REDFIELD – Town officials were racking their brains over possible revisions to their proposed wind law Wednesday with much of their deliberation centered around turbine height and sound.
The Town Council proposed a draft wind law earlier this year after developer Avangrid Renewables introduced its Mad River Wind Farm project in 2016. The proposed 320-megawatt project would include 88 turbines on land WoodWise Land Co. owns in the towns of Worth and Redfield.
Scrutiny from residents, Avangrid and WoodWise officials during earlier review sessions, however, prompted the board to re-examine its proposed law.
“We don’t want it to be a blatant restriction,” said Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon. “Our job is to protect our citizens.”
The board spent much of the 1½-hour workshop for the law debating whether to preserve or alter the 500-foot height limit for large-scale wind turbines and the maximum sound limit of 35 A-weighted decibels, or low frequency sounds.
Avangrid’s attorney, James A. Muscato II of Young/Sommer LLC, encouraged the board to raise the height limit to 600 feet because most modern turbines have surpassed 500 feet, adding that having taller turbines typically means a developer would require fewer for a project. Taller turbines would also allow the developer to access “more consistent wind speeds” to produce more electricity, said Walter J. Meisner, project manager for Avangrid.
Mrs. Yerdon, however, said most wind laws she studied enforced a 500-foot turbine height maximum, and was concerned that few, if any, studies accounted for 600-foot tall turbines. Councilman Matthew Tompkins said 500-foot turbines would be “10 times taller than anything else in the town.”
“Hopefully (500 feet) is not a ban,” Mrs. Yerdon said. “It’s hard because we don’t know what the (Public Service Commission) has to say about this.”
Avangrid officials and Mr. Muscato had previously argued the existing sound rules in the proposed law would effectively ban wind farm development.
The developer previously stated that the rule requiring turbines not to exceed 35 A-weighted decibels “for more than five consecutive minutes,” would limit development to only 50 percent of the landowner’s 20,000-acre parcel, and other components would require turbines to be ‘virtually inaudible.”
Mr. Muscato requested the board to raise the limit to at least 45 A-weighted decibels. While other laws had similar provisions, Deputy Supervisor Carla Bauer said the board needed to consider how higher sound levels would affect wildlife within the town.
“I’m in favor of 45 (A-weighted decibels), I’ll say it right now,” said Councilwoman Elaine Yerdon, “45 seems reasonable in my opinion.”
While it made two minor changes to the law, the board tabled any action regarding sound and turbine height until Avangrid provided more information.
The developer plans to host a presentation to address board inquiries at 7 p.m. Monday at the town office, 4380 County Route 17.
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