CHERRY CREEK – Representatives from Environmental Design & Research and EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc. were on hand Tuesday at the Pine Valley Veterans Association VFW to field the community’s questions regarding the Cassadaga Wind Project.
According to EverPower, “The Cassadaga Wind Project is a 126 MW (megawatt) wind farm located in the towns of Charlotte and Cherry Creek. The project will be located on primarily farmland and recreational land and could include up to 70 turbines when completed. The project’s point of interconnection is expected to be in the existing Niagara Mohawk Power Moon Road substation in the town of Stockton.”
Current plans call for a turbine hub height of 100 meters. By comparison, the turbines located at New York state thruway exits are approximately 30 meters.
When determining a hub height, there is an engineering balance between maximum height and logistics. The higher up, the better the wind speed. But above a certain height it becomes hard to transport the turbines to the wind farm location.
An industry standard hub height of 70-80 meters was previously used, but recently engineers have found it is cost effective to increase to 100 meters.
While wind speed continues to increase as the hub height is increased, FAA regulations begin to come into play once a height of 500 feet is approached.
The most pressing question on the minds of community members Tuesday was how they will benefit from the Cassadaga Wind Farm.
“A lot of the benefits (for community members not leasing their land) depends on what the town does with it,” said Ben Brazell, EDR director of environmental services. “I know a number of communities in New York who have hosted projects, and for example, they have brand new snow plows and they have reduced taxes to the citizens. And some towns have actually eliminated town taxes, so it really can provide those types of financial benefits to towns. But that is up to the towns themselves to decide what they do with the money.
“For landowners hosting on their property there are lease payments in addition to the town’s benefits,” he added. “That is a direct function of how many turbines you have and if you are hosting other aspects of the project. For instance, you could have a buried section of the interconnect on your property. Just because you aren’t hosting a turbine doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the benefits.”
Once the wind farm is up and running, the energy produced by the turbines will go into the grid and be distributed across the state. Currently, there is no way to guarantee the electricity produced will stay local, which concerned some citizens who feel the wind farm will be producing power for New York City
The Cassadaga Wind Farm is currently in the pre-application phase, which includes preparation of a Public Involvement Plan, implementation of the PIP and preparation of a Preliminary Scoping Statement
“I would say we are at least a good two years away as far as timeline goes,” said Bill Spencer, EverPower development manager. “What’s driving a lot of the timeline is when we can get through the permit process. It could take longer if (the state) doesn’t like what we submit. There is an appeal process, so it’s hard to predict, especially when dealing with New York state.”
“Once you get interveners involved in the process, that could stretch it out longer,” he added. “It all depends on people who have questions about the project, people who may not want the project or have issues with it, and we have to address all of those concerns before the state will approve the project.”
Construction for the wind farm includes erecting the turbines themselves, building roads to the turbines, turbine foundations, a collection system, a collection station and a 5- to 6-mile transmission line.
The first leases were signed four to five years ago, with work being done in earnest for approximately a year and a half.
Additional information regarding the Cassadaga Wind Project can be found at www.everpower.com/cassadaga-wind-project-ny/.
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