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Town of Farmersville: Windmill representative presents possible project

The wind turbine company Invenergy has been researching the possibility of building a wind project that will have turbines in the towns of Rushford, Centerville, Freedom, and Farmersville. The company is calling the proposed project “AlleCatt.” The company has not officially or unofficially approached the town of Farmersville concerning the possible project, but Town Supervisor Jerry Chmiel requested that a representative come to a town board meeting in order for board members to stay a step ahead of the company, in order to be prepared when Invenergy does approach the town concerning the project.

Mike Mulcahey of Invenergy attended a recent town board meeting to update and inform the town on the process and the plans as they stand now. Mulcahey advised the board that Invenergy’s plans included 15 to 20 turbines being constructed in Farmersville as a part of AlleCatt. The company has to go through a permit process with the Public Service Commission before any plans for construction can begin.

This process, Mulcahey reported, is a three-year process and the construction of the turbines could take between eight and 10 months. At this point there are no proposed sites for any of the turbines, and nothing has been submitted either at the town or county level. Chmiel asked Donna Vickman, Farmersville resident and county legislator, if there had been any discussion on the matter at the county level yet, and she answered that there had not been any.

“I have read the contracts that Invenergy is proposing and I think the company is overreaching,” stated one resident, Ginger Schroder, who is an attorney.

Mulcahey explained that he had meetings with both the Allegany and Cattaraugus counties’ IDA’s concerning the project, to outline how it would benefit the towns, counties, and schools. He stated that it could add between 10 and 15 jobs in the area and the average financial compensation to the towns is $13,000 per turbine. For 15 turbines, the town would receive an estimated $195,000.

The turbines that Invenergy would like to build are 500 feet tall and would have a noise level of 50 decibels. Mulcahey compared the noise level to a window unit air conditioner. The company anticipates the actual construction to take place in 2020 if all the permits, variances, and contracts are approved.

Farmersville’s Town Attorney Robert Strassel asked Mulcahey what Invenergy’s plans were for complying with the town’s law concerning the height limit, which is 450 feet. Mulcahey answered that the company would try to work with the town and ask the town to revise the limit so the 500-foot turbines would be in compliance with local laws. According to the Invenergy contracts, the length of the project is to be 40 years, and after the 40 years, the turbines would be removed.

Strassel recommended that the town insist on a stipulation in the contract that the removal of the turbines be the company’s responsibility at the end of 40 years, or should the company declare bankruptcy before the 40 years are completed. This stipulation would protect the town from being forced to accrue the cost of demolition for any reason.

The sole purpose of the 30-minute presentation was to answer any questions that residents and board members had. There have been no steps taken to request permits or contracts from the town or landowners yet. Chmiel is anticipating such requests in the next year or two and wanted the public to be informed on the matter before the issue became imminent.