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High Sheldon tour showed positives of turbine project for a community

Posted 7 May 2019 at 9:39 am

Editor:

Kerri Richardson, president of Clear Skies Above Barre, recently wrote a letter about her version of the High Sheldon Wind Farm tour, sponsored by Apex. To say that she has misrepresented the information presented is an understatement.

As she was very open in saying, she missed a major part of the tour which was the bus ride, because the second part of the bus ride was an actual tour of the operating wind farm, guided by an actual lease holder. This portion also included a stop at the base of an operating turbine.  Exactly the type that she has specified in her smoke screen of publicly available facts that have no bearing on the actual intent of the letter, which is to twist the limited information that she did get into some sort of attempt at showing what was a quite positive presentation in the most negative light possible.

Ms. Richardson’s organization would better be named, “Keep our taxes High in Barre” as one of the better benefits of the placement of wind turbines in Sheldon has been the abatement of property taxes for the entire area. Not just the lease holders, but the entire town. The PILOT payments from Invenergy have given the town operating capital that is more than enough to do improvement projects as well as general upkeep on all town properties. The local schools and fire departments have benefited as well, since they are also taxing entities and get PILOT money too.

Ms. Richardson is very good at citing the smallest downside of anything as the biggest worry possible.  A decline in population (not directly attributable to the wind turbines) is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it is opening land for farming. The tax abatement provided by the development of the wind farm has given many local farmers the relief that they have needed to hold onto their farms and continue the family business. And no matter what she classifies as “business,” I would like to assure Ms. Richardson that farms are indeed serious business.

Having heard only a small portion of the conversation about migratory birds, Ms. Richardson seems to believe that there is no sort of protections being implemented to protect the waterfowl that traverse our skies every spring and fall. She seems to imply that the birds will be decimated as if they were flying directly into a food processor. This is simply not the case. First and foremost there will most certainly be a review of the application by the DEC, and they will have to sign off on the application. Without their approval this project won’t be done.

The Town of Barre and any other taxing entities could benefit greatly from the placement of wind turbines. We currently “make” milk, some vegetables and cow manure. The tax benefits of these are quite small, and the farmers bear the greatest burden. If we want Barre to survive, and even thrive, then we need to let this process take place.

We need to do our work on making the best possible deal. Supervisor Pogue and the Zoning board have to step up and do their part as well.  The variance needs to be granted for the height exception to the current zoning ordinance, during consideration of a permanent change.

One of the biggest fears that I hear is that the development may be abandoned if it is not profitable enough, and the town will be left with unmaintained turbines standing in the town. There is a mandated bond contingency to cover that possibility but it is highly unlikely, as the development wouldn’t even be this far along if they thought that this was going to be an unprofitable location. No profitable business is abandoned. Even if it is sold, once the infrastructure is in place, the worst thing that is likely to happen is that it will eventually be improved and made more efficient.

Karl White

Elba

(Mr. White is also a Barre landowner)