Roxbury wind project flapping in the breeze
By Julia Green
The wind game remains a waiting game.
When the Roxbury Planning Board convened for its monthly meeting on Wednesday night, their consulting firm LaBella’s representative John Collins began the discussion by reminding the board that the current stages of review do not constitute a formal step in the SEQR process.
He added that the possibility of further studies being conducted arose and that by communicating those possibilities to wind turbine developer Invenergy early would allow them to get started.
At the board’s September meeting, LaBella reported back to the planning board with its suggestions for the board’s responses to public comments submitted in May, which were collected and submitted to Invenergy along with the board’s own comments and the comments from various public agencies, including the DEP and DEC. LaBella also submitted a document to the board containing its own responses to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
Also at the September meeting, the board discussed the possibility of requiring Invenergy to conduct additional studies in order to adequately address concerns raised by the public and by the board itself.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the board once again reviewed the list of studies they may require Invenergy to conduct, including additional bat and avian studies; visual impact assessment studies in such areas as Plattekill Mountain and Shephard Hills Golf Course; a traffic and road impact study; a property value study, particularly as it relates to the second home market; a noise study; and further forest and habitat studies.
In terms of the suggested noise study, Planning Board Chairman Joe Farleigh suggested that a study be done with a decibel reader at another three-mega watt wind farm already in operation in order to gauge the noise level emitted by a wind farm that would be similar in size to the Moresville Project.
Finally addressed Wednesday was the issue of the Vestas V90 model turbine being feasible for installment at the proposed site, given its incline and elevation. Much has been asked about the viability of the V90 turbines along the ridgeline, citing the model’s own operating manual and the fact that the model in question has never been used at a similar site.
After repeated requests from the board for Invenergy to contact Vestas to certify that the turbines are appropriate for the given location, Invenergy produced a letter from the manufacturer, stating that Vestas would “honor the warranty” on the turbines at the proposed location.
Regarding the 1,300-foot setback suggested in the manufacturer’s own operating manual, the applicant explained that the language existed due to lawsuits in a number of different countries.
In the letter, the manufacturer stated that they were certifying the turbines as appropriate for installation at the proposed Moresville site “based on the climactic data sheet,” essentially saying that the turbines would function under the projected conditions and that the location falls within the model’s parameters.
Board members reiterated that while functionality is a concern, safety is also something that must be considered, and pointed to the manual’s statement that the proposed model is susceptible to overheating at 3,300 feet as potential cause for concern. The altitude at the top of Mt. Utsayanthia, the highest point on the Moresville Ridge, is 3,214 feet.
The board opted to send a letter to Invenergy asking that they clarify the letter from the manufacturer.