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Richfield board, energy firm reach agreement on wind farm

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – A six-turbine wind farm proposed for the town of Richfield got a boost when the town board entered into a host agreement with the developers – although opponents are vowing to stop the project in court.

“We were very pleased that Richfield’s elected representatives have spoken and passed a very strong community-host agreement,” said Owen Grant, the project manager for Ridgeline Energy of Albany, the firm that hopes to switch on the 18.4-megawatt wind farm later this year.

Newly elected Richfield Town Supervisor Francis Enjem said the host agreement was approved 3-2 this week after a spirited debate.

“I wanted to find out more about the project before they went through with it,” said Enjem, who voted against approving the agreement.

Backing the project – dubbed “Monticello Hills” by Ridgeline – were town board members Mary Margaret Snyder, Bonnie Domion and Laurie Bond. Robert Seamon joined Enjem in opposition.

Under the agreement, Grant said his company will pay for an independent engineer to advise the town on the projected costs of decommissioning the wind farm.

It also assures the company will pick up the tab for ongoing environmental monitoring. The towering turbine will be located on both sides of U.S. Route 20.

“It really provides robust protections for the town,” he said.

The only obstacle to the project at this point is a lawsuit filed by 34 residents who claim the town planning board improperly issued a special use permit to Ridgeline.

That case has been assigned to state Court of Claims Judge Donald Cerio of Madison County. A hearing is expected to be held March 16, said Larry Frigault, one of the citizens battling against the wind farm.

“We were shocked that the town board approved the host agreement, knowing the permit was in jeopardy,” Frigault said.