COOPERSTOWN – Another proposed wind-farm project has surfaced in Otsego County, this time in the hamlet of Schenevus.
The Maryland Town Board on Dec. 15 will consider a proposed law that would allow town officials to regulate the production of wind energy in the town.
The draft law was proposed by a work-study group appointed by the town board in anticipation that a wind-farm developer would want to erect turbines in the town, said John Arnold, a member of both the study group and the chairman of the Maryland Planning Board. While no application has been filed yet, Arnold said Ridgeline Energy of Albany has expressed interest in a site off Smokey Avenue.
Ridgeline Energy is the same firm that took a step forward last week in a similar project in the town of Richfield, in the northern end of Otsego County. There, the Richfield Planning Board granted Ridgeline a special-use permit to build six 492-foot turbines on both sides of U.S. Route 20.
Arnold said the work group wanted to make sure that if a wind energy farm comes to Maryland “it has to be for the benefit of all the property owners in the town.”
Ridgeline Vice President Patrick Doyle said his company has been using a meteorological mast since October 2009 to measure wind speeds in the area near Smokey Avenue and Gohan Road.
Ridgeline’s website states, “The site is situated atop an exposed feature adjacent to the local sub-transmission lines and accessible via the immediate interstate, making it an appealing site for a Community Scale wind project. Utilizing the existing sub-transmission infrastructure will allow generated electricity to be consumed locally by the communities surrounding the project.”
Doyle said the Schenevus project, if approved, would generate a similar amount of power as envisioned for the six-turbine wind farm planned for Richfield. That project, which faces potential legal action from Richfield residents opposed to the turbines, would produce 18.45 megawatts.
Arnold, noting he was speaking for himself, said he still has a number of questions about the viability of wind power.
“There is a lot of support for going forward with green power projects,” he said. “I’m not sure wind towers meet the criteria for green power projects. I’m not sure how successful these things area.” On the other hand, he said, the turbines could reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Ridgeline’s website said the Maryland project would provide local tax payments “expected to exceed $150,000 per annum.”
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