HENDERSON HARBOR – A Henderson-funded study on a proposed Galloo Island wind project is underway and expected to be done by the end of the year, according to town Supervisor John J. Culkin.
The move comes after Henderson agreed in July to spend $19,600 on the study, which will be jointly completed by the Clarkson University School of Business, Potsdam, and Nanos Research, a public opinion and research company in Ottawa.
The study will explore various impacts of the a 31-turbine project planned by Hudson Energy, Albany. It will explore how the project could impact the economy, viewshed and property values in Henderson, where Mr. Culkin said residents have overwhelmingly opposed the 102.3-megawatt wind farm.
Mr. Culkin said Tuesday that Henderson had no luck convincing other towns to pitch in for the study, which could have been expanded to include a broader area in the Golden Crescent region along the eastern basin of Lake Ontario. He had reached out to supervisors from the towns of Cape Vincent, Lyme, Brownville, Hounsfield, Ellisburg and Sandy Creek.
“No one was interested in participating, and I would imagine the most salient reason was they weren’t willing to spend the money on it,” Mr. Culkin said.
The island’s closest mainland access is about six miles away at Stony Point in Henderson, but it is part of the town of Hounsfield. As a result, Henderson would not receive property tax benefits from the wind farm, which calls for an underwater transmission route to a National Grid substation in the town of Oswego. Hudson’s proposed 575-foot turbines are expected to be visible from at least a 15-mile radius from the island, according to the state Public Service Commission, which is leading the Article 10 review of the project.
Henderson’s move to plan the study comes after residents previously were involved in opposing the original Galloo Island Wind Farm planned by Upstate NY Power Corp. of West Seneca. That 82-turbine, 246-megawatt project died in 2013 after nearly three years of inactivity.
To make the project affordable, Hudson plans to seek a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes deal from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency that would require approval from three affected taxing jurisdictions: Hounsfield, the Sackets Harbor Central School District and the county.
The study will be led by Dr. Martin D. Heintzelman, an associate professor of economics and financial studies at Clarkson’s School of Business. He has completed several research projects centered on land-use economics and property values.
Mr. Heintzelman said Tuesday that a viewshed analysis of the wind project on Henderson was started earlier this month as part of the study. He said the analysis will include all town properties that would be visually impacted by turbines. After the analysis is done, he said, data will be used to project what would likely happen to property values.
Mr. Heintzelman said research he conducted in 2012 showed wind projects affect property values in different ways. The 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County “had no significant impact on property values in that area, but I did find some negative impact from projects in Clinton and Franklin counties, near Chateaugay,” he said.
He emphasized there are no preconceived expectations for what the study will determine.
“The project that’s being completed is objective, and we’re doing an independent analysis that’s very data-driven,” he said.
Mr. Culkin added that he hopes the town could be eligible for “intervenor funding” as part of Hudson’s project that could help cover the study’s cost. Hudson will be required under Article 10 to provide intervenor funding to the PSC, which then would award it to municipalities and other groups affected by the project. The purpose of funding is to allow parties to contribute toward research that aids the PSC’s review of projects.
He said the town could decide to expand the study if it’s awarded intervenor funding. The town board originally decided not to include fund a $5,000 component of Clarkson’s proposal that would have analyzed the 20-year PILOT agreement to be pursued by Hudson.
“I’d like to put that component back in to see whether it would be a good deal for the taxpayers of Jefferson County,” he said.
Hudson told the PSC in its final Preliminary Involvement Program plan submitted in August that it plans to hold two public meetings in October about the project, in Henderson and Sackets Harbor. But Mr. Culkin said he has not yet been contacted by the developer.
Hudson also said it would launch a project website at http://www.hudsonenergydev.com by Sept. 15, but it hasn’t yet done so.
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