REDFIELD – Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon is worried that the proposed Mad River Wind Farm could threaten the local ecology, water resources and tourism industry.
Developer Avangrid Renewables plans to build its 350-megawatt wind farm within a 20,000-acre plot of working forest in the towns of Redfield and Worth, but its location within the Tug Hill Plateau and proximity to Fort Drum has drawn concerns from elected officials and organizations like the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust.
Town officials recently voiced their own worries in a news release and in their comments about the developer’s preliminary scoping statement. Their comments stated that the 88-turbine project “poses a serious threat” to local water sources like the Tug Hill Aquifer and the Salmon River, residents’ health, nearby radar facilities and recreational activities such as snowmobiling, fishing, hiking, hunting and trapping.
“I just want to make sure everything is OK before we agree to the project,” Mrs. Yerdon said.
The town supervisor said she spent last summer traveling throughout the country visiting communities with wind energy facilities to speak to residents and officials.
During her discussions and research, she said she learned about how wind turbine construction contaminated water sources in some areas and how infrared sound and shadow flicker from turbines have led to health problems such as headaches and depression.
The information she said she gathered last year sparked her own apprehensions about the construction for Avangrid’s project possibly contaminating the aquifer and Salmon River watershed, which several towns use for drinking water, turbine noises that “sounds like a cat screaming” and towers impeding outdoor recreation, which boosts local economies in the Tug Hill region.
“It worries me that here comes this large company into our rural town and proposing to industrialize a third of the town,” she said.
Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Avangrid, said in an email that the developer will continue working with town officials and try to satisfy their qualms and inquiries.
“The (news) release appears to jump to conclusions about potential impacts without any evidence specific to our project, and appears to disregard the experience in hundreds of communities around the country that have enjoyed substantial local benefits from wind farms,” he said.
The town also echoed concerns shared by the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, the Jefferson County Legislature and elected officials like Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, about wind farms near Fort Drum, including the Mad River Wind Farm, affecting the post’s radar facilities and training operations.
Mrs. Yerdon said she was particularly troubled about the planned wind farm possibly affecting the weather radar in Montague.
“These towns on the Tug Hill depend on that (meteorological) tower,” she said. “This is how our highway superintendent can get ready for storms. It could be detrimental to how we run our town because everyone knows the majority of the town budget is for the highway department.”
Avangrid submitted its preliminary scoping statement for its Mad River Wind Farm in December to the state Public Service Commission, completing the second major step in the state Article 10 review process.
“We are proud of our track record partnering with communities to deliver clean energy and local economic benefits,” Mr. Copleman said. “We encourage parties to share concerns, in order to ensure that our studies and the permitting process can address them.”
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