Sponsors of a wind power project with 33 turbines proposed for eastern Broome County are now ready to proceed with the state’s lengthy regulatory review.
The 124-megawatt wind power generating facility – enough juice to supply an estimated 20,00 homes – would be erected on private land leased by Houston-based Calpine Corp. in the towns of Windsor and Sanford.
Bluestone Wind Energy, a unit of Calpine, submitted the first documents this week that will begin the state’s formal project review.
Although the general scope of the project was unveiled last year, Bluestone held off starting hearings before the state Public Service Commission while sponsors worked out lease arrangements with the landowners.
Turbines, some of which can reach nearly 600-feet in height from base to top tip of the blade, will be placed on hillsides spread across 38,000 acres – about 60 square miles – of rural parcels. Many of the turbines will be visible from Route 17.
In March, a Delaware Otsego Audubon Society survey indicated a large presence of bald and golden eagles throughout the project territory. The birds, they noted, could be affected by the project.
“The number of non-migrant eagles of both species was exceptionally high, considerably more than had been anticipated,” the group said in a report to the PSC.
Andy Mason of the regional Audubon Society, said his group is uncommitted on the project, awaiting the results of a similar survey conducted by sponsors.
“Seeing that many resident birds was a surprise to us,” Mason said.
In an ironic twist, some of the property owners in Windsor and Sanford gaining long-term leases from Bluestone were the same who won big money contracts for natural gas drilling in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale. Those now-expired natural gas leases lapsed when New York barred fracking four years ago.
New York is encouraging the development of renewable energy projects with incentives and tax credits under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to produce 50 percent of the state’s electric needs from sustainable sources by 2030.
A disclosure document indicates that land owners granting easements to access the towers or hosting the turbines will be paid between $2,500 and $30,000 annually by Calpine.
In terms of power generated, the planned wind farm will be among the larger projects in the state, although other projects for as much as 400 megawatts are also on the drawing board.
The closest existing wind farm is in Dutch Hill/Cohocton in Steuben County with 50 turbines, producing 125 megawatts of electricity. It came on line in 2008.
New York now has 17 commercial wind farms across upstate producing 1,739 megawatts of electricity – enough power to supply 285,000 homes – or about 4 percent of the state’s installed capacity, based on the most recent report from the New York Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electric grid.
A second Calpine project – High Bridge Wind – is being proposed the Chenango County community of Guilford, where the company proposed a 100 megawatt wind farm employing 25 to 30 turbines. The company began initial outreach for that project last year, and started to execute leases early this year.
As a part of the Bluestone project, Calpine expects to build up to a four-mile electric transmission line to bring the wind-generated electricity into a 115-kilovolt line in Sanford to connect to the statewide grid.
Construction on the Windsor/Sanford project is scheduled to begin late 2019 or early 2020.
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