A group of Catlin residents have proposed a set of strict regulations for commercial wind turbines in the town.
The Citizen Wind Committee opposes having a wind farm in the area, and has concerns about the effect the turbines – which can measure 400 feet tall or more – could have on residents’ health and quality of life, as well as property values.
The group brought a 30-page draft to the town’s planning board Tuesday night, and received input from chairman Jim Plate and other board members.
The draft local law, which is posted on the Town of Catlin’s website, townofcatlin.com, limits the size of the turbines and their sound emissions and establishes setbacks.
It calls for wind companies to post bonds to cover any decrease in residents’ property values from having turbines near their land. It would also make the companies liable for medical bills caused by health impacts such as noise exposure and shadow flicker, a strobe-like effect created by spinning turbine blades said to cause seizures and other issues.
The draft law also would protect sensitive wildlife areas, citing the turbines’ impact on bird and bat populations.
It’s a response to plans announced in 2012 by Florida-based NextEra Energy to build a $200 million wind farm with 50 to 75 turbines in the area.
The project was centered around a deal between NextEra Energy and Watkins Glen International to have turbines on the track’s 1,500-acre property in the Town of Dix, but about 30 people in the neighboring town of Catlin signed leases for turbines on their properties.
However, the majority of Catlin residents seem opposed to the project, Catlin Town Supervisor LaVerne Phelps has said.
The Citizen Wind Committee, which has led the opposition, wanted an outright ban on large wind turbines, but feared a ban could be overridden under the state’s Article X law governing large-scale wind farms, which would leave Catlin with no local regulations in place.
The group’s draft – which used another town’s law as a model – may be added to or revised by the planning board, and will be reviewed by Town Attorney John Mustico before it is sent to the Catlin Town Board for discussion, possibly at the April 9 meeting. A public hearing will be scheduled before the town board votes on adopting any wind law, Phelps said.
Ryan Pumford, project manager for NextEra Energy, has told The Leader the project could bring revenues for the town, as well as signing bonuses and annual payments for landowners, and will feed clean electricity into the grid. However, it would likely be several years before any turbines are built in the area, and the project may hinge on the status of federal subsidies for wind energy, Pumford said.
NextEra, a Fortune 500 energy company with $15 billion in annual revenues, has 100 wind farms in the U.S. and Canada.
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