MEDINA – Two large-scale wind turbine projects in Orleans County are both on target for construction in 2020, Apex Clean Energy officials told supporters this week.
The company had a dinner for 170 people at The Gallagher, a barn that is an events center in Medina.
“Look at the strength of community in this room for people in Orleans County who support wind energy in Orleans County,” Taylor Quarles, project manager for Lighthouse Wind, told the group.
The company has been working on Lighthouse Wind in Yates and Somerset for several years. Apex expects it will submit its application to a state siting board this winter.
The application will be subject to public hearings. Quarles said that process could take a year with construction of 50-60 turbines expected to start in 2020.
The 50-60 turbines are down from the 70 that were originally proposed for the project, which has met strong resistance from many community members who say the 600-foot-plus turbines are “too big, too close” in the rural community.
The turbines are mainly proposed for north of the village of Lyndonville, going west about 12 miles into Somerset.
Apex last year also announced it was working on a project in Barre called Heritage Wind. That project hasn’t met much opposition.
Ben Yazman, project developer for Apex, said the company has 7,500 acres under lease with 50 landowners in Barre.
The company will be working on the preliminary scoping document this fall to identify concerns with the project, and will be working on its responses.
He said the project could start construction in 2020. The project could generate $1.6 million in tax revenues annually for the Barre community, Apex said.
Both projects have been years in the making.
“A project becomes a reality through hundreds even thousands of conversations,” Quarles said.
He thanked many of the supporters for talking with their neighbors and some detractors about the projects.
Apex said the crowd of 170 people at the dinner on Tuesday is representative of the strong community support for the projects in Orleans County.
There are 25 wind farms in New York, with several in Wyoming County. Quarles and Yazman have encouraged people to see the turbines in Wyoming County, and talk to the residents and town officials there.
“Their success is a credit to our industry,” Yazman said. “They’re our best advertisers, so to speak.”
Howard Pierce of Yates is a vocal supporter for the Lighthouse project. He helped organize a tour on May 5 to Sheldon, Wyoming County.
Sheldon town officials shared how their wind energy project has had a dramatic effect in eliminating town taxes, bringing in $474,000 in annual revenue for the Town of Sheldon, Pierce said.
The project has been an economic boost for the rural town, Pierce told the crowd at the dinner.
“You go by the convenience stores and they are busy,” he said.
In Wyoming County, the turbines peak at about 400 feet, about 200 feet shorter than the ones proposed for the Lighthouse project.
Apex officials were asked about the claim by some elected officials, including Congressman Chris Collins and State Sen. Rob Ortt, that the Lighthouse turbines would jeopardize the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls.
Collins has introduced the “Protection of Military Airfields from Wind Turbine Encroachment Act” in an effort to ensure that any new wind turbines located within a 40-mile radius of a military installation will be ineligible for renewable energy tax credits.
Quarles said the base itself hasn’t objected to Lighthouse Wind. The base is transitioning to a new mission with refueler planes over 10,000 feet in the air.
He said many military bases in the United States have large-scale turbines closer than the ones proposed for Lighthouse Wind, which are 25 miles from the base at the far western end of the project in Somerset.
The Yates Town Board meets this evening for a public hearing at 7 p.m. at Town Hall for a proposed meteorological tower for Apex.