another near Swamp Road – were deemed OK, since Highway Superintendent Matthews Stevens does not classify those roads as usable public road. One turbine will be moved to accommodate the new setback, while the other two that come within 600 feet of non-participating residents are still being considered. Fitzgerald said the two landowners may be approached with a contract option to stay within the setback, but nothing is final yet.
Other concerns from the previous meeting were also addressed, such as the sound coming from the wind park’s substation. But McGraw said that noise was included in the revised noise study and did not exceed the town’s noise law.
But Chad Garrow of Churubusco said the study is unfair, since Conestoga-Rovers did the original study for Noble’s current wind park, which has generated several noise complaints from town residents.
“The noise problem hasn’t been solved in the first project,” he said during the meeting.
Wind board Chairman Terry Cayea shot down Garrow’s complaint, saying it didn’t pertain to the Horizon variance proposal.
“I agree there were some flaws in the Noble project,” Cayea said. “We’ve gotten really carried away with Noble and noise levels and some nightmares that have happened.”
He pointed out that these meetings and requests for new studies were to prevent the same issues with the Marble River project.
“I feel it’s not in the best interest of the people because the same company Noble used is doing this study,” Garrow said after the meeting. “Noble has not fixed their noise issues. Before you put more into this town, correct the problem that is here.”
Richard Harriman of Churubusco pointed out that the Vestas V112 was listed as No. 1 among a list of the top 10 rated turbines. He also noted that Vestas is one of the leading wind-turbine developers in the world.
“My feeling is that Vestas is a very reputable company.”
Fitzgerald was pleased that the variance passed and said they want to ensure all permits before setting a construction date.
“We’ve been given the green light for the modification from the (Suzlon) S88 to the V112.”
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