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Wind farm potential grows

BATH | The potential for the wind industry in Steuben County is booming, with federal tax credits fueling plans for more than 250 skyscraper-sized wind turbines along the rural hillsides.

The projects are also a priority with Gov. George Pataki, who pledged to have 25 percent of the state electrical power supplied by renewable sources by 2013. Under his direction in 2003, the state has implemented a Renew-able Portfolio Standard program designed to develop “green energy” resources in the state.

According to James Sherron, executive director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, the county has probably reached its limit, with six projects now under various stages of development.

“I think we've seen all we will see,” Sherron said, pointing to a map with ideal wind patterns located thickly along the borders of the county.

In Steuben, a single plan five years ago for 50 turbines in Prattsburgh has grown dramatically.

Since then, developments have been proposed in Hornby to the east, Hartsville, Hornellsville, and Howard to the west, and Cohocton to the north. In Prattsburgh, two developers are now vying for control of what is essentially one site in northwest Steuben County.

The projects are in different stages of development, with plans in western Steuben in the preliminary stages, most conducting environmental studies, and one working toward a review of... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The projects are also a priority with Gov. George Pataki, who pledged to have 25 percent of the state electrical power supplied by renewable sources by 2013. Under his direction in 2003, the state has implemented a Renew-able Portfolio Standard program designed to develop “green energy” resources in the state.

According to James Sherron, executive director of the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, the county has probably reached its limit, with six projects now under various stages of development.

“I think we've seen all we will see,” Sherron said, pointing to a map with ideal wind patterns located thickly along the borders of the county.

In Steuben, a single plan five years ago for 50 turbines in Prattsburgh has grown dramatically.

Since then, developments have been proposed in Hornby to the east, Hartsville, Hornellsville, and Howard to the west, and Cohocton to the north. In Prattsburgh, two developers are now vying for control of what is essentially one site in northwest Steuben County.

The projects are in different stages of development, with plans in western Steuben in the preliminary stages, most conducting environmental studies, and one working toward a review of final sites, Sherron said.

But with federal tax credits in store for the swift, it is likely one site or more will be under construction within a year. The federal credit reduces project costs by 33 percent for wind farms set up by 2008.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority spokesman Tom Collins said there are no state incentives for wind projects now, but added that the state is looking to buy the federal credit from developers.

Currently developers could sell their “clean energy#” credits to another provider not supplying renewable energy, Collins said.

“That's kind of working against what we#'re about,” he said.

Sherron said SCIDA's primary role in local wind energy development is deciding whether to approve local tax relief on the projects. It also oversees the required environmental studies for four of the projects, at the request of the state or town government, he said.

Most recently, the state Department of Environmen-tal Conservation ordered SCIDA to oversee an environmental study by the second of two rival projects in Prattsburgh, a 50-turbine project proposed by WindFarm Prattsburgh/Glo-bal Winds.

SCIDA also oversees the environmental review of the EcoGen project in Prattsburgh and the ClipperWind project in Hornby. It was recently approached by Airtricity for a combined project in Harts-ville and Hornellsville.

During the past four years, the agency has been strongly criticized by wind farm opponents for its role in wind energy development.

“We have only stepped in because a town has asked us to, or we were told to,” Sherron said. “And as far as zoning goes, the town can stop it if they want to. They're in control of their own destiny.”

Towns without zoning, such as Prattsburgh or Hartsville, can enact moratoriums to set up comprehensive plans or consider setting up zoning regulations, Sherron said.

The Town of Italy, in Yates County, enacted a moratorium last year which could ultimately prevent development by restricting the height of structures.

Other towns such as Hornby and Cohocton have zoning regulations that restrict building height. Both towns are in the process of changing those restrictions to allow the mammoth turbines.

Sherron also admitted any taxing agent - municipality, school district, or county - could probably prevent wind turbine development within its borders simply by taxing the project at full value.

So far the projects - largely new to inland New York - have generated more heat than electricity.

Alarmed residents charge the turbines will endanger the people, wildlife and environment in the targeted region, and are not a viable, significant source of electricity.

Supporters argue the potential dangers of the projects are exaggerated, balanced against an infusion of revenues to an impoverished county and the importance of developing alternatives to foreign oil and fossil fuels.

According to Ken Klapp, spokesman for the New York Independent Systems Oper-ator, the estimated 3,000 kilowatts to be generated by turbines in Steuben County would account for 1 percent of electricity use during a peak period.

“On the other hand, you have to weigh that against the cost of other sources of power,” Klapp said.

Source: http://www.the-leader.com/a...

FEB 19 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1381-wind-farm-potential-grows
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