Firm says Potsdam not being considered for wind farm project
By MATT LINDSEY
POTSDAM – The firm hoping to build 40 wind turbines in Parishville and Hopkinton says a letter it distributed recently to some St. Lawrence County residents incorrectly listed the Town of Potsdam as another possible location for a wind farm.
“The appearance of Potsdam in the letter was an honest mistake,” said Paul Copleman, spokesman for Avangrid, the developer of the proposed North Ridge Wind Farm between State Rts. 11B and 72 in Parishville and Hopkinton. But, Potsdam might be a possible transmission route to connect to the energy grid, Copleman said.Meanwhile, Potsdam town officials are gathering information about wind farm development in case a proposal is presented. Potsdam Town Code Enforcement Officer James Plumley says residents in all St. Lawrence County towns “have likely been approached” by wind turbine companies, but that the “town has not officially been approached.”
“This is all part of New York State’s Clean Energy Standard that mandates 50 percent renewable energy by 2030,” Plumley said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says that by 2030, the 50 percent renewable mandate from sources like wind and solar will be a critical component in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) and by 80 percent by 2050.
About 40 property owners in Parishville and Hopkinton have signed leases with Avangrid to allow windmills on their land.
Avangrid says it would probably ask the two towns, the Parishville-Hopkinton School District, and St. Lawrence County to allow the company to make payments in lieu of taxes, or PILOTs. If so, each of those entities will have to decide, one by one, if they will grant those tax breaks.
Wind Company Responds
The letter, which North Country This Week acquired, listed Potsdam as a destination for the wind towers, drawing the attention of residents.
The letter says, “The North Ridge Wind Project is in the early stages of development and is just beginning to reach out to landowners. Avangrid has erected a meteorologist test tower on NYS County Route 56, and is starting wind measurement studies in the area. In addition, Avangrid is beginning interconnection and environmental studies. My company, Reliable Land Services Inc., is working with Avangrid to reach out to area landowners to determine if they would be interested in possible participation in the project. Please contact me at your earliest convenience if you would be willing to discuss further.”
The letter is signed by Brandon Peaslee, land agent.
“I am not sure how it (the letter) came to be,” Copleman said. “Our plans don't incorporate any part of Potsdam.”
“If you look at our project website (https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/iberdrola-pdfs/pdf/North-Ridge-Figure...) we have presented a project area map that includes only Hopkinton and Parishville.
Copleman said that same map was shared in a project newsletter distributed by mail late last year. To view the letter visit https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/iberdrola-pdfs/pdf/Avangrid-North-Rid....
“If you look at what we've filed with the New York Department of Public Service as part of our Public Involvement Program Plan, or "PIP," (https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/iberdrola-pdfs/pdf/North-Ridge-PIP.pdf) the project area is described and depicted as being in Hopkinton and Parishville.
Laws Could Be Superseded
Plumley attended a seminar in Syracuse recently where a law firm made a presentation to town supervisors across the state. Plumley was there to represent the Town of Potsdam.
The law firm is looking to bring towns and municipalities together to create a larger group that can represent towns’ rights and interests.
Plumley said if the state determines local laws to be “unduly burdensome,” that they could be overruled. He said that state laws supersede local wind advisory laws. “It is in the interest of getting the 50 percent state objective done,” he said.
The state has lowered the level of production the wind towers can put out from 80 megawatts to 25, he said. “This would make it more do-able for wind energy companies to come into towns.”
For now, Plumley says the Town of Potsdam is collecting as much info as they can from newspaper articles and other sources.
‘We want to be pro-active and have a little say in this,” Plumley said. “I am neutral in this.”
Clean Energy Standard
In its initial phase, utilities and other energy suppliers will be required to procure and phase in new renewable power resources starting with 26.31 percent of the state's total electricity load in 2017 and grow to 30.54 percent of the statewide total in 2021, the release from Cuomo said. The Clean Energy Standard will cost less than $2 a month to the average residential customer’s bill.
"This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combatting climate change. Make no mistake, this is a very real threat that continues to grow by the day and I urge all other states to join us in this fight for our very future,"
Town and school officials in Parishville and Hopkinton have stated they are collecting as much information as possible, both for and against the wind towers.
When asked about how many turbines the project is aiming for, Copleman said, “it's too early to know what type of wind turbine model we might be using, but we've described the number as not to exceed 40.”