There could be yet another wind farm coming to the northeast corner of the region, near Plattsburgh and Chateaugay. It’s called the Bull Run Wind Energy Center. And if it gets the go-ahead from New York State, it would bring 50 to a hundred new turbines to the area by 2018.
The project is in the very early stages, but there is already some opposition.
When you drive through this area, you almost get the impression there isn’t enough room left for another set of wind turbines. Or at least, that it’s starting to get pretty crowded. There are already five wind parks, sitting right in a row.
But developers see it differently.
“There’s a lot of open land up there. And it’s windy. So we think it works,” said Eric Miller, Director of Project Development for Invenergy. That’s the firm behind the Bull Run Wind Energy Center.
The proposed site includes the towns of Clinton, Ellenburg, Altona, and Mooers.
Miller said so far, everyone he’s heard from in the project area wants the turbines.
“We have had nothing but positive feedback,” he said. “I think people have seen wind turbines in that area. And I think they realize what they’re like and they’re fine with it.”
But there are people who disagree. North Country wind projects sparked big debates when they first started arriving in the region in the early 2000s, and they’re still controversial.
Right now, for example, there’s a fierce conflict over the proposed Galloo Island Wind Farm in Jefferson County. That would be on an island just off the coast in Lake Ontario. Shoreline residents say the new turbines would ruin their view of the lake, and reduce property values.
Back in Franklin and Clinton Counties, people are still filing grievances with local government officials about the turbines that have been going up over the last decade.
“The turbines have interfered with people’s lives in this town,” said Chad Garrow, a resident of Churubusco. That’s a hamlet in the town of Clinton, where some of the towers from the new Bull Run project would be.
Garrow said he’s already “surrounded” in all directions by windmills from previous projects, and he doesn’t want to see any more.
“I am for clean energy but I am not for destroying people’s lives in the pursuit of it,” he said.
Garrow believes wind turbines are harmful to his health. He said they create vibrations and noise. There’s a shadow flicker on his house at certain times in the day. And he said he also doesn’t like the way the turbines look on the landscape.
“We built this home to retire in. The home is paid for. Do we move? Do we give the home away? You come here and if you want to buy it, I’ll be amazed.”
Miller said his company does its best to address those concerns early on, before the construction phase.
“You run across that kind of complaint and we work hard at the start of the project to make sure that we address those things by spacing them far away from homes and looking at shadow studies and all those kind of things to make sure that we’re reasonably mitigating those things,” he said.
Miller said the project would create 10 to 12 new, permanent jobs and about 200 temporary jobs during the construction phase.
Invenergy would also pay residents “thousands of dollars” to have the turbines on their land.
“One way to look at it is, usually the revenue that people make off a project like this if they’re hosting turbines more than pays for their property taxes and probably many times over,” Miller said.
One of the towns in the project area is Mooers, which has never had a wind park before. Invenergy presented its plan to the town last month, and according to Town Supervisor Jeff Menard, 45 people showed up to hear about it. Menard said the only people who spoke out were supportive of the project.