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Area wind project scouting investors at Canandaigua gathering Oct. 10

The first commercial-scale wind farm in the East to be owned by local investors is out scouting for those investors. Recruiters with Black Oak Wind Farm, a $40 million wind turbine farm to be built about 10 miles west of Ithaca, will be at the New York Wine & Culinary Center Thursday, Oct. 10 to give a presentation and information.

The seven-turbine farm will be built in 2015 in Enfield, Tompkins County. Expected to generate some 11.9 megawatts of electricity annually – or enough to service 3,000 to 5,000 average-sized households – the electricity will flow into the grid. Those benefiting will be the nearest users of electricity statewide, with users mainly in the Ithaca and Montour Falls areas.

The event Oct. 10 in Canandaigua is part of one phase of recruiting investors, with a goal of raising $6 million toward the $40 million goal. Project Manager Marguerite Wells said the event is open to the public, though the investors sought for this round must either have $1 million in assets, excluding their home, or make $200,000 or more a year. A future recruiting phase to raise $16 million will aim at attracting those with lower assets and income levels, she said.

Anyone with an interest in wind power can attend the Oct. 10 event to learn more about the project, she said.

The project, expected to be up and running by late next year, so far has 122 investors. Wells said that while there are federal and state incentives for wind farms, and Black Oak is “certainly taking advantage” of them, “public dollars do not build energy projects, directly. Every wind, coal, gas or nuclear plant is privately owned and operated, and private dollars have to be invested to build them.”

Naples resident Arden Neubauer is an advocate of renewable energy. She participated in the Sept. 21 Climate Change march in New York City, though she has mixed feelings about wind turbines. Wind turbines cover the hillside south of Naples in Cohocton, which has the largest wind farm in the state’s Southern Tier region, with 50 2.5-megawatt wind turbines. She supports energy from wind when turbines are placed where they work most efficiently and not disrupt nearby residents, she said.

The Black Oak project, which has been eight years in the making, will be built on and around Buck Hill, just north of Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area in the town of Enfield. Wells said the project passed “a vigorous environmental review, and happily nothing of note has come up in terms of being on a flyway, or having habitat for any rare species,” Wells stated in a Sierra Club publication on the project last winter.

From an investors’ point of view, Wells said, on the Black Oak website (www.blackoakwindny.com) people can read the company’s prospectus.

“Broadly speaking, returns are within reasonable market expectations. This is not charity, neither is it a get rich quick scheme,” she said.