LITCHFIELD – Town officials will be considering a new draft wind law that would ban large-scale wind projects.
If approved, the law would limit wind-power production in the town to smaller turbines that produce 10 kilowatts or less and are used primarily to reduce electricity costs at a home or farm, according to the draft law that was sent to town leaders Tuesday and obtained by the Observer-Dispatch.
The law essentially would block Albany-based NorthWind and Power’s current plan to build a 20-megawatt wind farm with eight to 12 turbines on Dry Hill in Litchfield.
Town Deputy Supervisor Kate Entwistle said the Town Board will begin to discuss the legislation at its next meeting, and a public hearing and vote would have to later take place.
“It is just a preliminary draft,” Entwistle said. “It is by no means a law.”
The draft law is expected to be reviewed during the Litchfield Town Board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 804 Cedarville Road in Ilion.
Litchfield has a moratorium on wind projects in place through March 2012 or until the town finalizes wind ordinances.
Entwistle said she is waiting to make up her mind about the law, but Town Board member James Entwistle said he feels strongly that approving the draft law would be the right decision.
“I want to get a law passed that’s going to keep them out of the town,” James Entwistle said. “That’s what I believe that most of the townspeople want, and until that’s proven differently, that’s what I’m going to push for.”
Daniel Spitzer, a Buffalo-based attorney is who is acting as special counsel for Litchfield, said he drafted the wind law as requested by the Town Board. The main focus of the law would be that the town doesn’t believe large-scale projects are appropriate for the community, he said.
Among the concerns laid out in the law are the turbines’ potential impacts on property values, traffic, damage to roads, noise, historic homes and structures in Litchfield, and the “unique view-sheds” in the town.
Patrick Doyle, the president and founder of NorthWind and Power, said he needs to review the draft ordinances, but he will continue to participate in the town’s process.
Doyle argues that the project would create jobs, help the local tax base and provide a better energy-production option than other methods such as natural gas drilling – with limited negative effects on town residents.
“Other than that the turbines would be visible, we believe the impacts would be pretty modest,” Doyle said.
Patricia Christensen, spokeswoman for the Litchfield United group, said she would be in favor of the law, and she believes the Town Board has been working hard at taking the proper steps.
Residents opposed to wind projects have concerns such as noise from the turbines and the effect on their property values, Christensen said.
“There’s reason for the opposition,” she said.
Jared Sessum, a founding member of the Litchfield Residents for Wind Energy group, said wind projects would create jobs, help with taxes and generate revenue for other businesses in the area such as hotels and restaurants during the construction process.
Sessum, who doesn’t have a specific project proposed for his property but would like to have one, said it’s not right that town officials would be able to tell him how he can use his land.
“We have a perfect opportunity for a wind project in our town,” Sessum said. “A project on my property would set up my family for life.”