REDFIELD – Wind energy facility developer Avangrid Renewables installed two temporary meteorological towers on a property encompassing the towns of Redfield and Worth and intends to submit a Public Involvement Program Plan for its new project, Mad River Wind Farm, potentially making it the first wind energy facility in Oswego County.
Paul N. Copleman, a communications manager for Avangrid Renewables, said the developers were looking to install six 190-foot temporary meteorological towers, including one in Worth and three more at undetermined locations, in November, to study the wind speed, wind direction, air pressure and temperature at three different heights in the area over time to determine if their project would be viable. Avangrid Renewables set up the first two towers about two weeks ago.
“We need a few years of wind data to get a handle on what the wind resource is like,” Mr. Copleman said. “Like any site we decide to start evaluating, at first glance it brings together an attractive quality.”
According to a map provided by Avangrid Renewables, the first tower is in the northwest corner of Oswego County, 2,288 feet from the Jefferson and Oswego county line and 3,612 feet from the Oswego and Lewis county border. The second tower is approximately 3½ miles south of the first tower and is 7,907 feet from the Oswego and Lewis county line.
Mr. Copleman said that Avangrid Renewables leased an approximately 20,000-acre plot of working forest land with logging roads and snowmobile trails along the northeast and southeast corners of Oswego and Jefferson counties, respectively, from Salmon River Timberlands LLC in order to install the temporary meteorological towers and potentially develop the Mad River Wind Farm on that site. The lease also covers other aspects of the potential development, including area surveys, construction and operation. More than 12,000 acres of the property are located in Redfield, according to Oswego County records, and Mr. Copleman said that approximately 6,000 acres are in southeastern Jefferson County.
The owners of Salmon River Timberlands could not be reached for comment.
“All of the met towers are on their property,” Mr. Copleman said.
The developers from Avangrid Renewables must also consider other factors that could affect development, including electric grid integration and the environmental conditions of the site.
Mr. Copleman said Avangrid Renewables has worked toward conducting an electric transmission study with the New York Independent System Operator to determine the locations and compatibility of existing grid interconnection points to either NYISO’s electric grid or an electric utility company’s grid. The developers will use the study to ensure that their project will not hinder their chosen interconnection points.
“We are looking at existing infrastructure to see where would be a good place to plug in,” Mr. Copleman said.
In addition to ensuring the project’s compatibility with existing electric grids, Avangrid Renewables must have multiple environmental surveys conducted on the property to determine project compatibility and its potential effects on surrounding ecosystems. Mr. Copleman said the songbird and raptor surveys began this fall.
“As we get further along, we will get direction from wildlife experts as well as from what initial surveys turn up,” Mr. Copleman said. “A lot of scientific evaluation goes into this.”
As the developers collect data from the temporary meteorological towers and surveys, they will continue to draft their Public Involvement Program Plan to submit to the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.
Under Article 10 of the state Department of Public Service law, all major electric generating facility development applications, including applications for wind energy facilities, must go through the Article 10 review process and, at the end, have a formal application to be reviewed by the seven-member siting board. Filing a PIP plan is one of the initial stages of the process where a developer provides project details, a list of stakeholders and the developer’s plans to update the stakeholders and community members on the project.
Mr. Copleman said that as of now, the list of stakeholders for the project will include Salmon River Timberlands LLC, Redfield, Worth, and Jefferson and Oswego counties.
“We’re glad that the process seeks to bring together many potential stakeholders,” Mr. Copleman said.
At this time, Mr. Copleman said, the developers have not decided on a specific number of wind turbines, project site boundary, overall megawatt output or local project office.
“It’s early,” Mr. Copleman said.
The developers have reached out and discussed their intent to install meteorological towers with both the Redfield and Worth town councils.
Mr. Copleman said that Avangrid Renewables received the building permits from Redfield Code Enforcement Officer John H. Howland to install their two temporary meteorological towers. Town Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon said that Daniel C. Murdie, a project developer from Avangrid Renewables, attended the town board meeting Oct. 13 to inform it about their intent to develop meteorological towers for their potential project.
“The meeting that Mr. Murdie attended was an informational meeting and nothing was discussed at length,” Mrs. Yerdon said.
Mr. Murdie also attended a Worth Town Council meeting with Donald F. Hammond, the regional director of engineering with Avangrid Renewables, on Sept. 12 to ask town board members if they would allow the developers to erect their towers, Worth Town Supervisor Judith A. Nichols said.
“(They said that) there would be no damage and they would clean up afterward,” Mrs. Nichols said. “We were very pleased with it.”
Avangrid Renewables was the first wind energy facility developer ever to approach the Redfield and Worth town boards to express an interest in developing a wind energy facility in their areas.
Both Mrs. Yerdon and Mrs. Nichols said their towns have no laws to regulate wind energy facility development.
“I personally have wanted it for a long time,” Mrs. Nichols said. “I have been thinking about it for two years.”
Kevin L. Gardner, chairman of the Oswego County Board of Legislators, said the developers have not approached him about the meteorological towers or the Mad River Wind Farm, but he is excited about its potential development.
Mr. Gardner said no other developer has tried to build a wind energy facility in Oswego County, potentially making Mad Creek Wind Farm the first wind energy facility to operate in the county outside of Apex Clean Energy’s intent to connect the Galloo Island Wind Farm to a substation in the town of Oswego. Oswego County also has no laws to regulate wind energy facilities.
“It’s exciting that areas are looking at other possibilities for energy sources,” Mr. Gardner said. “It is one more step to securing more renewable energy.”
Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators, said the developers mentioned their meteorological towers during a meeting about Deer River Wind Farm, a project managed by Avangrid Renewables’s subsidiary company Atlantic Wind LLC. At the time, Mr. Gray said that the attorney representing Avangrid Renewables, Peter H. Swartz of Swartz Moses PLLC, Skaneateles, asked him about the county’s tax abatement policy for large-scale alternative energy facilities, which requires developers to pay an amount equal to full taxation to the county regardless of any payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
“I told them ‘It is what it is,’” Mr. Gray said.
Avangrid Renewables and its subsidiaries are working on six wind energy facility projects that are at different stages of development throughout the state, including Horse Creek Wind Farm in Jefferson County, Deer River Wind Farm and Roaring Brook Wind Farm in Lewis County and the North Ridge Wind Farm in St. Lawrence County. The developer also operates the Maple Ridge Wind Farm in Lewis County.
“It’s always exciting to look at a new project, but we have a lot of work to do and a lot to learn,” Mr. Copleman said.
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