An improved power transmission system would encourage more power generation in Upstate New York.
That’s what power line developers proposing projects in the Mohawk Valley have touted as a benefit and potential job creator.
While those companies sing the praises of power projects, communities throughout Herkimer County are either dealing with the repercussions of power generators or fighting to keep them out.
The state’s Public Service Commission said improvement of the grid would bolster power generation. The commission has been examining several developers’ proposals as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Initiative. Four of those run from the Marcy substation to New York City and attempt to address the congestion in the area.
“This congestion prevents lower-cost, cleaner electricity that is generated upstate from flowing across the state,” said commission spokesman James Denn said in an email. “As a result, customers must pay more for dirtier or less-efficient power. Improving the transmission system will create jobs while benefiting our health, economy and environment.”
According to the New York Independent System Operator, of the 45 power projects planned, 21 of them are wind projects, including one in Herkimer County – Dry Lots Wind in Litchfield.
In 2012, however, the town of Litchfield passed a law banning industrial wind turbines, which came on the heels of 12 20-megawatt turbines on Dry Hill proposed by Albany-based NorthWind and Power LLC.
“We didn’t think industrial wind turbines were beneficial for our town,” Supervisor Jim Entwistle said. “The negative impacts that they were going to have going back to the wind turbines really outweighed any benefits that came from it.”
But that’s not deterring wind companies.
Iberdrola Renewables – the owner of the Hardscrabble Wind Farm in Fairfield and Norway – has several projects in various stages of development, spokesman Paul Copleman said. He did not go into specifics.
“From Iberdrola Renewables’ perspective, additional bulk transmission could make our upstate, early stage development wind projects more likely to come to market by making their power even more competitive,” Copleman said in an email.
The company, however, is in the throes of a lawsuit with dozens of Herkimer County residents over concerns about the Hardscrabble Wind Farm.
Copleman said they recognize the concerns and are willing to work with the community.
“Any project we pursue would entail a thorough, transparent and inclusive approach to the permitting process,” he said.
While there is opposition to wind, other renewable power sources might be better options.
Buffalo-based Solar Liberty Vice President Nathan Rizzo said while there are few incentives for solar panel farms, their future is bright.
“As the cost of solar has decreased and utilities start to recognize the advantage of a solar farm, we’re definitely going to start seeing more pop up,” he said.
Litchfield resident Pat Christensen, who is against wind turbines, said she wouldn’t have an issue with something such as solar.
“At least solar wouldn’t infringe on my rights and my land use,” she said. “It wouldn’t be unsightly or noisy.”
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