Lowville town councilmen on Thursday delayed for one month a vote on several proposed zoning waivers for the Number Three Wind project – including an allowance for an overhead power line – after hearing concerns from residents about the line.
“I’m all for the project, guys,” East Road resident Jeff Schwan said. “I just don’t want to look at the lines.”
Invenergy Wind North America, based in Chicago, Ill., is proposing 35 to 50 turbines in the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg, with a 115-kilovolt substation to tie into the power grid proposed on farmland owned by Earl Nolt off Route 812 just northeast of the village of Lowville. A 4.5-mile power line is to connect the substation and switchyard, and Invenergy – in a letter seeking several waivers to the town’s wind law – asked that a town requirement that power transmission lines be “located underground to the maximum extent possible” be lifted.
Requiring the whole line to be underground would add likely $10 million to $15 million to project costs, the letter states.
Mr. Schwan and other residents in the vicinity of Maple Ridge Center suggested the developer should have calculated a budget with worst-case-scenario projections, particularly with the project to be assisted by federal and state subsidies.
They expressed concern that a high-voltage line running through the residential area would reduce the value of their properties and could even cause health issues.
Renee Loomis said she lives in the village with her family now but bought a property on East Road with the intent of putting a house there. “The view is what we paid for,” she said.
Former town Supervisor Arleigh D. Rice warned that underground lines may not be feasible in the more agricultural areas up the hill because of limestone and could negatively impact farm drainage. Mr. Schwan said it would probably make sense to bury a portion of the line and have it overhead in other areas.
Joan E. McNichol said when she and her husband, James Coffman, developed the Maple Run Homes complex on the hill overlooking Maple Ridge Center, they kept all utility lines underground, and she would like to see the wind company do the same in that area to maintain the viewshed.
Ms. McNichol, now the Lewis County attorney, noted she very much supports wind power and appreciated that the developer brought the waiver requests to the town rather than just trying to get the Article 10 siting board to override them.
Town attorney Raymond A. Meier said the Article 10 process takes most of the project review out of the towns’ hands, but the siting board is likely to respect wind laws that are on the books. “Their preference is to give deference to the locality,” he said.
John Yancey from Yancey Road in the town of Harrisburg said his residence is impacted by flicker effect and noise from the nearby 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm and television reception was also initially impacted. He suggested compensation for such impacts on non-participating landowners be looked at in advance, particularly with proposed Number Three Wind turbines to be a couple hundred feet taller than those at Maple Ridge.
Citing the extensive discussion and submission of some written material from Mr. Rice, town board members decided to wait until their 9:30 a.m. Nov. 16 meeting to vote on the waiver requests.
Marguerite Wells from Invenergy was on hand to field some questions during the public hearing Thursday. Following the hearing, she also told board members that company officials continue to work with Fort Drum to find ways to mitigate potential radar issues with the wind project. “We’re trying to be collaborative,” she said.
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