LOWVILLE – The Number Three Wind company’s application to create a wind farm spanning the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg moved forward in the state’s vetting process with official public hearings Wednesday.
The process, known as Article 10 under the Public Service Law, was set in motion in January when the wind company filed an application seeking the coveted certificate that ensures the public need and environmental compatibility of their 105.8 megawatt wind farm.
The hearings, held at the Town Hall on Bostwick St., followed information sessions about the review process by the Electric Generation and Environment Siting Boards and the project itself.
Attendees were invited to ask questions throughout the informational forums, which were facilitated and overseen by administrative law judges from the state department of public service, Judge Michelle L. Phillips and Judge Maureen F. Leary and, from the department of environmental conservation, Judge Molly McBride.
Attendees were also encouraged to look at the various maps and the full copy of the proposal required to be made available by Three Wind.
Issues relating to Fort Drum’s concerns about windmill interference with radar both for weather and aircraft control came up often in both questions and comments.
Marguerite Wells, project developer for the wind company, explained that the core of the agreement being worked out with Fort Drum requires that the highest point of the turbine blades are not at a height that crosses the bottom beam of weather radar, eliminating the windmills’ appearance as weather as happens with Maple Ridge windmills.
A number of comments by community members were read into the official record that will be considered by the siting board.
Members of the Laborers’ Union Local 1822, farmers and potential windmill site land owners spoke in favor of the project citing the creation of construction jobs and the opportunity for strained dairy farmers to get additional income. Union members also requested Three Wind to hire local workers.
Representatives of the Tug Hill Alliance for Rural Preservation opposed the project for many reasons, including fear that the radar issue could eventually cause the closing of Fort Drum, the killing of birds and bats, noise pollution, infra-sound, negative impacts on property value and tourism and the turbines detracting from the natural beauty of the area, among others.
A procedural public hearing will also be held at the Town Hall at 9:30 a.m. today. The siting boards’ review and decisions will take approximately one year to complete.
To see the full project application, use case number 16-F-0328 in the www.dps.ny.gov search option, by mail to Secretary Burgess at the NYS Department of Public Service, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350 or when calling 1-800-335-2120.