Barre wind energy ordinance strikes right balance in allowing turbines, protecting residents

Posted 27 September 2020 at 9:04 am


I am writing in response to Kerri Richardson’s letter from September 20. I was surprised by the number of factual errors and misleading statements it contained, especially coming from a member of our Town Board who has been involved in the process of reviewing these wind law changes.

Councilwoman Richardson states that the setback distance remains at 1.5 times tip height from all residential and commercial structures, and that this setback does not apply to property lines. Both of these claims are false.

I listened to all of the Town Board meetings and workshops regarding the ordinance changes and the draft ordinance clearly establishes a minimum setback of 2 times tip height (over a quarter mile) from all residential and commercial structures and 1.5 times tip height from the property lines of those not participating in the project.

Know Your Facts USA graciously posts all the Town Board meeting recordings on their Facebook page if you would like to listen for yourself. I am disappointed that one of my town councilmembers either didn’t bother to read the ordinance or is purposefully misrepresenting the proposed law changes.

Councilwoman Richardson also claimed, “The noise regulations do not meet the suggested standards of the New York State Department of Health in its letter to the Siting Board on March 2020.” The Department of Health and Siting Board have since approved multiple wind projects with the same sound standards as Barre’s proposed law.

Councilwoman Richardson suggests a “property value guarantee” as part of the wind ordinance. I don’t see this as necessary or practicable. There is no peer-reviewed, scientific study showing that property values are affected by wind projects. However, there are numerous studies that show wind turbines do not affect property values, such as the 2013 Study by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, which states, “The core results of our analysis consistently show no sizable statistically significant impact of wind turbines on nearby property values.” That study can be read by clicking here.

There are many factors that drive property values to fluctuate, such as age and condition of the home, the local economy, and even this pandemic. Homes are selling in Barre faster than I could ever remember, at or above asking price due to people wanting to get out of cities, all while we are considering a proposed wind project. It is absurd to think that wind turbines alone will be responsible for changing property values.

Councilwoman Richardson has stated that transparency is important, and I agree with her. I am hopeful that she will be more responsible and accurate with the information she presents in the future. I encourage you to attend the public hearing on Sept. 30th at 6:30 p.m. in the Barre Highway Garage and to support the wind ordinance changes that will allow Barre to receive the many benefits of hosting a wind project. I believe the new ordinance changes strike the right balance between protecting residents and allowing wind projects to be built in our town.

Charles Mathes