CANTON – Citizens opposed to the proposed North Ridge Wind Farm continue to lobby St. Lawrence County legislators against the controversial project.
Four people spoke during Monday night’s public comment session against a plan by Avangrid Renewables to construct an industrial wind farm in the towns of Parishville and Hopkinton that would have 40 turbines up to 500 feet high.
Members of Concerned Citizens of Rural Preservation said they wanted to counteract some of the information presented to legislators last week by Christopher Ollson, an environmental health scientist affiliated with Avangrid, and by Scott L. McDonald, a senior business developer with the firm.
David Snell, Parishville, disputed claims by Avangrid officials that the existence of a wind farm does not decrease property values for those who live near the turbines.
“We take issue with that,” he said. “Based on articles and research documents, there’s an upwards of 40 percent drop in property values. We’ve had calls from people in Chateaugay who say they can’t even sell their property because the wind tower is near their house.”
Mr. Snell said it’s also inaccurate for Avangrid officials to claim that they haven’t discussed Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) agreements with taxing entities in the two towns.
“There have been initial discussions between Avangrid and the school superintendent from Parishville-Hopkinton and the town supervisors, so they have begun that process,” he said.
Based on their research, Mr. Snell said PILOT payments typically only provide 20 percent of revenue compared to property taxes.
“That’s something we as a county and townships need to look at very, very carefully,” he said. “In fact, along this line I hope the county continues to look at this issue and consider what Jefferson County did and say no PILOTs for wind farms. I think that’s critical because PILOTs were really geared to bring in employment. This project will only bring in employment for a few months of construction.”
Avangrid officials have said they will employ about 125 people during construction and afterward, up to six permanent full-time employees.
The taxing entities, including the towns, county and Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District, would have to approve PILOT agreements with Avangrid.
Lucia Dailey, Parishville, said an industrial wind farm can have a negative impact on the Robert Moses hydropower dam in Massena.
“Just yesterday, a power worker told me that when the turbines in Chateaugay do produce electricity, 20 to 25 percent of the time, the Robert Moses Power Dam on the St. Lawrence River has to cut back on its production to protect the grid,” she told legislators. “The hydropower dams, as you know are a significant source of revenue to our county and to our towns. Why compromise these revenue-producing green energy facilities for unreliable wind power that has to be heavily subsidized by taxpayers.”
Lori Whitherell, also of Parishville, said noise produced by wind turbines fluctuates, which means at times it can exceed levels that are considered safe.
“Noise generated from wind turbines depends on many factors including distance, topography, wind direction, tower height and capacity. Unfortunately, wind companies use an average to stay in compliance wit local wind laws,” she said.
William Dailey said lease agreements reached by Avangrid with property owners contain a clause that prohibits land owners from publicly complaining about noise or other concerns that may arise once the wind turbines start operating.
“The lease holders in effect have signed away the rights to complain,” Mr. Dailey said, noting that the wind company is allowed to terminate the lease, but the property owners are not afforded that right.
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