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August 3, 2012

 

Landowner sees wind farm boon

Lease grants C’ville dairy farmer $8,000 a year per turbine

LandownerBob Ellis/staff photographer
Terry Beard and his mother, Betty, stand on their East River Road farm. They are hoping approval will be given for windmills on their property on the hill behind them.

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

CORTLANDVILLE — For dairy farmer Terry Beard, the decision to lease his Cortlandville land for wind turbines was a business decision, one that he hopes will enable the farm to stay operational for another generation.
Beard spoke of his 210-year-old farm proudly from his East River Road home Wednesday, saying the approximately $8,000 per-turbine-per-year lease agreement will help him pay property taxes for the 25-year life of the project.
The wind farm proposed for Cortland County by the United-Kingdom-based company TCI Renewables has been met with criticism lately as residents are faulting TCI for not providing enough details about the project or high enough payments for participating communities.
TCI is proposing to build about 50 of the 500-foot wind turbines in Cortlandville, Solon, Homer and Truxton.
The firm is in the process of drawing up its Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the towns are in various stages of drafting wind ordinances to govern the project.
No one spoke in favor of the project at a meeting in July that was designed for the public to submit feedback suggestions for TCI’s proposed environmental studies.
But Beard spoke candidly about his trust in the company and his desire to be part of a move toward alternative energy. Beard leased with TCI last year, saying he had some concerns about possible environmental risks and an impeded ability to use his land, but those have abated.
He found TCI officials to be honest and forthright in their dealings with him, and he says that every venture carries some element of risk.
Beard is leased to have a substation on his property that would transmit electricity from the windmills to power lines. He will get about $10,000 yearly for the substation and about $8,000 yearly for the wind turbine that may be constructed on his land, he said.
Beard owns 355 acres but said only about 4 acres would be used for TCI’s purposes. He said the land where the substation would be built is not usable crop land, anyway.
He said TCI was agreeable to adding any land-use amendments to the lease that would be needed in the future but he said he does not expect the use of his land to be impacted.
“We’ve got to find other resources,” Beard said of his attitude about wind power. He added that he admits that detrimental environmental impacts are possible.
“There might be dead birds or the shutter effect, but there’s got to be compromises,” Beard said, referring to the concern over the disorienting effect brought on by light flickering through the windmill blades.
Beard said he wants people to know that many leasing landowners like himself did not sign leases as a scheme to get rich.
“This is just for survivability and income over the next 25 years. To help maintain so the next generation can be here,” Beard said.
Bill Brown, who lives at 5022 Shippey Road, is closer to the location of the wind turbine proposed for Beard’s land than is Beard’s house. He said he will be able to see the windmill over the trees on his property.
“I don’t know if that will affect the landscape and I don’t think it will look too good,” Brown said, adding he is also concerned it may impact his ability to hunt on the property.
But David Wills, a resident in Solon who lives near a wind turbine proposed for Herbert Kilmer’s property off Sportsman Club Road, said the idea of a nearby wind turbine does not bother him at all.
Wills said he could see the balloon that TCI recently elevated at proposed wind turbine locations throughout the county to give an idea of the height of the towers. He speculated that in the winter a turbine may be more visible from his land than in the warmer months when leaves would obscure the view.
Wills said he is not concerned about noise from the turbine, adding he already hears the resounding gunshots from the nearby sportsclub.
Kilmer, reached at his home in Nicholson, Pa., said he signed with TCI just a few weeks ago to have one turbine erected on his land in Cortland County.
Kilmer owns about 220 acres bordered by Gutchess Timberlands Inc., which also appears to be slated for turbines, according to TCI’s maps and property line maps provided by the Cortland County Planning Department.
Gutchess did not return a phone call for comment.
Kilmer said he was not concerned about any adverse environmental impacts associated with the project. He pointed to the remoteness of the land, saying no-one will be bothered by a turbine out in that part of Solon.
“If anybody complains about it, it’s because they are not getting money out of it,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer did not say how much he is contracted to make from TCI in the agreement, saying it is not significant but will help with upkeep to his property.
He added he has never lived in Cortland County and bought the land years back hoping for it to be a profitable investment, indicating that it did not pan out.
At least one councilperson in the involved towns has disclosed holding a lease with TCI.
Homer Town Councilman Barry Warren is leased with TCI for land he owns in Truxton.
Homer Town Supervisor Fred Forbes said Warren will have to recuse himself from any votes on the matter.
“He absolutely in no way can have any say in any of this,” Forbes said.
Truxton Town Supervisor Frank O’Donnell was unaware of any councilpeople having leases and Cortlandville Supervisor Dick Tupper did not return a phone call for comment by press time. Solon Supervisor Joe Wafner was not available for comment.

 

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