CHATEAUGAY –– The developer of the Jericho Rise wind farm project has begun site preparation work for the 37-tower project by clearing trees from tower locations and planned access roads to the sites.
Crews working for Jericho Rise Windfarm LLC were cutting trees in the Legacy Road area in the town of Chateaugay on Wednesday afternoon. The tree-clearing work began on Monday, according to Chateaugay Supervisor Don Bilow.
Survey crews were also working at multiple locations throughout the town plotting future locations for the tree removal work.
The wind farm project will spread over portions of the towns of Chateaugay and Bellmont, with 29 towers planned for Chateaugay and eight in Bellmont.
Sandra Sayyeau, an engineer with GDH Consulting, the firm advising the towns during the negotiations with Jericho Rise, told the Chateaugay Town Board on Monday that the crews meet each morning to plan where their work will take them during the day. She showed board members a map depicting all the areas where the tree-clearing is expected to take place.
Jericho Rise officials had originally planned to begin taking down the trees on April 1, but moved up their timetable to take advantage of the recent mild weather. The earlier date will also help ensure the work is done by the projected July 15 end date after the company agreed to suspend work for several weeks in early June so the operation would not affect bird nesting –– a concern cited in the environmental review of the project.
Work in some areas will also be delayed because of wet areas created by the recent rains and snowmelt, Sayyeau said. It could be several weeks before trees can be taken from those locations, she said.
The start of work came less than a week after the Chateaugay and Bellmont town boards approved permits with conditions that allowed the project to move forward.
As the physical work on the wind farm project begins, town officials and meeting with Plattsburgh attorney CJ Madonna to finalize a host community agreement with the developer. The agreement lays out the developer’s long-term responsibilities to the communities where the towers will be placed.
“Everything is going along fine,” Bilow said.
Chateaugay receives an annual host-community check of $525,000 from Noble Environmental Power, part of the agreement that permitted construction of a 71-turbine wind farm that came on line early in 2009. The payments are slated to continue for another 13 years.
The Jericho Rise wind farm was first proposed more than 10 years ago, but work stopped in 2009.
The project was revived in 2014 when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced it would be one of four renewable energy projects that would share in $206 million in state funding.
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