PLATTSBURGH – A sixth wind farm is proposed for the Northern Tier.
The Bull Run Wind Energy Center would set up 50 to 100 wind turbines in the towns of Clinton, Ellenburg, Altona and Mooers.
The developer, Chicago-based Invenergy Wind North America LLC, started the review process last month and expects to hold public meetings with involved municipalities and other interested parties at least through the end of the year.
Eric Miller, Invenergy’s project developer for the Bull Run Wind Energy Center, said the state is now in charge of the environmental review process for large-scale wind farms. In the past, that process was up to local government.
The meetings are part of Invenergy’s Public Involvement Plan, which was filed with the State Department of Public Service in June.
That plan identifies the project area and stakeholders and schedules public informational meetings.
Invenergy representatives have made presentations to the Town of Clinton Wind Energy Board and the Ellenburg Town Council.
It has scheduled presentations with the Altona Town Council for Aug. 10 and the Mooers Town Council on Aug. 11.
Ellenburg Town Supervisor David Leonard said even though the state is now in charge of the environmental review, it is reassuring the company plans to meet with the various stakeholders to disseminate information and address concerns.
They have even set up an office at 5591 State Route 11 in the town.
“I think it’s very important to get the information out and respond to questions people have,” he said.
Leonard said while project plans are still in development, town officials are interested in seeing it move forward, which will include negotiation with the host community and payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
He said the revenue from the other wind towers in the town have been a tremendous help to the municipality and its residents.
“The payments have lowered our property taxes quite a bit since 2006,” he said.
Invenergy expects to pay up to $4.5 million per year in property taxes and tax-related payments to the local taxing jurisdictions, including Clinton County, the four towns, school districts and local fire districts. That figure would also include lease payments to landowners and staff salaries.
The wind park is expected to create about 150 jobs during peak construction.
Miller said they would also build an operations and maintenance office on site. They plan to hire local workers to staff that center, he said.
The Public Involvement Plan has to be available for review at least 150 days prior to the filing of a Preliminary Scoping Statement.
The scoping process would then take at least three months, during which interested parties can submit comments to help decide the studies the company would include in its subsequent formal application under Article 10 of New York State Public Service Law.
The various levels of permitting and transmission reviews leave a best-case scenario for construction sometime in 2018, Miller said.
They already have more than 50 leases signed that cover more than 13,000 acres for turbine sites and other related infrastructure such as access roads.
“That is going very well for us,” he said.
Miller said Invenergy was attracted to the area for three main reasons.
The first is the area has a good wind resource, and the second is that the communities appear receptive to wind power projects, both evidenced by the five other wind parks already in operation nearby.
Third, there is convenient access to transmission lines. The plan calls for a transmission line from the wind park to a switchyard it plans to build next to the New York Power Authority’s Ryan-Plattsburgh 230-kilovolt transmission line.
“It’s an ideal place to connect (to the grid),” Miller said.
While they have not entered into an agreement with the state on the purchase of the power produced, Invenergy officials are watching New York’s continuing development of a Large-Scale Renewables policy.
“That does create a market for these type of projects,” he said.
Invenergy has developed 43 wind farms in the United States, Canada and Europe.
That includes three in New York – the Marsh Hill Wind Energy Center in Steuben County and the Orangeville Wind Farm and Sheldon Wind farm, both in Wyoming County.
Miller said the firm is a privately owned U.S.-based company, which has helped them be successful with their other projects.
“We are a capable developer who has a record of doing this well,” he said.