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Wind developer renews several land leases in Clayton, Orleans, Brownville and Lyme

CLAYTON – The developer of the Horse Creek wind project recently renewed and updated several land leases across the towns of Clayton, Orleans, Brownville and Lyme, according to Jefferson County property records.

Records show that Iberdrola Renewables has finalized 15 such lease agreements this year under the name of its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC. Those agreements – all recorded by the county in February – re-establish lease agreements dating back to 2006.

The lease activity comes after Iberdrola recently decided to resume planning across the four-town area for its wind project, following about four years of inactivity. It’s now evaluating a project with a maximum generation capacity of 250 megawatts. The developer has said it still has about 30 private land leases totaling about 10,000 acres in the project area.

Records show that the new lease agreements are all for five years. They expire at different times.

Along with renewing old leases, the developer has revised some lease agreements that were already active; those agreements were approved less than five years ago.

Lease agreements made this year differ only slightly from previous ones, documents show. Unlike prior agreements, they give the developer the option to extend leases for an additional five years after the term expires. They still give the developer the option to approve an extended lease term of 25 years if the project breaks ground; the lessee would have the option to extend that term for another 25 years.

Paul N. Copleman, spokesman for Iberdrola, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

It appears likely the developer is planning a project similar in scope to the one it originally proposed in 2005 – except with larger turbines for more generating capacity. Instead of 2-megawatt turbines, it plans to use 2.5-megawatt or 3.3-megawatt turbines for the project.

The original 130-megawatt project called for 62 turbines in the southeastern part of Clayton and southwest part of Orleans. The area spanned from the hamlet of Depauville south to the Brownville town line and east into Orleans, where eight of the 62 turbines were planned. Iberdrola downsized that plan in 2011 by removing Orleans from the project’s scope, establishing a 96-megawatt, 48-turbine proposal.

As part of its re-evaluation, Iberdrola plans to erect meteorological towers – used to measure wind speeds – in the towns of Clayton, Orleans, Brownville and Lyme. The developer has made plans to put up three towers in Clayton and three in Orleans, but it has not yet contacted Lyme or Brownville, officials confirmed Tuesday.

The Clayton Town Planning Board, which reviewed the developer’s request for towers earlier this month, will further review the proposal during a public hearing at 7 p.m. March 3. The Orleans Town Planning Board will consider the developer’s request for the first time at 7 p.m. March 15.