“Opposition ranges from concerns about the effects of turbine noise on neighbors, degradation of the quality of life in the area where turbines will be sited, conflicts of interest on the part of elected town officials regarding the project, destruction of forest areas by construction and harm to bats and birds because of the blades.” (“Public Hearings Tuesday on Alle-Catt Wind Farm,” Olean Times Herald, June 7, 2019)
A article this week in the Olean Times Herald is an interesting look at what is going on with industrial wind at the grassroots. Jim Eckstrom reports from western New York where Chicago-based Invenergy proposes to erect up to one hundred 600-foot tall turbines in three western New York counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Wyoming.
After announcing the meeting specifics, Eckstrom lays out the issues in a way that indicates, clearly, that this is a debate that is joined.
The one-year public comment period on the project got underway in May when the state’s board siting accepted the project developer’s application as complete. The proposed project includes more than 100 wind turbines — 600 feet in height — scattered across 20,000 acres in four towns in northern Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. The project would stretch into Arcade in Wyoming County.
The controversial Alle-Catt Wind Farm is being developed by Invenergy, a large international alternative energy company with several other wind turbine projects in New York state.
Two grassroots citizens groups, Farmersville United and Freedom United, formed to at the minimum seek greater setbacks for the wind turbines as the town governments scrambled to raise the height limit to 600 feet from blade tip to the ground.
The Freedom Town Board approved a new wind law, 3-2, but the vote is being challenged in state Supreme Court. Farmersville’s Town Board hit a roadblock when the Cattaraugus County Planning Board denied its local law largely due to the height of the wind turbines.
The towns of Rushford and Centerville in Allegany County and Arcade in Wyoming County approved new laws requested by Invenergy.
The company has touted the $7 million in annual payments to local governments and school districts as well as landowners leasing property for wind turbines or other infrastructure. Invenergy also points to up to 200 construction jobs and up to 13 jobs to maintain the wind farm.
Alle-Catt Wind Farm said last month it would conduct a months-long community outreach effort to continue to raise awareness of the economic benefits of New York-made renewable energy.
“The Alle-Catt Wind Farm will serve as a major economic driver for Western New York communities while delivering clean, locally-made energy to power the state’s future,” Valessa Souter-Kline, project development manager for Invenergy, said after the state accepted the firm’s complete application in May.
Invenergy says the 340-megawatt project will generate enough energy to power 134,000 homes annually and help meet New York’s growing electricity demands.
The Article 10 application is available on the project website at www.alle-catt.com and hard copies are available at the Arcade Town Hall, Arcade Free Library, Centerville Town Hall, Farmersville Town Hall, Freedom Town Hall, Rushford Town Hall, Rushford Free Library and Machias Town Hall.
Attorney Ginger Schroder of Farmersville, a lead opponent of the project, said last month that the siting board simply decided that Invenergy’s application “has complied with the minimum information requirements for applications. However, the substance of the application and its conclusions have not been reviewed.”
She said opponents of the plan, led by members of Farmersville United and Freedom United, have consulted experts and they plan to explore deficiencies in Invenergy’s application.
Opposition ranges from concerns about the effects of turbine noise on neighbors, degradation of the quality of life in the area where turbines will be sited, conflicts of interest on the part of elected town officials regarding the project, destruction of forest areas by construction and harm to bats and birds because of the blades.
Schroder argues that the project’s power contribution to the state’s energy needs would be minimal — and the financial justification nonexistent without government subsidies that prop up renewable energy development.
Another attorney representing residents, Gary Abraham said last month, “The project is being modeled to achieve a 50-decibel sound limit at people’s homes. That is something the (state Department of Environmental Conservation) would classify as intolerable given the quiet background noise level in this area.”