More than 100 Guilford residents packed the town’s highway garage Wednesday evening for a special meeting of the town board to discuss the proposed development of an industrial wind farm.
Developed by the Texas-based Calpine Corporation, the project will consist of a maximum of 25 wind turbines – a reduction from the initially proposed 30 turbines – and generate a collective 100.8 megawatts of energy
Constructing taller turbines will improve the project’s efficiency, increasing energy production and requiring fewer turbines, according to Alec Jarvis, the company’s development director.
The project proposal also includes access roads, meteorological towers, electric lines, an operation and maintenance building and other infrastructure.
Development of the wind farm is contingent upon state approval of the company’s siting application, which representatives said they intend to submit next week.
A slideshow presentation delivered by representatives from Calpine summarized many aspects of the application in an effort to address concerns from residents.
The company proposed to address shadow flicker – the shadows cast by rotating blades on a sunny day – by exploring mitigation techniques like planting trees or erecting screens.
Guilford resident Betsy Dean voiced concerns over the noise created by the spinning turbine blades.
“We live here because it’s quiet,” she said. “We might have to move. Would you want that right next to your house?”
Calpine developers also prepared site-specific plans in the event of an emergency at the facility, and will distribute copies to local first responders.
The project proposal would not place any turbine within 100 feet of a drinking well, and each well will be protected from blasting and construction work by a 500-foot parameter, according to Gregory Lieberman, an environmental design and research contractor for Calpine.
Construction will create an estimated 67 full-time jobs, and operating and maintaining the turbines will provide seven full-time positions.
Company representatives also discussed measures for restoring the sites in the event the project falls out of use or is decommissioned.
“This is our town and our community,” said town resident Deb Munyan. “We don’t have to have Calpine here at all!”
Priscilla Welden, also of Guilford, said the county and town comprehensive plans both refer to wind as a “terrible resource,” and questioned Calpine’s motives for selecting Guilford as the site of a proposed wind farm.
“I don’t believe Calpine is here because we have great wind and that they’re going to make a bunch of money of off wind. They’re going to make a bunch of money off the subsidies from the state and the feds and the accelerated depreciation and they’re going to sell the company,” she said. “It’s really not about energy. It’s about the money that they get.”
“We’re betting that this resource is as good as our tests say it is,” Lieberman said.
“The whole premise of this project is that we have a reliable wind source,” Jarvis said.
In lieu of developers applying for state and local permits, the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, under the auspices of the state Public Service Commission, will address the project in a unified proceeding known as Article 10.
The application will consist of 41 exhibits, including preliminary design drawings, studies and analyses of the project’s predicted effects on transportation, local historic resources and natural resources, its noise impact, and the company’s proposed plans for plans on vegetation management, stormwater protection, security, health and safety.
Contents of the application will be available for public viewing at the Guilford Town Hall, Guernsey Memorial Library, Oxford Memorial Library and Gilbertsville Free Library.
The review process will take more than a year, Jarvis said, and public hearings on the matter will be held in the meantime.
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