Planning board Oks wind farm expansion

Staff writer

With the approval by the county planning commission to allow expansion of Windborne Energy’s planned wind farm between Aulne, Peabody, and Florence, there was opposition Thursday.

Those in opposition still voiced their opinion against the wind farm as a whole.

“Most of my neighbors do not want this tax exempt eyesore,” Tom Britton read from a prepared statement. “It will devalue our property and raise everyone’s electric bill.”

Rex Savage of Windborne Energy said while sometimes that is the perception associated with wind farms, it usually does not happen. He said he had a list of approximately 20 studies from organizations like the National Association of Realtors with hundreds of thousands of statistics regarding wind farms.

“There were only two places in upstate New York where there might have been an effect on property value,” he said.

While the expansion of the turbines will ultimately raise the cost of construction, it should raise the production of the turbines “remarkably,” according to Savage.

Savage said his group has done 17 evaluations since June, and there will be a few more to come.

“It is amazing how this has changed month to month,” he said. “When we get around to June we’ll have a full year’s data to say spacing pattern x-y-z is the max we can get out of this situation.”

The expansion will not include any additional turbines, remaining at 118 total with a maximum capacity of 200 megawatts. Savage said only one new lease had been added due to expansion.

He explained at the meeting that he would not avoid the fact that some would not like the wind farm, but a greater majority in the community had shown support.

USD 408 board member Chris Sprowls expressed support, saying the community needs the wind farm.

“We’re doing it because we believe it’s a good thing for the county,” Savage said. “We’re trying to make a living and we’re not apologizing for it.”

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