Alle-Catt Wind Farm opponents spent the weekend addressing envelopes to Invenergy leaseholders pointing out plans to scale back the number of turbines in the 340-megawatt project spanning five towns.
The letters being sent out by members of Farmersville United and Freedom United say as many as 46 of the 117 turbines in Freedom, Farmersville, Rushford, Centerville and Arcade “would be completely eliminated.”
Since Alle-Catt opponents saw most of the local support for the wind farm coming from leaseholders, they wrote to the leaseholders asking two questions:
“If I were not going to receive any more lease money, would I still support the Alle-Catt wind project?
“If my town were to receive a lot less money or even no money under a host community agreement with Invenergy, would I still support the Alle-Catt wind project?”
The company confirmed a plan to site fewer turbines in a Nov. 5 response to Alle-Catt opponents’ questions posed to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. It intends to use General Electric turbine model 4.8/53-158.
Eric Miller, a spokesman for Invenergy, said in response to questions posed by the local Alle-Catt opponents that the number of turbine sites “depends on the final turbine selection.” If all turbines were 4.8 megawatts, 71 turbines would be needed. In this case, “41 of the 117 turbine sites being evaluated in the application would not be used.”
The determination of the final turbine siting would be based on “relevant determinations made by the Siting Board, wind resources at each turbine site, construction costs and environmental impact,” Miller wrote.
It’s not just some leaseholders with turbines on their property who will not be receiving payments if turbines are eliminated. Many leaseholders have agreements for underground cables to carry power generated by the turbines.
Opponents who claimed the 600-foot turbines Invenergy wanted were too tall and too close to property lines and residences cited a July 31 application update from Invenergy noting the selection of the 4.8-megawatt turbine.
They called it “a bait and switch” by Invenergy.
“It is the same height as the last model, but this new turbine has much longer blades and this produces more energy,” the opponents’ letter to leaseholders states.
“Which (turbines) will be removed?” the letter asks. “If your property has slow wind speeds, is further away from other project components, needs state land or railroad land access, has wetlands near it, those turbines are at risk of being eliminated.”
Freedom United member Denise Willard said Invenergy stands to save on construction costs with fewer turbines along with fewer jobs to maintain the smaller project, fewer leaseholder payments and fewer decommissioning bonds.
“What a deal for Invenergy,” Willard said. “What a scam for the leaseholders and the towns. No wonder Invenergy waited until the bitter end to announce this.”
Ginger Schroder, a Farmersville resident and critic of the project who is also on the legal team fighting the proposed Article 10 project, said the letter was sent to leaseholders because Invenergy had not yet informed them that fewer turbines would be needed.
Schroder said Invenergy’s push for leaseholders to vote for All-Catt-friendly candidates in the recent town elections “was to no avail as pro-Alle-Catt candidates were defeated, with incoming majorities on the town boards of Freedom and Farmersville decidedly against the Alle-Catt project.”
It’s unclear what the elimination of as many as 46 turbines would have not only on leaseholder payments, but to counties, towns, fire districts and school districts.
Invenergy has said there would be an annual investment of $7 million to $9 million in the three-county region, including lease payments, jobs, host-community payments and jobs to maintain the project.
Responding to a request to comment, Miller, Invenergy vice president for renewable development, said. There is no change to the Alle-Catt project as it is proposed in the Article 10 application. The project will be built to have a 340 megawatt generating capability.”
He said, “More than a decade of progress in a rapidly evolving industry has led to innovations in turbine efficiency that allows us to build turbines that can produce more power at a lower cost. Depending on the generating capacity of the selected turbine model for the project, the project will require up to 117 turbines. Wind turbine selection will depend on several factors, and it will not be made until after the schedule completion of the Article 10 environmental review in May 2020.”
Miller said, “The selected wind turbines will not be taller than what is proposed in the Article 10 application, nor will the turbines produce more noise than what is analyzed in the application.”
He explained that “Alle-Catt Wind’s economic benefits of $9.1 million in annual, new revenue to host communities are based on the 340 megawatt capacity of the project, and as such will remain the same regardless of how many turbines are built to achieve the 340 megawatts.”
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