Residents have mixed views on allowing met towers in Barre

Photos By Tom Rivers: Barre resident George McKenna urged the Town Board to delay a decision on two meteorological towers in Barre to see if a deal for revenue can be struck. McKenna said he has concerns about a proposed wind energy project for the town.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 June 2018 at 10:43 pm

Apex will pay $70K to have town, citizens’ group review preliminary scoping statement

BARRE – It was a packed town hall this evening with the Barre Town Board holding a public hearing about two proposed meteorological towers.

Apex Clean Energy, developer of the proposed Heritage Wind in Barre, wants to have a 262.5 foot high met tower at 5140 Angevine Rd., on land owned by Jon and James Peglow. Apex also wants a met tower that would be 196 feet high on Root Road, on land owned by Richard Miller.

Both towers would be temporary and sited in an residential/agricultural district. Apex last year constructed a met tower on Thorpe Road.

The towers provide important meteorological information, as well as data on wind strength and consistency.

“Let’s allow the met tower and see the data,” said resident Tom Hicks. “Maybe it’s data we all need to know.”

Tom Hicks, a Barre resident, urged the town to approve a special use permit for the met towers so the company, Apex Clean Energy, can determine the wind strength and consistency, and discover other data that could be useful in siting a project – or not siting one if the wind isn’t strong enough.

Iva McKenna, a member of the Clear Skies Above Barre citizens’ group, said Apex hasn’t shared any data from the first met tower. She said the company has been a divisive presence in town, securing leases when information about the project isn’t fully available to the community.

She didn’t blame residents for signing leases, when she said $15,000 to $25,000 is offered for each year.

She urged the Town Board to look out for the good of the entire town.

Her husband, George McKenna, also addressed the board. He said the town should be aware of the full scope of the proposed project, and Barre should be getting surveys of all residents to gauge their opinion.

He worries only a small percentage would benefit from the project to the detriment of many.

Town Supervisor Sean Pogue said the Town Board is considering a survey. If the project moves forward, Barre will negotiate a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) arrangement where Apex pays local governments.

McKenna said the Town of Arkwright received $30,000 from a wind developer for having a met tower go up. He said Barre should be paid as well.

Pogue said he wasn’t aware of any towns being paid for met towers. He wanted to check with Arkwright officials on that revenue.

The Town Board will meet again at 7 p.m. on June 13 to vote on whether the met towers will be given special use permits.

Apex wants to ultimately wants to construct a 200-megawatt project in Barre. The company has submitted a preliminary scoping statement for the project.

As part of the PSS, the company has to provide $350 for each proposed megawatt to have the project reviewed by the host municipality and other citizens’ groups.

A judge determined Barre would receive $40,000 in intervenor funds and Clear Skies Above Barre would have $30,000. That will allow the groups to hire environmental attorneys and experts to review the Apex submission.

Kerri Richardson, Clear Skies president, said the group will contract with an environmental law firm and other experts. Pogue said Barre will hire Alan Knauf, a Rochester attorney who specializes in environmental issues, and environmental scientists and engineers from LaBella Associates. Barre will meet with its team on July 18 to discuss how it will review the PSS.

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