HENDERSON – Many Henderson residents expressed overwhelming disapproval of the Galloo Island wind project as they voiced their concerns during an informational meeting Friday evening at the Henderson Community Center.
Neil T. Habig, a developer for Apex Clean Energy, hosted the presentation, discussing the project’s current status and opening the floor to questions. Mr. Habig said he wanted to address specific concerns such as economic benefit and the impacts on property value and aesthetics.
“There were good, thoughtful comments from the audience,” Mr. Habig said.
The town of Henderson will not receive potential tax revenue or payment-in-lieu-of-taxes revenue due to its location in relation to the project, leading many attendees to question how the project would benefit local residents.
“It seems like it benefits the developers, but no one else,” said summer resident John M. Irwin.
A few benefits Mr. Habig said were a boost in economic activity the project would bring and the environmental benefit from the lack of carbon emissions. Mr. Habig also said the town of Henderson could indirectly receive benefits from the tax revenue Jefferson County will receive.
“(Henderson could) enjoy the benefit of that revenue,” he said.
Impacts on property value were disputed between community members and the developer, leading to a dispute on the validity of the Nanos Clarkson Research Collaboration Study.
The study, done by the Clarkson University School of Business, Potsdam, and Nanos Research of Ottawa, Canada, predicted a potential $40 million loss in property value from the project. Henderson Supervisor John J. Culkin said the town commissioned the study.
“Which we have a lot of faith in,” he said.
In the past, Mr. Habig said, the study was flawed because it did not account for the distance between the closest tower and the mainland, which would be approximately six miles. During the meeting, Mr. Habig said that the study’s sample data was too limited and had errors and disqualifying characteristics.
“It really is disgraceful,” he said.
Mr. Habig said there were eight other studies of more than 250,000 properties claiming no negative correlation between wind power projects and property value. Multiple attendees called the developer a “liar.”
“It’s fact,” Mr. Habig said.
The discussion led to more visual concerns about the project, including a need for more accurate visual simulation models and questions about the tower beacons.
Mr. Habig brought visual simulations of how the turbines would look from Wescott Beach State Park and Robert G. Wehle State Park, but multiple attendees requested simulations that more accurately reflect the town. One Henderson resident requested a visual simulation of Harbor Road. Other attendees asked for nighttime visual simulations due to the beacons.
“You’re one step ahead of me,” Mr. Habig said, adding that Apex developers are looking into beacons with sensor activation.
With concerns for local benefits, multiple attendees asked where Apex will purchase its materials and seek prospective employees for the three to five permanent positions and 100 to 150 temporary construction jobs.
Mr. Habig saidt Apex would have to purchase the 30-foot underwater cable from a company abroad because no U.S. company manufactures it, but also said that the company could purchase the steel components from domestic firms. In regard to labor, Mr. Habig said Apex is focusing on the qualifications of prospective employees.
“(They) could be Henderson people,” he said.
Many attendees questioned whether they were represented during the project’s Article 10 process.
Mr. Culkin said that the Town Board was doing what it could to represent the community and encouraged attendees to share their concerns on the project’s application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need on the state Public Service Commission’s website. Joan Treadwell Woods, an ad hoc member of the Article 10 sitting board for the project, introduced herself during the meeting.
“I’m here to observe and listen,” she said.
Local resident Robert E. Ashodian stood up and expressed his opposition to the project, receiving mixed reactions from his fellow audience members when he asked to speak.
“You guys want to destroy what makes everything beautiful in this community,” he said. “You’re the enemy. The people in this community despise your project.”
Apex will construct 32 turbines for the Galloo Island Wind project, each one approximately 600 feet tall, and is expecting to produce enough energy for 35,000 homes. Mr. Habig said construction is expected to begin in late 2017 or early 2018.
“(My questions) were answered,” said Henderson resident Duane Q. Morton. “I didn’t like the answers.”