BARRE – “I need more information.”
That was the general consensus of residents who gathered in the Barre Town Hall on Wednesday night, looking at informational boards and talking to representatives as they sought to learn more about the Heritage Wind project.
The project is the second Apex Clean Energy is looking to put into Orleans County. The company has already proposed Lighthouse Wind in Yates.
According to Ben Yazman, Heritage Wind lead developer, the project area would include the entire town of Barre.
“We’re looking for a strong wind resource, which we know is here,” he said while explaining what goes into deciding a potential wind mill farm location. “We’re looking for open agricultural land. We’re looking for interconnection opportunities because we need some kind of underground grid.”
Heritage Wind is in the Public Involvement Program portion of the Article 10 process. Plans call for the Primary Scoping Statement – the next step in the process – to be possibly released in March.
Heritage Wind has currently signed on 2,500 acres to date, and Yazman said the rate which the company has been signing has been significant.
The Heritage Wind project could generate up to 200 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power 53,000 average New York homes.
Town resident Robin Borben came to the meeting to get some information on the proposed wind project.
Standing in front one of the information boards, she said she wants to know how the project would impact the environment and how everything works. However, currently, she sees how the project can be beneficial for the community.
Doreen Brumbaugh, also of Barre, came to the open house to find out the facts of the wind farm.
“I want to see what it is going to do to the environment,” she said. “The animals and stuff.”
Brumbaugh’s biggest concern regarding Heritage Wind is how it will affect residents as home owners. She currently isn’t leaning for or against the project.
But John Metzler, a Barre resident, was fully against the wind project. He had a table out in the foyer protesting against it.
Metzler said he started researching wind farms about five months ago, and felt there was too many unanswered questions.
WIND IN BARRE
It isn’t the first time Barre was considered for a wind farm site.
In 2008, the Spanish company Iberdrola considered building 60 turbines in town, with most in the Pine Hill area and western portion of Barre.
But the idea was dropped after Federal Aviation Administration standards prevented windmills from being placed within two miles of the Pine Hill Airport runway.
“They did the wind measurements,” said Supervisor Mark Chamberlain back in April 2016 when the project was first announced. “They proposed a plan. They laid it out and then decided they couldn’t do it because of Pine Hill Airport took a big chunk out of the middle.”
In 2008, the town also passed Article XI of the Wind Energy Overlay Zone of Barre, which lays out in exacting detail what a proposed wind project must do for potential approval.
The 24-page document details the application process, analysis and decommissioning plan which must be provided to the town.
The standards for wind energy conversion systems say no individual unit can be located along the major axis of existing communications links or transmission lines if it will interfere with the operation, or (be located) near a place of existing fixed broadcast or personal communication systems, if a windmill (would) interfere with signal transmission or reception.
The zoning code also says windmills must be located in a manner that “minimizes significant negative impacts on rare animal species in the vicinity, particularly bird and bat species.”
Windmills cannot be installed where they can interfere with normal flight patterns at area airports and private airstrips.
The setback is 1.5 times the tip height of the windmill for any and all public roadways or above-ground power lines in the vicinity.
The setback distance also cannot be less than 1,000 feet from any existing residential or commercial building and no less than 1.5 times the tip height of the windmill measured from the property lines of where the unit is to be sited.
Power lines servicing the project are required to be underground at a minimum depth of 48 inches, or even deeper if required by state and federal regulations.
Windmill towers, according to the zoning code, cannot exceed a tip height of 500 feet.
FUTURE PUBLIC MEETINGS
There will be another open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the new Heritage Wind office at 49 N. Main St. in Albion. There will also be a public hearing on the application of the MET tower at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Barre Town Hall.