William M. Moore, principal of Hudson Energy Development, confirmed the company has started evaluating a wind project across a handful of towns in southern Jefferson County.
The move comes after Hudson, of Albany, sold development rights to the Galloo Island wind project last December to Apex Clean Energy, a renewable energy company in Charlottesville, Va.
Twenty farmers across six towns in Jefferson County – Henderson, Hounsfield, Adams, Rodman, Ellisburg and Lorraine – have been invited to attend a meeting this week held by Mr. Moore to evaluate their interest in such a project, said Jay M. Matteson, Jefferson County agricultural coordinator.
Mr. Matteson said he was asked by Mr. Moore to inform the farmers about the meeting. He said a pair of farmers, whom he declined to name, helped Mr. Moore identify other farmers who might be interested in the project.
“Farmers will meet with the developer and have the opportunity to hear what’s proposed and decide if they want to consider it,” Mr. Matteson said Monday.
Farms have been identified in an area that encompasses “basically all of southern Jefferson County west of Interstate 81 … but going just east of 81 into Adams and a little bit into Rodman,” Mr. Matteson said.
Though attempts were unsuccessful on Monday to interview Mr. Moore by phone, he told the Times in a voicemail message that Hudson is in the “exploratory stages of looking at a larger project in Henderson and some surrounding towns … There may or may not be an opportunity to have further conversations, and I think that’s really about all that’s worth saying at this point.”
He added that the effort – solely planned by Hudson – is not associated with Apex’s 31-tower, 102.3-megawatt project that calls for 575-foot-tall turbines on Galloo Island in the town of Hounsfield. Hudson sold development rights for the project to Apex in December after spending roughly two years developing it and began the state-led Article 10 siting process for the project last year. Apex has continued to follow the timetable set by Hudson for approving the project, with the goal of constructing the wind farm by the end of 2018.
Mr. Moore is well-known in the north country for leading the development of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County, which spans a rural area similar to southern Jefferson County.
In 1999 Mr. Moore, then the owner of Atlantic Renewable Corp., of Maryland, began showing up at Lewis County farms and town halls to propose the wind project in the Tug Hill region. Though his initial plan called for 50 turbines, the project grew into a 195-turbine, 320-megawatt wind farm – the largest east of the Mississippi River. Completed in 2006, the wind farm encompasses the towns of Lowville, Martinsburg and Harrisburg.
‘ACRES OUT OF PRODUCTION’
Jefferson County Legislator Jeremiah J. Maxon, who is a JCIDA board member, said it will be interesting to see how the agriculture community reacts to Hudson’s proposal. The prospect of leasing farmland for such a project comes as farmers are struggling due to low milk prices. They’re also concerned about the potential negative impact of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal.
“I think it would make sense that they would look to alternative uses of their land, but every time you put a windmill on a farm you take acres out of production,” Mr. Maxon said. “So I don’t know if it’s good or bad, and I’m curious to hear what the farmers’ take on it is.”
Town of Ellisburg dairy farmer Douglas W. Shelmidine said he is among farmers who will attend the meeting with Mr. Moore to learn more about Hudson’s proposal. He said he first met Mr. Moore in the early 2000s, when the developer was planning his Lewis County wind project. Mr. Moore was also interested in pursuing a project in south Jefferson County at the time, and Mr. Shelmidine agreed to allow the developer to put up a test tower on his Ellisburg farm to measure wind speeds.
“I became acquainted with Bill at that point, and he remains interested in south Jefferson County,” he said.
It will also be interesting to see how municipal officials react to such a proposal, especially in the town of Henderson.
Hudson’s exploration of the project in southern Jefferson County comes as Henderson officials and residents have overwhelmingly opposed the Galloo Island project. The island’s closest mainland access is about six miles away at Stony Point in Henderson. But because the island is part of the town of Hounsfield, Henderson wouldn’t receive any property tax benefits from the project. Hounsfield officials, meanwhile, have supported the project.
Apex is expected to pursue 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency that would require approval from Jefferson County, Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District.
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