ARKWRIGHT – The town of Arkwright is slowly but surely propelling forward in seeing a wind farm erected by the end of next year.
Jeffrey Nemeth, project manager of Arkwright Summit, paid the town board a visit at its most recent meeting to give an update on the project.
Most importantly, the project committee has been working closely with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regarding wetlands that could be affected by the wind farm.
“I’m working with the DEC on our wetlands, and a lot of wetlands had been identified here in this area. We’ve been working with them on limits to disruption, trying to minimize some of that. We eliminated one of the access roads (we had planned), because one had a lot of impact with wetlands,” said Nemeth.
“In an effort to minimize our wetlands effect, we’re looking to buy an (operations) building and renovate it on Route 60, located in the town of Pomfret,” Nemeth added.
A building was originally planned for in the town of Arkwright, where wetlands would have been heavily impacted.
“We’re working right now with the DEC as far as our Article 24 permit which handles our wetlands. It’s moving slowly; we’re hoping that we will have our Article 24 permit with the DEC by December or January, which will allow us to do all of the tree clearing in January.”
An Article 24 permit, according to dec.ny.gov, is the Freshwater Wetlands Permit, which “The Department of Environmental Conservation was charged with implementing this policy through its Freshwater Wetlands Regulatory Program. Intended to prevent despoliation and destruction of freshwater wetlands, these regulations were designed to: preserve, protect, and enhance the present and potential values of wetlands; protect the public health and welfare; and be consistent with the reasonable economic and social development of the state.”
Other factors need to be ironed out as well. According to Nemeth, the lawyers are nitpicking about some language in the IDA agreement, but that’s expected to be closed with the county by the end of August, which is another exciting milestone for the project.
Another thing that stands in the way is an apparent sighting of a Northern Long Eared Bat. The area needs to be cleared as not being a habitat for that animal before Arkwright Summit is allowed to clear trees there.
“We still have the Northern Long Eared Bat requirements on when we can do clearing. The state of New York has said they’re going to impose requirements, and we’re working with those … so we can do tree clearing. I’ve been spending a lot of time with the DEC and Army Corps of Engineers on wetlands and the Northern Long Eared Bat,” said Nemeth.
The project moving forward largely depends on getting the Article 24 from the DEC, but after that, it should be smooth sailing for the project to begin.
In January, the project unit hopes to start clearing trees. In May is when they hope to start major construction – access roads and the installation of foundations. In July is when turbines will hopefully start being erected.
“We are right now looking at an October commercial operation date,” confirmed Nemeth. “A majority of the major milestones have been hit. What’s left is getting onto the grid (getting permits from those whose utility lines may be affected), and getting the wetland permit,” Nemeth concluded.