PARISHVILLE – Undeterred by the state’s decision to seize control of large energy projects, local officials are moving forward in an effort to create laws that would govern the presence of wind farms in their communities.
The towns of Parishville and Hopkinton will hold a joint meeting in August with representatives from Iberdrola Renewables, Inc., to discuss the power company’s interest in creating a wind farm in the area.
Parishville’s town board will also hold a joint meeting with the town’s planning board July 13 to further discuss the details of their proposed law.
Officials admit they are uncertain as to what the future may hold for wind turbines in the area after state lawmakers decided last week they will have the final say in all large-scale energy operations. But local officals say the town representatives will continue to explore the possibilities and create what they believe are the best policies for their communities.
“The state kind of threw in monkey wrench in everything with their decision,” Hopkinton Town Supervisor Marvin E. Rust said. “We originally planned to discuss questions on the effects of wind turbines with Iberdola’s legal team and engineers. I’m not sure what will happen now.”
Last week, legislators in Albany passed a law that will allow the state to have the final say in any proposed wind farm projects that produce 25 or more megawatts of power.
Mr. Rust said the average wind turbine produces 2 megawatts of power, meaning any project that would include more than 12 wind turbines in a particular town would fall under state jurisdiction.
Concerns have been raised that towns may lose all say in the matter of wind power and be forced to deal with whatever lawmakers in Albany decide.
“It’s just another move by the state to take power away from the towns,” Parishville Town Supervisor Jerry G. Moore said during Tuesday night’s board meeting. “It’s very disturbing to me they think they can run our towns and our wind farms better than we can.”
Iberdrola has expressed interest in creating a 50 megawatt wind farm in Hopkinton, Mr. Rust said, which according to the new law would be under the state’s control.
He said the towns do not have the power to negotiate with energy companies in an effort to decrease the size of the farms and keep them under town law.
“It’s like trying to negotiate gas prices at your local gas station,” Mr. Rust said. “They would tell you to take your car and go somewhere else.”
It has put the towns in a curious predicament – either concede control of the wind farms to state law or risk the possibility of losing the project all together.
But officials are concerned the new state requirements, which haven’t yet been released, could dramatically differ from those the towns have already created.
For example, Hopkinton’s law, which was completed last week, requires a wind turbine to be built at least 1,800 feet away from the property of an individual who is not receiving compensation from the energy company. But laws in other towns only require a distance of 1,000 feet.
Mr. Rust said he is unsure of the state’s exact requirements but the people of Hopkinton could ultimately suffer as a result of the town’s loss of control in this and other issues.
“In my opinion, they are taking away rights of the local governments and our desire to decide what is best for our own communities,” Mr. Rust said. “I would like to think that I, as town supervisor, would have more concern about the local citizens then the people from Albany do.”
Parishville is still in the process of completing their law and while no companies have directly contacted them about the possibility of building in their area Mr. Moore said there is a sense of urgency to finish the proposal in the event a company does want to build there.
“We have got to get working on this thing,” Mr. Moore said. “We have to be ready for when we do have the possibility of a wind farm.”
The Parishville meeting will be held at 7 p.m. July 13 at the town hall. Their joint meeting with Hopkinton will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Hopkinton Town Hall.