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Town’s turbine ban faces new momentum  

For now, the town of Batavia is also very different. They’re friendly in person but the turbine reception is cold.

Credit:  By Jim Krencik | The Daily News | May 4, 2017 | www.thedailynewsonline.com ~~

BATAVIA – Troy Weiler explains his job as finding sites that are friendly for medium-scale wind turbines.

It involves talking with the farmers who would want to house one or maybe a half-dozen 900-kilowatt turbines, and pass the project on to wetland and engineering consultants.

In Genesee County, he has found John Riley, a farmer who wants to place a DW-61 turbine on his more than 600 acres of corn and soybeans off Galloway Road. Riley would like to have a single 225-foot monopole capable of hosting the 100-foot blades.

“If I was in a town that permitted it, we’d already be underway,” Riley said after Tuesday’s Town of Batavia Planning Board meeting. “I can’t move my land, so I’m here.”

That’s where the process ends, at least right now.

“I’m just trying to find people like John, where there are friendly ordinances,” Weiler, a business development manager for EWT Direct Wind Turbines, told a town planning board meeting Tuesday. “You guys are friendly, just your ordinance isn’t.”

That was greeted by laughs after a half-hour presentation that was supportive of Riley’s hope, yet deeply cognizant of why Batavia has not welcomed commercial wind projects in the past.

They broke up the meeting ready to consider a deeper look into a possible code change, but not willing to break it on a single idea.

“Right now, we’re just getting the feel for if the planning board was even receptive to a zoning change,” said Planning Board Chairman Kathy Jasinski. “I think we have to talk to the town board, but we need information before we do that … do we want to encourage (wind) … I truly don’t know.”

The town’s planning board has reviewed multiple solar power systems in recent months, leading members to debate their preferences for how agriculture, energy and the town be aligned.

Within the board are a Gordon Offhaus, who has agreed to take part in the industrial-scale Heritage Wind project in Barre. Don Partridge installed three 120-foot turbines on his farmland in the east end of town.

“I think something we should look at,” said Partridge, who sees wind as more productive than solar.

A majority seemed to prefer wind turbines to solar panels.

“They take up less space,” Jeremy Liles said.

Paul McCulloguh said that the preference is productive farmland – with solar taking up more than wind.

“What’s in it for the town?” Jasiniski asked Weiler, who said the project would sell power through the Community Distributed Generation model that sells to the closest buyers.

“Did we ask that of the solar (proposals)?”

Building Inspector Dan Lang said there has been negative feedback from neighbors near the proposed turbine since notice of it was raised. He suggested the town review other towns’ plans, and see where they have failed. Planning board members wanted to see the impact on property values in areas such as East Aurora that have allowed wind farms to operate.

“We’re not looking at a specific site or project,” Lang advised the planning board. “Right now, the way (the town code) reads, is that commercial wind systems shall not be allowed in any zone within the town of Batavia. We don’t want to look at a specific project, even exactly what you want to present. We look at the zoning code as a whole – do we or do we want to change our zoning?”

Whether the town – as a community and as a stretch of land used for residences, farms, business and natural environments – would be viable for a project like those in Wyoming County is questionable, town officials surmised. Riley’s farm gets winds that reach 6.5 meters per second consistently, and that’s great, Weiler said.

EWT’s closest turbine to Batavia is in downtown Toronto. Weiler said the company will have several in New York and the east coast this year, and is talking with farms in Barre and out near the massive Tug Hill wind farm about possible installations.

“If there was enough land for a wind farm, they’d be here,” he said. “We’re here because New York is trying to become a very green state, and our product works with that. A lot of the wind farms are utility scale, our stuff is very different.”

For now, the town of Batavia is also very different. They’re friendly in person but the turbine reception is cold.

Source:  By Jim Krencik | The Daily News | May 4, 2017 | www.thedailynewsonline.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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