As local towns such as Litchfield, New Hartford and Paris consider ordinances to regulate wind projects, the 37 turbines now operating in Fairfield and Norway raise many questions.
Here are five things you might want to know about the Hardscrabble Wind Farm in Herkimer County:
1. How do the turbines produce electricity?
Wind turbines are used to convert the kinetic energy of wind into mechanical power, which is then converted into electricity by a generator. The turbines essentially work the opposite as fans – the wind turns the blades, the moving blades spin a shaft and the shaft connects to a generator and makes electricity, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The ideal conditions for energy production are strong and steady winds at the height of the turbine hub, said Paul Copleman, spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables, the developer for the Hardscrabble Wind Farm.
2. Where does the electricity go?
The power flows from the wind turbines into the state power grid – connecting to the grid in Little Falls, Copleman said.
Electrons tend to take the path of least resistance and flow downhill, so it’s likely that the homes and businesses in closest proximity to the power source are drawing most of the power generated at that source, he said. Once the power enters the grid, however, electrons can flow hundreds or thousands of miles, so the power also could end up being used much farther away, he said.
3. What concerns do residents have?
Some residents living near the turbines in Fairfield and Norway have expressed various concerns with the project – such as noise from the turbines and light reflecting off the blades into their houses. Some residents also worry how the turbines will affect their property values and their ability to sell their homes.
As concerns have been raised, Iberdrola has been meeting with landowners, engaging in additional studies and assessing mitigation measures, Copleman said. Residents with any problems can call 1-855-369-9337 and leave a message for a voicemail that is checked every day, he said.
4. What are the financial impacts?
Over the 25 years that the land leases and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements for the project are in place, Iberdrola is projected to pay more than $16 million in PILOT payments, more than $16 million in lease payments to landowners and about $1.8 million in local sales tax payments, according to information provided by Copleman.
It was estimated that the construction period had impacts totaling about $14 million, he said. Iberdrola also will employ six full-time technicians on location for the length of the project’s operation, Copleman has said.
5. What’s new with the mechanic’s lien?
Due to a dispute about work the Saunder’s Concrete Co. conducted for the project and wasn’t paid for, the company filed a mechanic’s lien on April 4 in Herkimer County.
The lien was placed not only on the project’s general contractor, the M.A. Mortenson Co., but also on all landowners with turbines on their property.
M. A. Mortenson has now filed a lien discharge bond in the Herkimer County Clerk’s Office to discharge the lien from landowners, and the company will be communicating with landowners on the issue, Copleman said.
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