Apex talks turbines in Barre

Photos by Tom Rivers: Taylor Quarles, development manager for Apex, speaks with local dairy farmer Richard Miller about the Apex proposed project for the Town of Barre.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2017 at 10:48 am

BARRE – Apex Clean Energy held the first of two public meetings on Wednesday about its proposed project in Barre. The Barre Town Hall was crowded as residents asked questions and looked for more information on the project.

Apex is in the public outreach phase for “Heritage Wind.” It hasn’t submitted a preliminary scoping statement for the project. After the PSS is submitted, the community and state agencies can comment on the document and Apex may have to provide more detailed information.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Apex Clean Energy handed out pens that resembled windmills.

Residents also will have opportunities to comment on a final application if Apex moves to that phase.

Apex wants to build a 200-megawatt project in Barre with about 70 turbines. The town ordinance limits the height of turbines to 500 feet from the top tip of the blade.

Apex is considering turbines throughout the town except for a 2-mile buffer around the Pine Hill Airport. Ben Yazman, project manager for Apex, said the company has leases for 2,500 acres and wants to sign up more land. He is pleased with the reception from residents and landowners.

“The town has been very hospitable,” Yazman said. “The farmers see it as a drought-resistant crop.”

Albert Davis, a retired dairy who lives on Maple Avenue, attended the meeting Wednesday and said he supports the project. Davis said his sister lives in Texas amidst a wind farm.

“She doesn’t have an issue with them,” Davis said.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

Barre residents Mark Farone, left, and Mike Van Lieshout discuss the project.

He lives close to the 2-mile buffer with Pine Hill and hasn’t been approached to lease land. Davis said the project would reduce town taxes and provide revenue for many landowners.

“I think it would be a good thing,” Davis said. “Barre has nothing but high taxes.”

Town Supervisor Mark Chamberlain said most residents tell him they support the project, but he has heard from some people who oppose it in Barre.

Joe Grabowski is one of the residents who opposes the turbines. Grabowski lives on Culver Road. He said he wouldn’t receive any lease payments for having turbines near his property.

“If I have to look at it 365 days, I should be compensated,” Grabowski said.

He also worries Apex will site the turbines on “Grade A farmland.” The company, if it builds in Barre, shouldn’t pick prime farmland, he said.

Grabowski said he’s heard from several residents against the project. He thinks it’s 50-50 for those in favor or against it.

“The farmers want it because they have the land,” Grabowski said.

Apex is planning another open house from 2 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Heritage Wind office at 49 N. Main St. in Albion. There will also be a public hearing on the application of the meteorological tower at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8 in the Barre Town Hall.

Apex wants to put up three met towers, at the corner of Culver and Thorp roads, on Oak Orchard Road (Old 98), and on Route 31A across from Keeler Construction. Those towers will gather information on wind strength and consistency.

Apex has been pushing another project in Yates and Somerset, but has encountered strong resistance from Save Ontario Shores, a citizens group. The Yates and Somerset town boards, and county legislatures in Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties have also opposed that project along the lake. Those officials have been critical of the Article 10 process, which gives a state-appointed siting board the final say on the project, rather than the local community.

Pam Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores, attended the Barre meeting and urged residents to research Apex and the wind industry.

“Our goal is education,” Atwater said. “There should be information that isn’t just coming from a corporation. I think it’s important for people to know what they’re getting themselves in for.”

For more on Heritage Wind, click here.

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