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Enfield wind farm expected to be running by end of 2013

Ithaca – If all goes according to plan, there will be wind turbines up and running on Buck Hill in Enfield come Christmas 2013.

Though several steps still remain, project manager Marguerite Wells said she expects the 8-year-old project to be completed by that date. In the meantime, the environmental impact statement has to be completed, the public will have a chance to comment on the project, construction details will be worked out, and funding secured, she said.

Earlier this month, the original developers of the wind farm sold their assets and development rights to Black Oak Wind Farm LLC, a group of six area residents. Peter Bardaglio, former Ithaca College provost and vice president of academic affairs, will serve as president. The six-member board includes internet service provider Clarity Connect CEO Chuck Bartosch, Dean Koyanagi and Lexie Hain of Ithaca, Michelle Jones of Elmira and Leslie Hoffman of Shelter Island.

Last week, Juhl Wind Inc. signed a development services agreement with Black Oak. In addition, Black Oak partnered with Val-Add Service Corp., a South Dakota project management company that will head the investment efforts.

“With two new partners on board, things are moving along at a whole new pace,” Wells said. “For eight years it has been a slow and painful process because we have never built a wind farm before. But now we have real firepower on board and things are getting done.”

The farm would be on both sides of Black Oak Road just north of Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, Wells said. There would be anywhere from eight to 15 wind turbines, the maximum height of which is 420 feet. Each turbine, in the 20-megawatt range, would be the same size, said Corey Juhl, vice president of project development for Juhl Wind.

The total cost will range from $40 to $45 million, Val-Add President Brian Minish said. What portion will have to be raised by statewide investors in unknown now, he said.

The draft environmental impact statement is nearing completion, Wells said. The noise and visual aspect of the statement will be completed in February, she said. After the EIS is submitted to the town, the public will have a period to comment on it. That will take place from February to around April, she said.

Black Oak will then respond to all the feedback and submit the final statement to the town in April or May. The town then has 10 days to make a final decision, she said.

The last half of the year will be spent selling electricity and finalizing those contracts, Minish said.

Once the farm is up and running, there will be three to five fulltime positions for ongoing maintenance and site management, Juhl said. During construction, which could last anywhere from four to six months, there will be about 40 new jobs created, he said. The goal is to hire as many local people as possible, he said.