The Town of Guilford on Wednesday night made a major step in clearing the way for a 25-turbine, 100-megawatt wind project as trustees unanimously approved a local law regulating construction and operation of the installation.
Here is what happened:
- Following a lengthy review, trustees determined the turbines will have no adverse environmental impact on the community. The Chenango County Planning Department agreed with the town’s determination.
- Approval came in spite of vigorous local opposition from some town residents who object to potential visual and other impacts. An organized group lobbied the board to reject the proposal, claiming the project will impair property values and will have long-term health impacts on residents.
- Town Attorney Brady Begeal told those 40 people assembled at Wednesday night’s public hearing at the town highway garage that the new local law represents input from project supporters and detractors. Despite claims by the opposition that the town was caving into all the company’s demands, Begeal said there were “significant changes” from the sponsor application.”Our local law is more restrictive than the application.” he said.
Turbines, up to 675 feet from base to tip, will be installed near Norwich
Known as the High Bridge, the project calls for turbines to be installed in an L-shape extending from the town’s southern border to the northern border, skirting the boundary with the Town of Norwich.
The turbines, which will rise up to 675 feet from the base to blade tip, will be installed along the peak of ridge lines.
As part of the state regulatory review, Guilford Town Supervisor George Seneck will request that Calpine provide further evidence that a large-scale wind installation has no impact on property values.
In return for the allowing wind farm construction and operation, Guilford will receive payment-in-lieu-of-taxes from project sponsors. Though payments are still undisclosed, they are expected to be higher than the taxes on the property on which the turbines will be installed.
Property owners allowing the turbines on their land will receive annual lease payments, amounts that have been kept confidential. Additionally, the state is underwriting a portion of the project’s cost, another sum that has not been divulged because it is characterized as proprietary.
Opposition responds with three write-in candidates
Though it lost the battle with town trustees, wind farm opponents are making the November election a referendum on the project. They have assembled a slate of three write-in candidates to run against the incumbent supervisor and two trustees. The three promise to impose a wind farm moratorium if they win spots on the board.
A similar project planned for eastern Broome County is subject to a temporary moratorium as the Town of Sanford reviews the potential impacts.
High Bridge is one of about a dozen wind projects proposed across upstate New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration work to reduce the state’s carbon footprint.
The state, in the recently ended legislative session, approved a wide-ranging Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which mandates the state produce 70% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
The measure includes the goals of reducing greenhouse-gas emission levels from 1990 by 85% by 2050, an ambitious goal that will require major changes for New York residents and industries that have long been reliant on fossil fuels to power their homes and cars.
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