LOWVILLE – The Lewis County Planning Board on Thursday signed off on amended plans for the Copenhagen Wind Farm project that now features fewer, but slightly taller, towers.
“The zoning is still the same,” county Planning Director Frank J. Pace said.
The board approved plans for the project, which would now feature 40 turbines on roughly 6,605 acres of leased private land in the town of Denmark, by a 4-0 vote, with board member William J. Burke abstaining; Mr. Burke is a landowner in the nearby 195-tower Maple Ridge Wind Farm; he and family members have worked for the company that owns it.
While the proposed Copenhagen Wind Farm’s production capacity has been capped at 80 megawatts, advances in wind technology will allow Brooklyn developer OwnEnergy to use 2-megawatt turbines, rather than the 1.7-megawatt ones that were planned; that forced a reduction in towers from 47 to 40.
The change will reduce the project’s footprint, and the new plan also drops the number of proposed meteorological towers from three to one, Mr. Pace said.
In his review of the project, the planning director wrote that alternative energy projects “present an inherent benefit to the environment,” reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
“The project will also provide an economic stimulus to the local economy with the temporary construction work, material purchases and lodging, to name a few,” he added. “Additionally, the long-term benefit will provide several employment opportunities and generate revenue for participating landowners and the community.”
Affected taxing jurisdictions have tentatively agreed to terms on a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the wind farm, but it still must be approved by the Lewis County Industrial Development Agency, which would administer the PILOT. Payments have been expected to total at least $15.5 million over 20 years.
The Copenhagen Wind Farm, being developed by OwnEnergy with local partner Jerry B. Wichelns, also would include access roads, power lines and a collection substation, including a proposed operation and maintenance building on Plank Road.
It would also feature a 115-kilovolt overhead power line running about nine miles through the towns of Champion, Rutland and Watertown to connect the wind farm to a National Grid substation near Burrville, but the Jefferson County portion was not part of Thursday’s review.
The switch to the higher-capacity units would result in a maximum height at the blade tip only six feet higher – from 492 to 498 feet – than the older models, an OwnEnergy official has said.
In comparison, the 1.65-megawatt turbines used at the nearby 195-tower Maple Ridge Wind Farm have a maximum height of about 400 feet.
The Lewis County Planning Board also approved a wind power overlay district proposed by the town of Denmark to regulate the wind farm.
With the county board’s approval, the site plan now goes back to the town Planning Board for final approval, while the overlay district must be approved by the Denmark Town Council.
In other action Thursday, the Planning Board approved the site plan for a 4,500-square-foot building, containing 32 self-storage units at 9064 Route 812 in the town of New Bremen – a project being proposed by Thomas R. Schneider.
However, the board recommended that New Bremen planners, before approving the project, request a more specific plot plan describing the location of the proposed building as well as plans for driveway access, signage, parking, lighting and landscaping and giving assurance that local, state and federal regulatory requirements are being met.
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