HAMMOND – A recent visit to Iberdrola’s 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County found the biggest source of complaints was local television station reception, according to the Hammond Wind Committee.
Maple Ridge, according to Jenny L. Burke, an Iberdrola spokesperson, boasts 195 turbines in a 12 by four mile overlay district stretching across Martinsburg (100 turbines), Harrisburg (80), and Lowville (15). Each of the 80-meter turbines (about 400 feet tall from base to blade tip) has the capacity to produce 1.65 megawatts of power.
Hammond committee members met Ms. Burke and town supervisors from each of the three host communities, including Terry J. Thisse (Martinsburg), Stephen N. Bernat (Harrisburg), and Arleigh Rice (Lowville) at the Maple Ridge Visitor’s Center.
Iberdrola representatives at Monday’s meeting reported that Mr. Thisse hosts a turbine on his own property and Mr. Bernat hosts six turbines. Ms. Burke said in Harrisburg, where the majority of the turbines are placed, about 74 host farms of the approximately 1,000 residents have turbines, with an additional 100 ‘good neighbor’ agreements as well. She explained that neighboring landowners are paid anywhere from $300 to several thousand dollars a year to allow turbines closer to their property than the local law calls for.
Benefits that were attributed to Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements between Iberdrola and the host communities included:
– stabilizing tax rates;
– the purchase of new town highway equipment;
– additional services for host community residents;
– and Historical Preservation projects, such as church renovations.
At the visitor’s center, Ms. Burke provided a presentation on the construction process, and pointed out that blades were currently being replaced on 59 turbines at the Maple Ridge Wind Farm.
Participants also had the opportunity to reflect on how they interpreted noise levels, noting that within range of the visitor’s center were three turbines, one each at 730 feet away, 1,150 feet away, and a third at 1,850 feet away.
“We could carry on normal conversation with no interruptions,” said Michele W. McQueer, committee tri-chair.
Ms. Burke also said an Iberdrola employee served as a monitor for the wind farm, constantly regulating turbine operation and weather forecasts.
She said Maple Ridge had experienced “no instances of blade throw,” and said the facility could be “shut down during icy events.”
Ronald R. Papke, another committee tri-chair, said that while the Lowville area featured rolling hills that hid the turbines from residence to residence, Hammond contains flatter topography.
Committee member Merritt V. Young, who did not attend the Maple Ridge visit, questioned the productiveness of “just going with what Iberdrola lined up,” and said that the Maple Ridge project featured “15 conflicts of interest,” including community officials being paid “7.2 million.”
The main complaint, according to Mr. Papke, that the three town supervisors reported, involved local television reception, specifically channels 7 and 50.
Ms. Burke said that the problem is ongoing and that both Iberdrola and television officials are working on it.
“We’ve learned a lot since the Maple Ridge project,” she said, adding that she sees improvements in the future.
Allan P. Newell, committee member, said he had spoken with Channel 7’s chief engineer, who told him any residence with a turbine between it and the television signal would be adversely affected.
The wind committee meets again on Nov. 1, with sound and health being scheduled talking points. Save the River President Elizabeth Raisbeck is also expected to make a presentation on her group’s request for a three-year wind power development moratorium along the St. Lawrence River.