The potential wind project in the town of Somerset is still in its early stages, according to Apex clean energy representative Dan Fitzgerald.
The project is currently in early development as interconnection studies are underway with New York Independent System Operator. Early studies are being done, which was agreed upon with US Fish and Wildlife as well as with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Apex has continued to work with participating landowners and sign up interested participants. An engineer started assessing transportation routes and to take a look at early information on site for the early stages of planning a layout for the winter months.
Soon, Apex expects to start discussions with the town in regard to a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement that would bring an estimated $1.6 million of revenue for all taxing jurisdictions.
Fitzgerald states that Apex is in the first of five steps in the Article X process, a process that the company must adhere to. That’s the pre-application stage where the company must carry out a public involvement plan. A preliminary statement plan will be sent out to residents in late July, early August to be reviewed. After reviewing the scoping system will be revised.
Although no final decision has been made by the board or New York state, many residents of Somerset have spoken against the wind project. Some have said it is causing too much distress in families and the community in its early assessing stages.
Jeff Gardener of Somerset, who says he is 100 percent for clean energy, felt the town residents would be more receptive to a solar farm rather than a wind turbine “factory.”
“If the project has to be done I don’t understand why they can’t work on the Somerset plant and convert that into natural gas like they did with the one in Dunkirk,” he said, giving the board additional suggestions to create natural energy.
The wind project will cause residents’ property values to reduce to half of what they are now, according to some concerned property owners.
Dale Howard, a resident of Somerset, also weighed in saying that the town should “zero in and fight for the law we have on the books.”
According to Chapter 205, zoning article 13, supplemental regulations, a 10-page law on commercial wind conversion is listed stating the placement construction of all commercial wind energy conversion systems within the town boundary should be allowed only by special use permit and a site approval issued by the planning board.
Additionally, the law states that the maximum overall feet of the wind turbine is 450 feet and the payment in lieu of taxes must be negotiated with the town of Somerset.
Engert reassured residents they were indeed hearing all of their concerns and that the board does not appreciate Article X, which he said gives locals no say in what happens in their own backyards.
“Most of us have been here just as long as most you have,” Trustee Randall Wayner said to the public. “We care just as much as you do what happens in our town and we are paying attention to your concerns with this project.”
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