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Wind turbines being planned for Potter County

Wind turbines are likely coming to Potter County, several years after a previous attempt failed.

Plans call for 26 wind turbines, hundreds of feet high, to be built in a forested area of Hector Township, near the border of Tioga County. The company pursuing the multimillion-dollar project is Big Level Wind LLC of New Hampshire, a Walden Green Energy subsidiary.

Several years ago, the construction of wind turbines in nearby Ulysses Township had been on the drawing board with some towers to be placed in Hector Township. But the idea fell through, Hector Township secretary Bonnie French told The Era on Thursday.

That was then, and this is now. French said the company is hoping to get the project in the works before the end of the year.

“We can use the tax income. We haven’t seen any downers” over the project, she said.

The company zeroed in on Hector Township, and French called the topography and elevation perfect for the plan.

With a township that has about 350 residents, French said she has witnessed no opposition to the plans. In fact, she said township leaders are excited.

But Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel has seen otherwise.

“Some individuals have expressed concern to the county about the potential impact of this project on the Cherry Springs State Park international sky preserve, as well as the potential impact of forest fragmentation created by the clearing of roughly 200 acres for construction,” Heimel said. “These concerns should be voiced to Hector Township, which may be in a position to affect the development.”

The proposed site, in the Dodge Hollow/White Knoll area off Route 49, isn’t near residences or camps, French said.

“I just think it’s really exciting. I think they’re neat. I think the idea is awesome,” she said.

What’s more, the township would benefit financially, French said. The township is expected to receive an upfront tax payment of $75,000. There will also be an annual payment, based on $2,250 per megawatt generated, and the township would receive that money, minus other taxes.

The plan has been in the works for about a year. Transmission lines are also part of the project.

Next week an application for a subdivision is expected to be received by the township, French said.

“Because Hector Township has its own municipal planning commission, the county government’s regulatory role for this industrial development is minimal,” Heimel said. “The Potter County Planning Commission may be asked to submit comments on the plan, but the township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance is the regulatory tool and Hector Township officials would be the individuals who should be contacted with questions or concerns. One exception is the applicability of the Potter County Conservation District’s regulations for control of soil erosion and sedimentation during the construction phase.”

Regulatory agencies taking part in the project are the Hector Township Planning Commission, Hector Township Board of Supervisors, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Potter County Conservation District.

In about a month, a public meeting on the project is slated. A date has not been set yet, according to French.

John Soininen of Walden Green Energy said he could not provide a response for this story on Thursday.