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State approves 242-megawatt wind farm in northern Steuben County

A state siting board today gave approval to developers to build a wind farm and supporting infrastructure in northern Steuben County, close to the Livingston County line.

The 242-megawatt Baron Winds wind farm, which will be constructed and operated by a subsidiary of the German energy company, innogy, will consist of up to 68 wind turbines. The turbines will be 492 feet tall and will be spread out over acres of privately-owned agricultural and recreational land in the towns of Cohocton, Dansville, Fremont and Wayland – all in Steuben County.

As part of the project, innogy will also construct 16.5 miles of access roads; 31 miles of underground electricity collection lines; an electrical substation; a point of interconnection with the existing electrical grid; up to four, 328-foot-tall meteorological towers; up to two temporary staging areas for construction; and a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot operations and maintenance building.

The siting board noted in a press release announcing the approval of the project that innogy expects the wind farm to have “a major positive economic impact” on the communities in which the wind farm is located.

Local governments, for example, will receive annual PILOT payments of about $1,285,000 for the next 20 years, according to the press release.

Host towns will also receive payments totaling about $600,000 per year for the next 20 years under the terms of community benefit agreements negotiated with innogy.

The energy company also expects the wind farm to create 117 temporary construction or construction-related jobs across the state.

Participating landowners will also receive payments under lease agreements with innogy.

Under state law, the siting board that gave the project approval is supposed to consist of seven members – five permanent and two ad hoc members who live in the area where the wind farm will be located.

A siting board spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday about who the two ad hoc members from Steuben County were.

The board stressed in its press release that the wind farm’s approval followed “a rigorous review and robust public participation process” that ensured all stakeholders had ample opportunity to offer input and voice concerns.

“The siting board held two public information sessions, two on-the-record public statement hearings, one procedural conference, and one evidentiary hearing, all in the area of the project, with over 140 total comments,” said the board in its press release. “…In making its determination, the siting board determined that, with appropriate certificate conditions in place, any impacts to the environment have been avoided or, if unavoidable, mitigated to the maximum extent practicable.

To learn more about the Baron Winds wind farm, visit the state’s Department of Public Service website here.