RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Neighbors gathered Thursday night to voice concerns regarding a planned wind farm that would be built on an 1,190-acre tract of land divided by state Route 20 in the northwestern section of the town of Richfield Springs.
The would-be developer, Monticello Hills Wind, LLC said in documents describing the project that six towering turbines would be placed on the site, each of them capable of generating 3.075 megawatts – for a total generating capacity of 18.45 megawatts. The company has applied to the Richfield Springs Planning Board for a special use permit to allow the six turbines to be installed here.
But some residents fear that more turbines will be placed on the site after the initial six are erected.
“Once that cow eats the first apple, she can’t wait to find the last one,” said Rex Seamon, a 51-year-old dairy farmer who lives about two miles from the project site. He also voiced skepticism toward claims that the turbine would produce cheap power.
“If these things were so efficient, we wouldn’t have to subsidize the wind industry as much as we do,” he said.
According to the Monticello Hills documents, accompanying the turbines would be gravel-surfaced access roads, buried electrical collection lines, a meteorological tower and a substation and switchyard to allow connection to the electrical grid.
The project promoters said the wind farm will create jobs and pump $400,000 a year into the local economy.
“This is a project that will help the state reach its renewable energy goals and suppress energy rates,” said Owen Grant, the project manager for Monticello Hills Wind, an offshoot of Ridgeline Energy of Albany.
The electricity generated by the turbines would be enough to power 7,000 homes, he said.
However, Jonathan Knauth, an engineer who has been leading the fight against turbines in the Herkimer County town of Litchfield, told the 50 local residents at a meeting hastily organized by wind farm critics that wind energy is “more expensive than any other type of power. Even nuclear power is cheaper.”
Grant said Monticello Hills would create 70 to 100 jobs during the construction phase.
While some residents here said the 492-foot turbines would mar their sweeping views of woods and farms, Grant told The Daily Star: “Most people like the way they look.”
If the company wins the needed approval, the turbines could be switched on as early as late 2012, he said.
The site is about four miles east of West Winfield and five miles northwest of the Village of Richfield Springs. It would be bounded by Old Skaneateles Turnpike to the south, Bargly Road to the east, Richfield Hill Road to the north and state Route 51 to the west. Route 20 runs through the center of the site.
Ridgeline Energy filed its application for a special-use permit in March. The Richfield Spring Planning Board is still evaluating the project.