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Developer gives up on planned North Ridge Wind Energy Project

By Charles McChesney

Date:

A May 2011 photo of the Hopkinton, New York Town Court. (PHOTO CREDIT: Doug Kerr from Albany, New York, via Wikimedia Commons)

HOPKINTON — A wind-farm project planned for St. Lawrence County has been withdrawn by the developer.

The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment said June 22 that Atlantic Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables, announced it was no longer going to pursue regulatory approval.

In a letter to the town board in Hopkinton, the company said that because of revote on a town law that would essentially block wind development in the town, it would “cease all development efforts on the North Ridge Wind Farm.”

A letter to leaseholders offered a similar explanation, lamenting the process. “As we’ve publicly expressed, the most disheartening thing about this abrupt reversal and improper revote is that it surrendered to the handful of opponents that used intimidation and fear mongering tactics. The board’s action ignores so many voices in the community, including the 250-plus residents of Hopkinton identified during our recent door-to-door outreach and post-card campaign.”

The proposed wind farm would have included up to 40 wind turbines in the towns of Hopkinton and Parishville and supplied power for 25,000 average New York homes, the company said in a web posting.

Atlantic Wind estimated landowners and others in the local area would collect more than $38 million in payments over 30 years.

The company said some $500,000 a year would be paid for leases, easements and “good neighbor payments,” while another $750,000 would be paid in town and school district taxes.

The project faced opposition in the communities. Filings show multiple letters from residents concerned with the impact of the wind farm on scenic views, on animals and plants. One document highlighted concerns that the flowering plant purple trillium could be affected. “Purple Trillium is listed as endangered in Illinois, threatened in Rhode Island, and exploitably vulnerable in New York State,” according to the document.

The region’s largest employer and main economic driver also submitted a letter expressing concerns about the wind project.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization, and others, warned that wind turbines in the area could threaten the fort’s future. “It is a proven fact that wind turbines adversely affect the radar capabilities at Fort Drum’s Wheeler Sack Army Airfield as well as the Doppler Weather radar site at Montague. Two projects, Maple Ridge in Lewis County and Wolfe Island in Canada, already exist in the region; they visibly distort radar and present negative impacts on safe flight operations for helicopter and fixed wing aircraft, as well as doppler weather radar located in Montague,” the organization wrote.

“As the largest single site employer in New York State, there is no argument that we need to protect Fort Drum so that it remains the major economic driver of the North Country,” it continued.

According to federal figures, New York gets 3 percent of its electric power from the wind, more than it obtains from coal, oil, and solar power combined. More than one-third of the power to the state’s grid comes from natural gas, nearly one-third from nuclear power, and 22 percent from hydropower. Biomass, from the burning of wood and other materials, accounts for just less than 2 percent.

The withdrawal comes as another Avangrid project — Mad River Wind Farm planned for Redfield and Worth — is facing opposition among some residents of the Tug Hill Plateau.  

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