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Arkwright residents anxious for wind power

ARKWRIGHT – A decade-long desire to have wind-powered energy is ongoing in this town.

Residents packed the town hall at Monday night’s town board meeting hoping to hear some updates on the process. Although many expressed approval of the concept of wind power, one resident did not.

During the June meeting, Larry Ball told Supervisor Fred Norton he was not in favor of wind power because he felt his solar power was a better investment.

Ball said at Monday’s meeting he found an article backing up this theory.

“Buffalo is planning on building 13,000 solar panels on the old Bethlehem Steel site,” he said. “We should send a copy of this article to Sen. Catharine Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell. Our wind farm has been in the works for 10 years, so why hasn’t anything happened? When solar in Buffalo will be underway by the end of the year.”

Residents Jim Held and Ron Curtin are in favor of wind power.

“Let’s enhance ourselves,” Curtin said. “We started hearing about these wind farms several years ago. Since then I can’t tell you how many wind farms have come to this area. Part of my wife’s family lives in Villenova and they were getting checks, but all of a sudden it stopped. We should be very very cautious.”

Councilman Roger Cardot has been on the board since the start of the project.

“The wind company needs a 20-year guarantee sale, so far they only have 10 years,” he said. “That is what the holdup has been. There has been some talk about changes, which all involve the state making it happen. We need a 20-year contract, for a more solid bid, and the company would get more financing to do the project. If this could happen, we would likely see this project come to a finish.”

There was no information at this time about the meeting with Sen. Young and Assemblyman Goodell. Norton was not able to come to this month’s meeting due to a family emergency out of state.

Building inspector Joseph Sorrento added he signed the wind mill lease over four years ago.

“Every six months we need to sign the New York State Code of Conduct, which basically relieves ourselves from any decision making when it comes to the windmills, because we do already have a lease with them,” he said.

Councilman Christopher Cannon confirmed they had signed the lease several years ago.

“Since then we have become employees of the town,” he said. “Several other people have signed leases previously.”

Cardot explained the wind company has to report to the State Attorney General every six months.

“If and when this happens it is still up in the air,” he said. “We are at state level, state regulations, and their influence on NYSERDA. Now we are asking state officials to help push it along.”

“If you know it is going to take you 20 years to pay for a business you need to purchase a power contract that states that,” Cardot continued. “If you go to the bank with a 10-year plan, but it takes you 20 years to pay for it, there is a big gap there and that is the problem. If NYSERDA changes it to a 20-year contract then the odds go up for this project being done.”

Cardot mentioned this is not a town funding problem.

“We are a bare-bones town,” he said. “We got over 2,000 acres of state land we don’t get taxes from. Those tax dollars we don’t get to collect has to come from our residents and that gets hard. We need the state to get involved and help us out.”

In the early stages of the windmill project there was an 80 percent approval rate with the residents.

“We have a lot of support,” Cardot added. There is a lot of expectation from this board to make sure we are protecting the residents. That is why we don’t mind this is going slow, because we want to make sure it is done right.”