HENDERSON HARBOR – A Henderson-funded study on the potential impact of the Galloo Island wind project found the town could face a total loss in property value of up to about $40 million because of the view of turbines.
During a meeting Monday night at the fire hall, people had a chance to ask researchers questions about the study, which was completed by the Clarkson University School of Business, Potsdam, and Nanos Research, a public opinion and research company in Ottawa, Canada.
The study explored various impacts of the 31-turbine, 102.3-megawatt project proposed by Apex Clean Energy of Charlottesville, Va., on the island in the town of Hounsfield. It includes an analysis of three broad categories: property values, jobs and tourism, and the impact on the viewshed. It is available online at wdt.me/wind-study.
When municipalities evaluate the impact of wind projects, they are typically able to weigh the pros against the cons. But in Henderson’s case, the study concluded that there would be few benefits. Though the island’s closest mainland access is about six miles away at Stony Point in Henderson, it is part of the town of Hounsfield. Henderson, as a result, would not receive any property tax benefits from the wind farm, which calls for an underwater transmission route to a National Grid substation in the town of Oswego.
Apex’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 project review.
Dr. Martin D. Heintzelman, an associate professor of economics and financial studies at Clarkson’s School of Business, said that because Henderson wouldn’t receive any tax benefits from the wind project, its impact would be largely negative – especially for the value of waterfront properties.
The analysis of property values in Henderson was based on a review of the impacts of the Wolfe Island Wind Farm in Ontario, Canada, on properties in Jefferson County, Mr. Heintzelman said. Turbines on Galloo Island would be much farther away from Henderson than those on Wolfe Island are to properties in Cape Vincent, he said, but the comparison provides a rough idea of how much affected property values could decline in Henderson.
Based on the sale of 26 properties in Jefferson County with a view of the turbines on Wolfe Island, he said, the analysis found that the value of the properties depreciated by about 15 percent after the wind farm became operational in 2009.
Under the Galloo project, the study estimated the median value of properties that would have a view of turbines to be about $220,000. It determined the value of those properties could drop anywhere from $11,300 (low estimate), $33,200 (central estimate) and $53,900 (high estimate).
“Because we took close turbine views at Wolfe Island and applied them to Galloo Island at a greater distance, it makes me more confident in the low-end interval,” Mr. Heintzelman said. Based on of all the 1,453 residential parcels in Henderson, “we come up with a total property value loss of about $40 million. And that’s looking at the projected sales over time, because it’s unlikely to all happen at once.”
Though the study didn’t look at other municipalities in the Golden Crescent region, Mr. Heintzelman concluded that they could likely see similar impacts on property values.
Clarkson researcher Stephen Bird – who led the jobs and tourism part of the study – said it was estimated that 66 to 120 temporary jobs would be created during a two-year construction period for the wind project. Those jobs would be expected to mainly come from Jefferson and Oswego counties. In addition, about six to eight full-time jobs would be created over the project’s 20-year life.
Mr. Bird said regional economic impact is estimated to be from $24 million to $30 million per year in “direct and associated earnings” and from $84 million to $105 million in “indirect economic impact” during the construction period. During the operational period, direct benefits are estimated at about $1 million, while indirect benefits are from $4 million to $5 million.
Because of the distance of the turbines from Henderson’s mainland of about six to 12 miles, the impact on tourism would likely be marginal, Mr. Bird said. He said that a review of the impacts of 20 offshore wind projects found decreases of about 5 to 8 percent in economic activity, but that was only when the turbines were about five to seven miles from the mainland.
“When you get above that range, you start to see a negligible impact on tourism,” he said, adding that the economic impact on water-related tourism activities – such as fishing and boating – would probably be marginal, based on previous estimates.
Henderson resident Robert E. Ashodian pointed out that many of the waterfront homes in the town along Henderson Bay and on Stony Point are assessed above $1 million. While the value of those homes could fall sharply due to their view of turbines, he said, homes in the $200,000 range without a view of turbines would probably see an increase in property taxes to make up for the overall drop in property values.
“If property values go down and the town isn’t going to spend less money, the tax rate is going to go significantly up for all of the homeowners who aren’t impacted,” he said.
According to Jefferson County Real Property Tax Services, an analysis of parcels affected by the viewshed of the turbines across a 10-mile radius from Galloo Island showed that 691 parcels, or about 67 percent of the total taxable value, are in Henderson. Other impacted municipalities would be Lyme (389 parcels), Cape Vincent (27 parcels) and Hounsfield (16 parcels).
After the meeting, Henderson Supervisor John J. Culkin said that he believes the wind project would have a devastating impact on the town and Belleville Henderson Central School District.
“Henderson would be hurt in a lot of ways and not benefit at all,” he said.
To view an interactive map viewer of the project, visit http://arcg.is/20Y5VEc”>http://arcg.is/20Y5VEc. An animation of the viewshed analysis is available at wdt.me/galloo-video.