If a large wind turbine farm is constructed in Hopkinton and Parishville, property owners would receive $8,000 to $10,000 per year for each wind turbine placed on their land.
Representatives of Iberdrola Renewables, the world’s largest renewable power generation company, said each two-megawatt turbine atop a 100 meter tower would provide landowners with annual income.
The announcement was made Saturday during a public meeting at the Parishville Fire Hall to which a number of landowners in the area were invited.
Iberdrola already has signed leases from at least 15 landowners on 59 parcels in the northeast of the Town of Parishville and the north of the Town of Hopkinton, primarily between St. Rts. 11B and 72. Some of the parcels are inside the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line.
The public meeting on Saturday was held to explain the plan and to gauge the community’s reception to having windmills dotting the landscape producing electric power. The project is called North Ridge Wind Farm.
About 100 people attended, some to hear Jenny Burke and Daniel Murdie of Iberdrola talk about the plan, some to ask questions, and others to oppose the plan.
Burke and Murdie, members of the project development team who deal with the public and local governments, said it is very early in the development of any field of wind towers, if it will happen at all. They presented no formal plan, but wanted to give people a chance to hear what they propose and ask questions, they said. If the project goes ahead, several more formal presentations will be made to the public and local governments.
They said the company would have to wait for a year’s worth of data from two meteorological measuring towers they erected in November before deciding whether to proceed.
The company spokesepeople said they could connect to National Grid along a 115-kilovolt line along State Rt. 72. They said they could not allocate any of the power generated to local uses at a discount.
They also said that they are using 100 percent U.S.-made components in another development in the North Country.
They said if they built the towers and subsequently decided the project wasn’t worth it, they would remove the towers and restore the sites. They said they pay landowners by installed megawatt, typically amounting to $8,000 to $10,000 per year per two-megawatt turbine atop a 100 meter tower.
Each turbine, at full capacity, generates enough power to serve 600 houses.
They also say they would not pay taxes on a development, but would negotiate PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, with local taxing authorities for 20-year terms.
The Iberdrola representatives brought Iberdrola pens and key chains, and lawn signs and stickers saying “Yes Wind Power” for attendees to take, while opponents brought lawn signs saying “No Wind Turbines.”
A map of the parcels under contract has been prepared by the St. Lawrence County Planning office. It is based on lease information on file at the County Clerk’s Office. The map can be seen at http://www.parhopwind.com/leasemapmarch162011.html.
An owner of land in the area of the proposed development received a letter inviting him to the meeting, while another landowner nearby does not recall receiving such a letter.
Burke and Murdie said they had distributed flyers to let people know of the meeting.
One attendee complained that he had hear of the meeting only 24 hours beforehand, and suggested that notice of the meeting could have been better disseminated through local radio stations and newspapers. The event first came to light publicly Thursday, March 24, when a story was posted on NorthCountryNow.com.
The Parishville meeting was the first of at least two in the area, according to Iberdrola communications manager Paul Copleman.
“These meetings are a fairly typical part of the development process in the early stage,” Copleman said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to hear what people’s questions might be, and for us to put a face on the development.”
He said the company also plans to have such a meeting in Hopkinton, though the date is not set.
Even in the early stages of the plan, it is clear Iberdrola sees possibilities in the site. It has solicited several signed leases and has put up wind test towers to gauge the potential of the site.
“Land leasing and putting land under contract is required for putting up energy test towers,” Copleman said.
He said that he did not think the 59 parcels under contract would all be used for placement of test towers.
Before the test towers were put in place, Copleman said, the company had “done its homework to see if further study was warranted.”
He said it was too early to discuss how many windmills might be built and how much electricity could be generated until they have more data.
“Those test towers went up in November, and we won’t have a comprehensive assessment until we have 12 months of data under our belt,” so they can gauge wind potential through four seasons. And the entire development would be “a multi-year process,” he said.
Another meeting will be held in Hopkinton, and as more data and information become available, it will be shared with the community, he said.
The Maple Ridge wind power project in Lewis County, on the eastern edge of the Tug Hill plateau, is a joint venture of Iberdrola Renewables, which based in Portland, Ore., and Houston-based Horizon Wind Energy. Iberdrola’s web site says 400 people were employed during construction, and 35 people are employed now for operation of the field. The project was dedicated in September 2006.
Burke and Murdie told those at the meeting that Iberdrola’s wind projects in the U.S. have the capacity to generate 4,000 megawatts and employ 800 people nationwide.
Iberdrola had been working to get approvals for a development in the town of Hammond, but recently pulled the project from a state list of potential energy developments. The company said that it still is interested in the Stone Church Wind Farm project, but uncertainty over the project’s progress through local government approvals led the company to put it on hold.
Iberdrola SA, the parent company, is based in Spain. It is the leading producer of renewable energy in the world, according to Bloomberg News.
Bloomberg reported last week that the company has just broken ground on a wind generation complex in Romania that is envisioned as the largest such project in the world.
Bloomberg also reports that the company suspended electric production at a development in North Dakota after blades on one generator fell off March 14.
The company also has a pending application with the Ontario Energy Board to be an electricity wholesaler in the province.