High Sheldon wind turbines have helped a community similar to Barre
I, too, attended the tour of the High Sheldon Wind Farm on March 29. I drove myself, paid for my own lunch, and listened intently to the various speakers through the entire presentation. I am not a leaseholder. My goal was to better understand accurate and first-hand information for myself and to be able to relay this information to concerned Barre residents who genuinely wish to understand the implications of having an industrial wind project in our township.
Driving home, I felt cautiously optimistic about the Heritage Wind Project. Having lived in Barre for 33 years, I have a serious concern for our economy. In light of other options that have been previously proposed (race track, dump), I believe the proposed Heritage Wind Project is superior in both environmental and economic aspects.
The following points support this:
• Much ground work was done ahead of time, including a long SEQR process and painting grid lines on the ground where windmills would be located.
• Pictures of roads in Sheldon were taken before and after from which the wind company repaved many miles of roads to repair damage and restore them to better than previous conditions.
• The wind company put $90,000 into a historical town building.
• Money to the town from the wind company went up at a rate of the consumer price index (2-3 1/2%) per year. They started at $11,000 per windmill per year to the landowner.
• The town has received over 10 million dollars in over 10 years. Sheldon has zero town debt and it has helped everyone have zero town taxes.
• During the building phase, the town benefitted with housing rentals and the supervisor said, the “bars and restaurants were packed,” helping the local economy.
• Their population of 2,200 is very similar to Barre. Their budget is $1.1 million.
• Windmills were approximately 400 feet tall with an 800 foot setback.
• They negotiated a Host Community Agreement so that the town received the majority of the money.
• Their fire tax went from .96/$1,000 to .26/$1,000.
• Reassessed home values have increased and house/farm values have gone up by as much as 5%.
• Permanent, high-paying jobs were added and wind turbine techs were hired locally. One woman (a local that had been hired by the wind company) told us that she had been able to put $100,000 into a 401K in ten years by working for the wind company.
• Technology is used to turn the turbines off at sunset when bats come out to avoid harming them. It also exists to turn them off during times of migration.
• We did get to talk to a leaseholder for quite a while and could ask him questions. He was a local farmer. He explained that with no town taxes, people had more money to fix up their property and increase its value. He was very proud of his operation and saw no ill effects of the windmills.
• We stood directly under a windmill, just a few feet from the base, which confirmed for me that the sound was very significantly less than my lawnmower or the trucks that go by my house. It was easy to converse at the base of the windmills without noise interference.
Barre definitely needs to do its homework and from the information I gathered on the tour, it points to many ways to get the most out of an agreement with Apex if that is the path they choose. Currently, the Town of Barre does not have high speed internet to most of the town, the entire town does not have public water, and we are very much in need of a new fire house. While most of us love the rural nature of our town, it is also necessary to look to improving the economy and our tax base for the people living here. I am interested to know how most of the people of the town feel, not just the most vocal. This project is an opportunity. If it is not the right one for Barre, then what is your suggestion?
I am hopeful that Barre can come together on the best solution for the majority of the people. Establishing your point of view and doing all the research to support that view is easy. Let’s try to be a little more objective on both sides and consider each other’s point of view.