ARKWRIGHT – The town of Arkwright has been whispering about a wind farm for nearly 10 years, and it looks like the wind farm may be coming soon.
After Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the $206 million investment toward several wind farm operations, one being in Arkwright and the other in the North County, and two large projects near Mohawk Valley and the Hudson River things started looking up.
These four projects will help the state create a more diverse renewable energy portfolio to address energy and environmental challenges.
Supervisor Frederic Norton said after the initial plans were submitted the company, EDP Renewables, made some changes.
EDP Renewables Project Manager Jeffrey Nemeth, of Indianapolis, took over for Derek Rieman who was working on this wind farm project with the town for some time.
Nemeth told the OBSERVER in a phone interview a little about the future of this project.
“We will have turbines south of State Route 83, go as far north as Straight Road, and Center Road will split the project in half with turbines on the east and west side of the road,” he said. “We are finalizing the turbines we will be using at this time. We are looking at anywhere from 30 to 40 turbines. We had been looking at as many as 50, but we had to reduce the amount of wind turbines in the wind farm area.”
The energy company is still working out the State Environmental Quality Review, also known as the SEQR process, which should be done by next year. This helps companies comply with the best way to minimize environmental impacts in the area.
“We need to reduce any type of potential impacts of turbines in the area,” Nemeth said.
“We are working with the landowners and the community. We are looking into construction of the wind farm in 2016, and the turbines would be erected in 2017. From an economic development view, we enter into a host communication agreement. We pay annual payments to the town, that is part of the agreement.”
Part of the agreement states the company would have to pay annual payments to the town residents.
“There would be an economic impact with landowners making and spending money in the community,” Nemeth said. “This is a large economic impact for the community. We have a few landowners within the project area.”
Nemeth has already built three wind farms in the Indianapolis area, and this will be his fourth.
“I have been at the company over five years,” he said. “I worked on developing other projects in the state of New York. Our company has the Maple Ridge Project and Madison Project. We are the largest wind farm developer that is operating wind farms in the state of New York. I am very excited about this (Arkwright) project. I have met some of the landowners in the community and recently attended a town board meeting. There is a lot of energy there, and a lot of individuals want to see this done. I am looking forward to working with the community and getting this constructed.”
The town officials will be able to use the income from the wind farm to benefit taxpayers, according to Nemeth.
“They will be able to pay for some services,” he said. “They shouldn’t have to raise taxes.”
The landowners who have agreed to allow the lease of their land to construct the wind farm have already signed an agreement with EDP Renewables.
“We told them the amount of money we would be paying them,” he said. “We will be working with the town for the next few years. Our objective is to have the wind farm fully operational by December 2017. The communication with the town has been very good and we will be meeting with them the next couple of months to hammer out the schedule and make sure it meets with what they want.”
This project could cause a ripple within surrounding communities.
“It is always a possibility,” Nemeth said. “We are seeing a lot of demand for new-generation growth across the United States. You see coal plants being decommissioned. Wind energy cannot replace it all, but it can make up a lot of the percentage.”
EDP Renewables, according to Nemeth, is like a 401K for the energy demand.
“You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Having a mix of coal, natural gas, and wind energy will provide the state with a level of comfort,” he said. “If the price of coal or natural gas shoots up, these other commodities will help keep the cost down. This way no one is depending on just one type of energy power generation.”
“We have been working on this project for many years,” Nemeth continued. “We have a lot of confidence in being able to move forward with it.”
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