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Richland adopts wind law

RICHLAND ­­—The Town Council adopted a law that regulates wind energy facilities Tuesday to prepare for possible development down the road.

The local law, which has been in the works for three months, limits turbine placement for small and large-scale wind energy facilities to the rural agricultural and industrial sectors of the town and establishes maximum height, setback and sound levels. It also establishes decommissioning requirements.

While no wind farm has been proposed for construction in Richland, Town Supervisor Daniel C. Krupke said town officials wanted to take a proactive approach to protect the well-being of town residents and assets should a developer consider the town suitable for one. The board’s decision also was partially fueled by Avangrid Renewables’ proposition to build a portion of its 350-megawatt Mad River Wind Farm in the nearby town of Redfield. The rest of the project will be built in the town of Worth, Jefferson County.

“The discussion was that by the time someone proposed a wind project and no law was in place, it would be very difficult to try to manage it and enforce (any law), so we wanted to be ahead of the game,” Mr. Krupke said. “I think wind energy in the right location can be good for the environment and good for the community.”

The law requires large wind energy facilities that generate 100 kilowatts or more to stay one mile away from facility property lines and their turbines to be no taller than 500 feet, and prohibits the noise from them from exceeding 35 A-weighted decibels for more than 5 minutes to “protect nearby citizens from harmful infrasound.”

Turbines at small wind energy facilities, or systems producing less than 100 kilowatts, can be no taller than 75 feet and must be set back from property lines and any dwelling by 1.5 times their height, according to the law.

Ginger D. Schroder, a founding partner of Schroder, Joseph and Associates LLP, said she felt the law, which was provided to her for feedback, established limits that would adequately protect residents from possible adverse effects from wind farms. Ms. Schroder works with multiple citizen groups that oppose wind farm development in their areas.

“I just thought Richland really thought about how to protect its community,” she said.

The board held a public hearing on the law and allows for public comments at its meetings, and Mr. Krupke said the law received no opposition from residents.

“Hopefully, they like the direction that we went,” he said.

Avangrid plans to build 88 turbines on 20,000 acres in Worth and Redfield for its Mad River Wind Farm, a project that prompted both potential host communities to draft wind regulations.

Worth Town Supervisor Judy A. Nichols said her town’s proposed regulations, which will be included in the town’s zoning ordinance, should soon be ready for a public hearing. Town officials crafted the law with guidance from law firm Conboy, McKay, Bachman & Kendall LLP and BCA Architects and Engineers. The town retained both firms using intervenor funding awarded by the state for the Article 10 law review of Avangrid’s project.

“I feel our town needs to be covered,” Mrs. Nichols said. “As long as it doesn’t hurt people and doesn’t hurt the land, I have no problem with it. But if come to find out through investigation that there’s more harm than good, we’ll take care of it.”

Redfield Town Supervisor Tanya M. Yerdon could not be reached for comment.