By now many are aware that the Town of Madison is poised to grant a special permit for the construction of a 36 turbine wind farm on either side of Quarterline Road, marching southward from Route 20. Each turbine will be approximately 500 feet high, nearly as tall as the Washington Monument. The existing wind turbines that some of us admire are only 328 feet tall. Before you applaud this project as green and good, please read this. I am not writing to debate the merits of wind power as a clean source of energy. Many politicians and wind companies are already having this debate.
I do, however, feel compelled to share the following facts with you. There are some sixty or more residences located on Bonney Hill to the west of Quarterline Road alone, where seven of these industrial monsters may be built. I haven’t counted homes on the other side yet. A mere 29 more turbines are planned there. The population density of this area is suburban in nature. This project will affect a large community of families whose expenditures help to support local businesses, whose children attend local public schools and whose taxes provide a solid, predictable and growing source of revenue for the town. It makes little sense to destroy this base over the long term for the short -term promise of PILOT payments.
The developer is a shell company owned by a huge North American company, who in turn is owned by a foreign company headquartered in Spain. Believe me, they have no interest in this community other than money and the federal tax credits paid for with our tax dollars that make the project economically viable without the need to meet even the most modest production standards. I know of no other industrial wind project in the United States of this magnitude that has been constructed within such a densely populated community.
Some of us have driven 50 miles north to the town of Fairfield in Herkimer County to actually see Hardscrabble Wind Farm, a project of similar magnitude and scope, spread out over a larger project area and located in a more rural setting. We have spoken to affected residents. We have spoken to their town supervisor. No picture, no description begins to rival the impact of seeing the enormity of Hardscrabble Wind Farm with one’s own eyes. On quiet days, the turbines sound like jet planes. On windy days, it is far worse. Our own town officials are prepared to cast a vote in favor of this project without having seen Hardscrabble Wind Farm or spoken to town officials in Fairfield. They have been invited to accompany a group of us on a bus trip to Hardscrabble Wind Farm on April 15. I pray that they recognize how irresponsible it would be to make a decision that will change the face and nature of a community, even a region, and affect hundreds of constituents and hundreds more who are merely unlucky without having seen for themselves what can and will happen.
I beg you, my neighbors and friends, as well as those I have yet to meet, to take a hard look at the proposed project, and its potential effects and to use your voices to at least ask our town officials to slow down, do their homework and act with informed deliberation. Why must this process move so quickly and who is responsible for setting the pace? Could it be that the developer fears that its tax subsidies may dry up?
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