The New York Siting Board approved a 100-megawatt wind energy project in Chenango County, clearing the way for Northland Power Inc. to install up to 25 wind turbines in the Town of Guilford.
“I think the state has a pretty good approval process and that they really investigate everything pretty thoroughly,” Town of Guilford Supervisor George Seneck said. “I’ve looked at other projects and I think the siting board does a lot of investigation and listens to a lot of different people.”
The approval of the project Thursday was a culmination of three years of comments from regulators, town and county officials, landowners and community organizations to maximize clean energy production and minimize or avoid impacts on the environment and community, according to Chris Stanton, lead project developer.
Specific financial numbers on the project still need to be ironed out and will be finalized in the coming months.
“At this point in time, I believe there will be a benefit to the town. Those details still need to be worked out,” Seneck said. “Hopefully, it will generate some revenue that will be put into our roadways, equipment and property taxes.”
Seneck said the COVID-19 pandemic has been a factor in delaying the financial arrangements, including the PILOT agreement and the host community agreement.
Northland, which bought the High Bridge Wind project from Calpine Corporation last spring, plans to construct the 650-foot towers on approximately 4,000 acres of privately leased or purchased land.
The siting board stated that the 100-megawatt project will produce enough electricity to power 25,000 average-sized homes.
The proposal was met with some pushback in an October 2020 public hearing, with some residents saying the project would have negative impacts, including but not limited to environmental, visual, infrasound and shadow flicker. An organized group lobbied the board to reject the proposal, claiming the project would impair property values and will have long-term health impacts on residents.
“I think the town has tried to do a very thorough job on our end and research,” Seneck said. “It’s been fortunate because we’ve had a very involved town board. We’ve had different board members, including myself, that have toured other wind farms. We met virtually with local government officials, reviewed thousands of pages of documents and we looked at different examples of wind power laws.”
According to Northland Power, the project is expected to create nearly 250 manufacturing, supply and construction jobs that will pay $17.7 million in wages, as well as create additional opportunities for local construction and supply vendors.
Northland said previously it planned on beginning tree clearing in the spring and expects to finish the project in the third quarter of 2022. That target date is still expected to be on track.
The developer estimates the economic value of the construction to be $49.7 million statewide and $5.1 million countywide. It also says the operation and maintenance could bring in $4.5 million to the state and $2.3 million to the county.
In late September of 2019, the Town of Guilford cleared the way for the wind project as trustees unanimously approved a local law regulating the construction and operation of the installation.
The Chenango County project was approved about a year after a wind farm was given the final OK in eastern Broome County. The Bluestone Wind Farm project was approved in December of 2019, and the 27-tower project includes four turbines in the Town of Windsor and 23 in the Town of Sanford, measuring 670 feet from base to blade tip.
Despite receiving strong opposition from residents, the project was approved and tree clearing began earlier this year.