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No wind turbines on Cape Wycoff - Otsego 2000 to call for state-wide moratorium on wind farm siting

Reunion's announcement comes just ahead of a call for a state-wide moratorium on siting wind turbines from Otsego 2000, an environmental advocacy organization based in Cooperstown.

CHERRY VALLEY - Reunion Power has decided to pull the plug on its efforts to development a wind farm on the Cape Wycoff ridge in Cherry Valley.

The company will continue to work toward siting as many as two dozen wind turbines on East Hill, however.

"After careful review and many discussions with community residents, we decided not to pursue development of the Cape Wycoff ridge," said David Little, Project Manager for Reunion in a statement released last week. "The fundamentals for a favorable project on the East Hill are all there, including wind that can knock you over and excellent transportation and transmission access. The East Hill is truly unique with regards to its wind and project characteristics."

Little said this week that the decision was "very permanent" and that they "will not pursue it."

He added that it is not a phased approach to development of wind energy in the town.

Little explained the two areas had always been viewed by the company as two different projects; each to be evaluated on their own merits.

"Even though the sites are only seven miles apart, they are very different," he said.

East Hill is one of the best sites they have seen with some of the top wind resources... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
CHERRY VALLEY - Reunion Power has decided to pull the plug on its efforts to development a wind farm on the Cape Wycoff ridge in Cherry Valley.

The company will continue to work toward siting as many as two dozen wind turbines on East Hill, however.

"After careful review and many discussions with community residents, we decided not to pursue development of the Cape Wycoff ridge," said David Little, Project Manager for Reunion in a statement released last week. "The fundamentals for a favorable project on the East Hill are all there, including wind that can knock you over and excellent transportation and transmission access. The East Hill is truly unique with regards to its wind and project characteristics."

Little said this week that the decision was "very permanent" and that they "will not pursue it."

He added that it is not a phased approach to development of wind energy in the town.

Little explained the two areas had always been viewed by the company as two different projects; each to be evaluated on their own merits.

"Even though the sites are only seven miles apart, they are very different," he said.

East Hill is one of the best sites they have seen with some of the top wind resources in the state. It also has a paved road for access which is not the case on Cape Wycoff where they would have to make a much larger investment in infrastructure. Turbines could be installed on East Hill with what he described as "minimal disturbance."

Reunion Power has had a meteorological tower on East Hill collecting wind data since last January. They did not erect a tower on the Cape Wycoff site, but depended on wind maps and some information collected by Global Winds Harvest before they sold their interest in the Cherry Valley project to Reunion.

"It [the wind] is not as robust as East Hill. It's good wind, but it's not East Hill," he said.

Little said the decision came as result of the company doing its due diligence before committing to the site.

As part of the process, Little said they talked to many people, organizations and at least one state agency about the Cape Wycoff area and were met with concerns about the viewshed and the historic landscape around Cherry Valley and Otsego Lake.

The Cape Wycoff area is in the Lindsay Patent which is list on the National Register of Historic Places and the State Historic Preservation Office and Preservation League of New York both had concerns about the impact of the project.

"We're listening to people in the community," he said, adding that "honestly, there will be views of East Hill from other important places. In no way do I want to say one view is more important than another."

"Mr. Little claims to have had many discussions with community residents, but aside from a single lessor, he has not solicited the opinion of any of the permanent residents of East Hill. They are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the project, said Andy Minnig, an East Hill resident and founding member of the Advocates for Cherry Valley which opposes the wind power project. "He also claims that East Hill has excellent transmission and transportation access. In fact they possess neither. If he plans to come up County Route 50, he will require the road to be straightened, widened and regraded.

Transmission access will require the establishment of new 'rights of way' and possibly a new sub-station. These necessities raise the spectre of 'eminent domain."'

Little said abandoning Cape Wycoff was simply a "sound business decision" that had to do with best allocating the company's time and resources.

They decided, he said, to put their efforts behind East Hill because all of the sites attributes were so good.

But it is likely that any proposal to locate the 400-foot turbines on Cape Wycoff would have drawn widespread attention and vigorous opposition - something that was hinted at in a comment from Mary Beth Flint, President of Otsego Neighbors for a Clean Environment, a clean energy advocacy group based in Cherry Valley that was included as part of Reunion's statement issued last week.

"We applaud and support Reunion's decision to focus on the East Hill. Cape Wykoff's inclusion in the National Registry of Historic Places and view impacts to Otsego Lake down to Cooperstown would have posed problems for the community." Flint said.

Any site plan for turbines on Cape Wycoff would have included the State Historic Preservation Office as an involved agency. As part of the process, the local planning board would need to solicit comment from the agency regarding the plan and its potential impact.

And Reunion's announcement comes just ahead of a call for a state-wide moratorium on siting wind turbines from Otsego 2000, an environmental advocacy organization based in Cooperstown.

Otsego 2000's executive director Martha Frey said Tuesday that the group plans to shortly call for a halt on additional wind farms until state-wide siting guidelines can be established that take into account the impacts on historic, cultural, scenic and environmental resources.

"It seems like a prudent thing to stop and evaluate project state-wide," she said. "I think what we're trying to say is, there's no broad look at wind farms statewide and they will affect the state."

Currently the siting process is handled on a local level and there can be widely varying levels of intensity in the reviews, she said. Statewide guidelines would insure each project is held to the same standards.

In regard to Reunion's decision about Cape Wycoff specifically, Frey said, "I think the site posed significant problems being located entirely in the Lindsay Patent Historic District. The visual impact would have been difficult or impossible to mitigate."

Minnig said the call for a moratorium was "splendid news."
"It is everything we hoped the most important environmental advocacy group in Otsego County could do," he said.

This will be hard for Reunion Power to contend with, Minning said.

Reunion will be faced with a serious dilemma since they have already indicated it was a sensitivity to concerns about the impacts to an historic landscape that caused them to decide to no longer include Cape Wycoff in their plans.

"I feel that this also vindicates the arguments the Cherry Valley Advocates have been making for the last three years," he said.

Despite opposition to the project, Reunion Power remains optimistic.

"I believe we have strong local support for the project," Little said.

And he expects that support to grow as people learn more about the project and the benefits to the town.

"We haven't brought forth the package of benefits for the town," he said.

One of those benefits will be a payment in lieu of taxes. Little did not say what they would propose to the town, but did indicate a precedent had already been set in the state. In the town of Fenner, the developer and local officials agreed to a payment of $5,000 per year per megawatt of generating capacity.

According to Little, the turbines they plan to propose for East Hill would have a generating capacity of three megawatts apiece. Using Fenner as an example, the 24 turbines talked about for East Hill would generate more than $350,000 in annual income for the town.

Little was careful to say that may not be the amount negotiated by the company and town, but is an indication of the significant benefits the town will reap.

The East Hill Wind Farm, located approximately three miles east of the Village of Cherry Valley, is still in the preliminary engineering phase which must be completed before a site plan for its development is submitted to the town planning board.

"We want to be precise and want to have answers. We're making sure we have everything right," Little said.

He said submission of the site plan will definitely be within six months and probably sooner.

Source: http://www.coopercrier.com/...

DEC 22 2005
http://www.windaction.org/posts/795-no-wind-turbines-on-cape-wycoff-otsego-2000-to-call-for-state-wide-moratorium-on-wind-farm-siting
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