- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Residents ask about potential effects and benefits of Mad River Wind Farm at open house

LORRAINE – Residents of Jefferson and Oswego counties Wednesday showed up to an open house about Mad River Wind Farm to learn how it would affect, and possibly benefit, their communities. Anthony M. and Jennifer M. Tubolino said they were curious about potential job opportunities developer Avangrid Renewables could create with its proposed wind farm in the towns of Worth and Redfield and wondered how it could affect their taxes. Mr. and Mrs. Tubolino, Worth, attended the open house, hosted by the project development team from Avangrid from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Lorraine Volunteer Fire Department, 20876 County Route 189, searching for answers.

As a crane operator, Mr. Tubolino said he wanted to know if the developer’s project would create construction jobs. The Worth resident was also curious about the how much the project would stand out in the town, a curiosity he said would have no effect on his opinion of the proposed project.

“If it can bring jobs and taxes (benefits) to our community, it’s no problem,” Mr. Tubolino said. “I think it’ll be a good fit for our community.”

Avangrid plans to create 20 permanent jobs for Mad River Wind Farm and about 350 construction jobs.

Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Avangrid, said the developer expects the project to provide communities with $2 million annually over a 30-year period.

“Ultimately, it injects a substantial, long-term source of revenue into the community it may otherwise not have,” Mr. Copleman said.

The development team Wednesday afternoon answered questions and presented materials depicting the proposed project layout, visual simulations and diagrams explaining the turbine components and construction process. Avangrid also hosted an open house from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the fire department.

“This is a chance to feel out people’s concerns and questions,” Mr. Copleman said. “That helps us hone in on what we need to look at.”

Avangrid and its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC, now plan to build 88 turbines that are 591 feet tall in an about 200-acre footprint within an about 20,000-acre plot of working forest it leased from Salmon River Timberlands LLC. Mr. Copleman said about 66 percent of the turbines will be located on the portion of the property within Redfield and about 33 percent of the turbines will be located on the portion of the property within Worth, but the proposed layout and additional project details are subject to change.

“(The proposed layout) is a draft, but it informs a lot of the research and science that goes into the permitting process,” Mr. Copleman said.

John E. Cheney attended the afternoon open house seeking out additional information about Mad River Wind Farm after attending an open house Avangrid hosted in March in Redfield.

In addition to wondering whether the proposed wind farm could offer tax or employment benefits like Mr. and Mrs. Tubolino, Mr. Cheney, a Redfield resident who work on the town’s zoning commission, said he examined the visual simulations eager to see how the project could impact the view shed.

“I think there will be minimal obstruction of the natural view,” Mr. Cheney said. “It sounds like the town could actually benefit.”

Bruce Watkins traveled all the way from Alexandria Bay to learn more about the proposed project and wind energy projects planned across the north country in general.

“I’m sympathetic to renewable energy sources which include, in appropriate places, wind, but I feel there also exists ample infrastructure for the use of photovoltaic arrays. We already have built structures with roof systems which could accommodate solar energy renewable installations without adding additional structures to the landscape,” Mr. Watkins said. “I’m yet to be fully sold on the use of wind turbines in light of solar energy arrays availability.”

Matt P. Smith, director of operations for the Salmon River Timberlands, said he was curious about the developer’s displays, particularly the visual simulations “which were nice to see.”

“(The displays) are useful because it’s easier to visualize when an actual study is being conducted,” he said. “Right now, they’re obviously in the early stages of testing for wind and doing studies.”

The forestry company, a subsidiary of WoodWise Land Company LLC, announced earlier this month that it would not allow snowmobilers to use the trails on its property this winter for reasons involving a conflict with town officials.

When asked about why the company closed off access to the trails, Mr. Smith deferred to a statement from the company. Salmon River Timberlands said in its statement that its willing to have further discussions with state and local officials to address the concerns from those involved and “in hopes of preserving recreational and economic opportunities.”

The company also said in its statement that company officials had “positive conversation” with State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, Assemblyman William A. Barclay, R-Pulaski, the office of Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River, and the office of State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

“We understand the importance of snowmobiling and the impact it has on the economics and quality of life here on the Tug Hill,” the company said in its statement.

Avangrid plans to host two more open houses from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Redfield Volunteer Fire Department, 4879 County Route 17.