PARISHVILLE – Supporters and opponents of wind energy were both well-represented at Monday night’s community forum on a pending wind turbine project.
About two dozen local residents gathered in Parishville Town Hall to sound off on Iberdrola Renewables’ proposal to site 50 wind turbines across properties in Parishville and Hopkinton. Iberdrola is in the early stages of planning the project and has already signed leases with 15 landowners in both communities where it wants to site turbines, Business Developer Jenny L. Burke confirmed Monday night.
The Parishville Town Council and Town Planning Board are close to hammering out a first draft of a local wind law that would set parameters for such a project, according to Town Supervisor Jerry G. Moore. And as town officials work on a law, they are looking for as much public input as possible, Mr. Moore said. A well-attended meeting in March prompted the council to schedule additional meetings in May and June.
“We need input to be sure we’re doing the right thing,” Mr. Moore said. “What we’re doing here will affect the town for generations to come. We want to do it right.”
The crowd was nearly split between supporters and opponents. Some, like Rick Perkins, touted the economic benefits of the wind turbines.
Mr. Perkins said he knew of residents in Chauteaugay that were initially against the proposed project there. But once the turbines were constructed, those same residents changed their minds, he said.
“I haven’t seen any drawbacks yet,” Mr. Perkins said. “It put a lot of people to work. They hated it at first. Nobody wanted it. Now they love it.”
Before Iberdrola approached Parishville resident Jack Kelley with a lease, he said he was against the proposed 500-foot structures entering the town. But after Iberdrola approached him with a lease for his property, he changed his mind.
Iberdrola plans to pay property owners $8,000 per year for any two megawatt turbine constructed on their land, Ms. Burke said. The town would receive additional funding for any turbines constructed, she said, alleviating the tax burden.
Those benefits are hard to turn down, Mr. Kelley said. He was originally wary of noise generated from the turbines but was reassured after visiting one in Lowville.
“I went up to the tower, about six inches from the thing, and couldn’t hear anything,” Mr. Kelley said.
But town resident Lewis Fertig wondered about the long-term implications of the project, especially once the project’s 20-year lease ends, and what would happen should Iberdrola fold.
“It could be a detriment to the property if it’s not useful anymore,” Mr. Fertig said.
Ms. Burke said funds will be in place to deconstruct the turbines should Iberdrola ever cease operations. But re-negotiation details 20 years down the road still need to be worked out, she said.
“We haven’t hard a wind farm for … 20 years to know what a re-negotiation looks like,” Ms. Burke said.
Tammi Thompson’s property is in the Adirondack Park, but has a view of the town of Parishville.
“It’s pretty out there and I don’t want to see (the turbines),” she said.
Others wondered about the effect the turbines will have on property values, a question that stumped Mr. Moore. Still others harbored concerns about the impact on bats and birds.
But hearing new questions and issues was beneficial, he said.
“We’re all just getting started,” Mr. Moore said. “The questions you ask are good ones but we don’t have all the answers yet.”
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