ELLENBURG — The New York State Public Service Commission has approved modifications to the Marble River Wind Farm project, paving the way for construction to begin soon.
The decision will allow Horizon Wind Energy and EDP Renewables to install 492-foot-tall turbines at Marble River in the towns of Clinton and Ellenburg.
They will be the tallest turbines in New York state.
"The changes we are approving to the Marble River wind farm will help maximize project efficiencies to reduce construction and operational costs while continuing to minimize environmental impacts to the maximum extent practicable," Commission Chairman Gary Brown said in a press release from the Public Service Commission.
"The installation of these state-of-the-art turbines will maximize energy production while significantly reducing the number of turbines needed due to the more efficient use of the region's wind resource."
Based on Thursday's approval, Horizon Wind Energy will operate 72 three-megawatt turbines along Route 190 in both Clinton and Ellenburg. The original plans called for 190 2.1-megawatt turbines.
"The project area has been reduced from 18,500 acres to 11,500 acres, with corresponding reductions in impacts from roads and facilities associated with the facility," said Roby Roberts, spokesperson for Horizon Wind Energy.
"Since we're reducing the number of turbines from 109 to 72, we believe this is an improvement to the visual impacts from the project."
How the project would impact the community was a major part of the overall approval process, Roberts added.
LAUDED BY TOWN
Ellenburg Town Supervisor Richard Pearson applauded the news.
"It's beneficial on the basis of less surface, less footprints on the ground," he said. "The larger turbines are taller but not that much taller. You're not going to really see the difference (in height between the new turbines and those at other area wind farms) because of the way they'll be laid out."
Ellenburg will have 16 turbines rather than the original plan for 23, Pearson added.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is a plus," he said of the overall project. "Both Ellenburg and Clinton have been able to reduce the tax levy because of this project. These projects definitely help the community when more taxes are coming into the town."
The project has also boosted the physical space at the Town Hall. Horizon Wind Energy helped fund construction of an archives room and a storage room there, as part of its historic-preservation efforts, Pearson said.
Town of Clinton Supervisor Daniel LaClair couldn't be reached for comment.
The new turbine design will achieve greater efficiencies in production by utilizing new gearbox and control designs and with increased height and larger blades to maximize generation potential at low and medium wind speeds.
The new plans will also include significant reductions in the length and area of access roads, a reduction in the length of underground electrical collection lines and elimination of overhead collection lines.
The wind-farm developer requested modifications to the plan previously approved, with their sights set on a construction startup for early July to accommodate a planned outage on the New York Power Authority's interconnection line later this year and to maintain financial viability for the project.
Roberts said the project is expected to be completed sometime in 2012 but did not have a specific date.
Pearson said the town has not yet received an updated time line for the project but noted that owners have agreed to submit a schedule upon receiving approval.
He said other wind-turbine companies have shown interest in installing wind farms on Ellenburg land, which would add to the improved tax base and stronger property values.
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