CENTERVILLE — Invenergy held another open house on the proposed $570 million Alle-Catt Wind Farm Wednesday in Centerville.
There were sometimes more Invenergy employees than people with questions at the Centerville Town Hall, where the open house was held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wind farm supporters — including lease holders — and opponents attended.
Invenergy had several large maps of the proposed locations of wind turbines with noise and flicker impacts. Some people located their homes and took cellphone photos of the maps.
Company employees spoke with people about their concerns and reviewed various maps with them. They focused on the more than $7 million in annual payments to counties, schools, towns, fire districts and host community fees, and the hundreds of temporary construction jobs and a dozen permanent maintenance jobs the project will create.
Opponents passed out literature highlighting the impact on residents of the planned 117 600-foot industrial turbines across five towns in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming counties.
Groups including Farmersville United, Freedom United and Centerville’s Concerned Citizens want more restrictive wind law provisions in the local laws. They had a handout calling for 3,000-foot setbacks, a 40dB sound level and 450-foot height limit. Members wore green T-shirts with “Too Big. Too Close” next to a graphic of a wind turbine.
One Alle-Catt supporter wore a bright green T-shirt with a similar wind turbine graphic with the blades forming a Y in the word Yes.
Invenergy spokesman Eric Miller said the open house was held because one last winter was not well attended due to very cold weather. Many residents still have questions about the wind farm and Invenergy wanted to answer them, he explained.
The maps are an easy way to show people where Alle-Catt plans to locate turbines.
Invenergy project manager Valessa Souter-Kline said with approval expected next Spring by the New York State Siting Board, the Alle-Catt project could get underway as early as the summer of 2020.
One Centerville farmer, Marv Covert, who owns 1,000 acres and has a wind lease with Invenergy, said he sees the wind farm “as a chance to keep this town going.”
He said, “We’re losing our farmers, including some to suicide.”
It will also man payments to the counties, schools, towns and fire districts in the municipalities in which the turbines are located.
“People are jealous that farmers are going to get some of this money,” said Covert, a fourth generation farmer who doesn’t think flicker or noise will be a problem with the turbines. “If you don’t like them, don’t look at them.”
What if the wind project falls through? “It would hurt, but we’d keep struggling,” Covert said.
A Salamanca native, Rene Vladutiu, who now lives in South Carolina and has a cottage in Farmersville, attended to see where the turbines would be in relation to her property.
“I know the pros and cons,” she said. “I have health-related concerns about the noise and the flicker. There is also evidence of significant sleep disturbance” associated with wind turbines. “I want it to stay nice and quiet and clean,” she said of her cottage visits.
An Erie County man, Dennis Galluzzo said he never would have purchased his property or built a retirement home on Brookside Road in Centerville if he had known there would be two wind turbines within 1,200 feet of his property.
Thomas Heim, who operates Windy Hills Campground in Centerville, said he stands to lose his $500,000 investment if people don’t want to camp near 600-foot wind turbines.
“They come up here to listen to the frogs at night” not wind turbines. He’s also concerned about the flicker from the spinning blades and the sun.
Gary Abraham and Ginger Schroder, attorneys representing the groups opposed to the setbacks, blade height and noise of the turbines, also attended.
Both attorneys expressed concern with recent actions by the Freedom Town Board approving a host community agreement and the Farmersville Town Board releasing another wind law. Both actions occurred Monday night.
An Alle-Catt supporter wearing a “Yes” T-shirt, Gerard Ellingson, said he attended because he “wanted to see what they are doing and check on the progress.”
A wind leaseholder, Covert said his home will be about 2,000 feet from a wind turbine. He didn’t think the wind turbines will be a problem.