PARISHVILLE — The firm hoping to build a wind tower farm in St. Lawrence County has pulled out of Parishville and will now only seek to build turbines in Hopkinton.
“Based on Avangrid Renewables’ continuing project development work for the proposed North Ridge Wind Farm, we have recently updated the wind turbine layout so that it would be located entirely within the Town of Hopkinton,” according to Paul Copleman, Communications Manager for Avangrid Renewables.
“While the project would still provide up to 100 MW of clean renewable energy capacity, larger turbine capacity has enabled us to reduce the number of turbines originally proposed within Hopkinton, thereby reducing the potential environmental impacts,” Copleman said.
“Nothing surprises me any more,” Parishville Town Supervisor Rodney Votra said, when asked about Avangrid pulling out of Parishville.
Votra said he was only aware that the wind company does not have plans to build in his town because he gets email alerts from a government site that posts update about the proposed farm.
Less Towers, More Money in Hopkinton
“Our decision to not develop in the Town of Parishville reflects careful consideration of key factors during the design optimization process as we constantly pursue the smallest possible project footprint,” Copleman said. “The new layout factors our engineering and environmental studies to date, the energy grid connection, as well as evolving turbine technology. This decision also reflects our interactions with landowners, various local and regional stakeholders, and a desire to develop a viable project that is welcomed by the community."
As part of the changes, the developers are now planned to build less towers overall.
“While the project would still provide up to 100 MW of clean renewable energy capacity, larger turbine capacity has enabled us to reduce the number of turbines originally proposed within Hopkinton, thereby reducing the potential environmental impacts,” he said.
What was once envisioned as a potential 40-turbine project, with potentially 30 turbines in Hopkinton, can now be built entirely with up to 27 turbines in Hopkinton only, without changing the overall tip height of the turbines, Copleman said.
This update would deliver the anticipated approximately $38 million in revenue over 30 years solely to the Town of Hopkinton, he said.
“With this new revenue stream, the community would realize more opportunities to create jobs, improve infrastructure, and support local business growth,” Copleman said.
Company officials acknowledged how the towers have divided the communities.
“We will continue to listen and work with neighbors, community members and local officials who have questions or concerns regarding the proposed project, and make sure we share accurate information. While we are disappointed that Parishville will no longer be part of the wind farm, we are appreciative of all the support we received from the Parishville community.”
Supervisor Not Shocked
“Typical fashion of Avangrid — no one knows anything until they are ready to tell us,” he said.
Votra said he had no idea the company was even considering not building towers in Parishville. He said contact with company officials was frequent early on but got less and less as time went on.
Votra said he thinks the company lost interest due to Parishville’ strong stance of wanting full tax value instead of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) and a more restrictive wind law than what developers may have wanted to be in place.
“I am not disappointed,” Votra said.
Wind laws in Parishville call for setbacks of towers to be five times the height of the wind tower from the property line of a non-participating landowner. If towers are 500 feet high, as projected, setbacks would be 2,500 feet. That distance would apply to the foundation of the residence of a participating landowner.
The local law for sound decibels was set to be at 45 decibels or below from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and 35 decibels from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. from a participating landowners residence.
The law was passed June 22, 2017.
He was also not sold that the wind controversy is over for Parishville residents. “I remain skeptical,” he said.
Votra says there are still signed leases that could potentially be sold to another wind developer by Avangrid.
Votra plans to stay involved in the wind farm discussions so he can keep residents updated. “Parishville is right next to Hopkinton and it will effect the Parishville-Hopkinton school district, he said”