GUILFORD – A Town of Guilford board meeting discussing a proposed windmill project was held at the town garage Wednesday to accommodate the more than 80 local residents who turned out to share concerns over it.
At a heated moment in last night’s meeting town board members attempted to end the ongoing public comments. Several in the audience stood to object, some shouted.
As some board members acted to quickly pass a motion ending the session, some board members seemed to hesitate, and several in the crowd made comments anyway.
During the commotion one resident rose and exclaimed, “I’ve lived here all my life, never have I been so disappointed in my elected officials.” Another resident stood and asked, “Please, may I please make just a short statement?” “Why our backyard? What do we get out of it,” asked another. One man in the back, who did not bother to stand, simply yelled, “bullshit!”
After exchanging several comments, the board changed its mind and allowed 10 more minutes of public comment.
Residents are questioning the proposal to build some of the largest windmills in the nation in Guilford.
Currently the windmills are limited to 676-feet in a proposed local law, or more than 13 times the height of the Chenango County Courthouse. The company and town officials have discussed making allowances for larger ones as new technologies develop.
The towers will be built with the newest technologies and designs, making them some of the largest windmills yet built by the Calpine Corporation, an energy company worth billions, that describes itself as American’s largest geothermal and natural gas producer. The windmills will be approximately twice the size those built in neighboring Madison County about a decade ago.
According to the Calpine, the project will be called “High Bridge Wind Farm.” The wind turbines would be a 100 megawatt, utility-scale energy project.
Each turbine requires about 18 acres of land for the area containing its foundation.
The company expects to spend around $200 million on building the proposed project, company officials said in a prior meeting.
Town officials are still determining the number of windmills that might be built, between 30 and 20, what size limit they should have and how far from homes they should be. They will likely be visible from most of the town and neighboring towns. The windmills will be built on land leased by the company, paying those private property owners for the access.
As the project has gained attention some local residents have begun to organize against it. Signs against the project are now appearing on lawns across the area and about 15 people wore anti-windmill t-shirts at the meeting. The group opposed to the wind turbines has a website, saveguilford.com.
At the meeting, that lasted several hours, local residents complained about a lack of information and questioned the process. Dozens of residents spoke at the meeting, almost all of them against the proposal.
Many speakers requested a different style meeting so officials would actually answer direct questions from voters, instead of just letting people make public comments. Most if not all asked direct questions to board members about the project last night. Each time they were reminded that the public comment was for making statements and not a question and answer forum.
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