FREEDOM — A crowd of 50 to 60 people turned out for public hearing in the town of Freedom to sound off on the proposed 107-turbine Alle-Catt Wind Farm project at Monday’s meeting.
Town Supervisor Randy Lester told the group of residents in the town highway department building that most of the 585-feet tall wind turbines would be built on hills or in cornfields in the community, and not close to residences.
In addition, Lester noted the wind turbines would have to be at least 1,200 feet from the nearest residences.
Invenergy, a Chicago-based company that develops, builds, owns and operates power generation projects in North America, Latin America and Europe, began considering the large-scale Alle-Catt Wind Farm in the towns of Farmersville, Freedom, Rushford and Centerville last year. Four representatives of the company attended the hearing, with Eric Miller, director of renewable development, serving as spokesman.
During his comments, Lester read a recent proclamation from Gov. Andrew Cuomo that stated New York state has adopted a clean energy standard requiring 50 percent of all electricity in the state would come from renewable energy such as solar and wind by 2030.
“New York state has made the largest single commitment of renewable energy by a state in U.S. history,” Lester said. He further noted that all wind turbine laws created by local governments must be reviewed and approved by the state.
“There are going to be (additional) hearings as there was in Delevan last week, the first one to kick-off,” Lester said of the local Alle-Catt hearings. “I’m sure there will be monthly meetings and things going on as we move closer and closer to construction.”
Comments from the audience included questions from a man who asked what the required distance is from a wind turbine to a residence, and if it would be audible.
Miller said the sound from the machines would be 45 decibels at the site of the turbine which would be buffered by the distance from residences.
A resident named Tracey Wood said she wasn’t against alternative energy, but was against the board’s “lack of respect and disregard for the health and safety of the entire town of Freedom, instead of for Invenergy.”
Wood asked the board to require Invenergy to provide property value guarantees to all property owners in the communities should their values decrease from the construction of the wind farm.
“In closing, the officials in the town of Freedom have been elected to govern and protect the entire town of Freedom, not merely the 23 leaseholders” who would lease land to the company, Wood said. “That’s leaves 2,382 residents.”
Another woman, Marsha North, said her friends in Eagle and Sheldon, where wind farms now exist, have had interference with their television and cell phone reception from the wind turbines, and have been bothered by the noise and flickering created by the machines. She said 10 turbines in Wethersfield, which are 18 years old, have just four of the machines operational.
“I went up there and there was oil dripping out of them,” she claimed. “Turbines may be quiet when they’re new, but later on down the road, mechanical structures deteriorate. How will the noise be adjusted in the future?”
Another resident, Stephanie Milks, told the audience she had retained an attorney to represent a citizens’ group called “Freedom United” which is joining with another group “Farmersville United” in opposition to the proposed wind farm. She said the groups will be looking after the rights of the residents and their properties and will be available to help others with concerns.
A construction worker who had built wind turbine farms in the past advised the residents and board to question all aspects of the wind farm, should it be approved.
“I will say this, with big businesses like this, it’s not in their best interest to build things that are faulty or bad for you,” the man said. “I think the board should do its due diligence when negotiating a contract … to give you assurance things will be done right, safe, and you get what you’re due.”
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)