March 27, 2011
New York

Wind meeting draws a crowd; Iberdrola’s Parishville, Hopkinton wind development plans draw skepticism from some

By Matt McAllister, The Journal, 27 March 2011

PARISHVILLE – Well over 100 people attended an open house Saturday on Iberdrola Renewables’ proposed North Ridge Wind Farm, many of them expressing skepticism about the benefits of the project.

Jenny L. Burke and fellow Iberdrola representative Daniel C. Murdie said the project is in its preliminary development phases in Parishville and neighboring Hopkinton, and could take three to five years to complete.

“The size of the project will depend on the availability of interconnection,” Ms. Burke said.

Iberdrola is in the process of acquiring land leases in both towns, she said, with wind test towers already in place.

A map prepared March 16 by the St. Lawrence County Planning Office shows 59 properties for which 15 different landowners have already signed wind leases.

The majority of the leases are in northern Hopkinton, with a few others smattered across Parishville.

She also told those in attendance that people should refrain from asking specific questions about the project.

That didn’t stop people from asking.

Steven M. Snell said he recently constructed a home on Sinclair Road, just off state Route 72 in Parishville. He said his property is surrounded by lease holders and he wonders what will happen to the value of his property.

Ms. Burke said Iberdrola is not seeing property value depreciation around its Maple Ridge project in Lewis County or Hardscrabble Wind Farm in Herkimer County.

“They didn’t answer one question,” Mr. Snell said after the meeting.

Tom Whitesell, Potsdam, referenced wind maps composed by the New York State Energy Research and Developent Agency.

“It says the wind speeds here are about 20 percent below the minimum needed to make such a project viable,” Mr. Whitesell said. He asked when Iberdrola’s data from the test towers would be made public.

Ms. Burke said that data is proprietary. She also said NYSERDA’s wind maps aren’t always accurate and that towers can now be constructed nearly 500 feet into the air, where wind speeds are higher.

“So bigger is better, apparently. This entire industry is a scam, just like Enron,” Mr. Whitesell said after the meeting. “All of the subsidies, and they still can’t produce the advertised energy during peak hours of operation. They can’t even operate at better than 10 percent efficiency.”

Gary Snell, Parishville, told Ms. Burke and Mr. Murdie that most people in town were not aware the proposed project was progressing. He asked why some landowners got invited to Saturday’s meeting and not others.

“Can we expect the process moving forward to be more open?” he asked.

Mr. Murdie said mailings had been sent to lease holders and that flyers were distributed throughout the community.

Parishville Planning Board Chairman Fred G. Wilhelm said he was surprised more town officials did not show up.

“We’re in the process of reviewing the town’s proposed wind law,” he said. “It’s going to be tough. As you saw, sides are already being taken. It will be important to keep an open mind, regardless of personal agendas.”

Mr. Murdie said he was pleased with the turnout.

“There was good conversation going both ways,” he said. “Everyone was cordial. That’s what I like to see.”

Questions about the project will be answered in time, Ms. Burke said.

“We’ll be sharing our expectations over the next couple of months,” she said.

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