GUILFORD – At a town meeting on Wednesday night, local residents of Guilford came to the town hall to discuss potential impacts of a wind turbine project with town officials and a company representative.
At the meeting officials heard concerns about the effects the turbines would have on wildlife, human health, and local aesthetics. Although other individuals supported the project stating that it would bring notoriety, economic development, and a renewable energy source to the town.
According to the Calpine Corporation, the project is called “High Bridge Wind Farm.” The farm would be a 100 megawatt, utility-scale energy project that is proposed for eastern Chenango County in the Town of Guilford.
In a statement, Calpine said they would build between 25-30 wind turbines in the Town of Guilford. They added that each turbine requires 18 acres of land for the area containing its foundation and the turbines stand at approximately 650 feet tall, or more than 13 times the size of the Chenango County Courthouse.
Officials took no action related to the wind project at the meeting, but did discuss a comprehensive plan update that would include changes to regulate forms of renewable energy, with the town attorney present.
Town of Guilford Supervisor George Seneck read from the plan, which called for additional information a variety of topics including community setbacks, noise, vibration, and safety features, impacts on scenic views, wildlife impacts, especially birds and bats near wind facilities, existing communication systems that could be effected, and information on chemical use that may be associated with the facility, if any, and any spill response.
When describing certain expectations from the plan, such as a requirement that wind turbines won't be placed within approximately 975 feet of a non-participating individual's property line, Calpine Corporation Development Director Alec Jarvis said restrictions like that would have a significant impact on the success of the project.
Jarvis said with those property restrictions, the company would only be able to build four of the 20-plus proposed turbines.
Though the proposed turbines will be some of the tallest in New York State, Calpine Company officials ask Guilford officials to consider letting the company build larger ones, which had been recently developed with new technology.
A currently proposed requirement, limits wind turbines to 675 feet in height.
"We have a model turbine that is 676 feet tall, is there any way we can account for that in the comprehensive plan?" asked Jarvis.
Seneck responded, "Dig a foot deeper hole when you install the turbine."
He also addressed concerns that information was being purposefully withheld by the company, stating the organization is doing its best to provide the citizens of Guilford with the information as it can.
He said Calpine is discussing putting an office in the area and holding a third education seminar, but this one would have the information from its article 10 application.
When asked about what the Town of Guilford stands to lose if this project falls through, Seneck said besides the cost of attorney and other research associated fees, he was unsure at this point because all of the information about the project is still being collected.
He said he wants to keep local residents as informed as possible, and will continue to research comments made by residents throughout the meeting.