Posted 9/08/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
An application for a state-level permit on a proposed wind farm north of Tioga goes to public hearing on Oct. 8.
Tradewind Energy filed an application last July with the Public Service Commission for site compatibility. The permit is the final regulatory hurdle the company must pass before beginning construction on the project, which is slated for summer of 2016, if the application is approved.
The PSC encourages any residents who will be impacted by the project to come to the hearing to give their support or objections to the project.
“That is the only place that public comments can be submitted into the official record,” said PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak.
With the hearing set to be held in Tioga, it will at least be convenient for those who wish to speak.
Fedorchak said residents can provide written communications on this application before the hearing, and commissioners may raise questions at the hearing based on those communications. But the decisions the PSC makes in regard to approval or denial of the application must be based on the official record.
Any emails or letters received before or after the hearing are not considered when the commissioners make their final decision.
Fedorchak said the commission will factor in a number of considerations into their decisions. These include how well the company will manage “shadow flicker,” which is caused by the moving shadows of the blades.
“It can be an annoyance for some,” Fedorchak said.
The company must also demonstrate that the turbines will produce no more than 50 decibels noise level at 100 feet from any occupied residence. A vacuum cleaner is about 70 decibels, and a whisper is about 20 decibels.
The state doesn’t have specific setback requirements from occupied residences, but Fedorchak said they defer to local ordinances. Williams County requires a 1,400-foot setback.
The Lindahl Wind Farm project was initiated by about 30 landowners in the project area.
As the project moved through the county permitting process, many residents in the area voiced opposition to the project over concerns of how it could spoil the view of the countryside, create noise pollution, and disturb livestock.
Supporters cite property rights of the participating landowners, the need to meet future electricity demands in the region, job creation, and millions in tax revenues the project could generate over its lifetime.
The Tioga City Commission and Williams County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of the company’s application for a conditional use permit. The boards of the Sauk Valley, Tioga, and Lindahl Townships recommended approval. Ultimately, the Williams County Commission approved the permit, which was required before the PSC would consider the state permit for the project.
According to Brice Barton, senior development manager for Tradewind, to accommodate the concerns of protesting citizens, the company revised the location of the turbine towers so all are located at least 3,500 feet from any non-participating homes.
Additionally, Fedorchak said Tradewind will need to meet certain environmental and archeological impact requirements.
The hearing will be on Oct. 8 at 9 a.m. at the Neset Consulting Service conference room, located at 6844 Highway 40 in Tioga.