Opinion: Hopkinton clears the air over proposed wind farm
Monday, February 12, 2018 - 8:01 am

To the Editor:

In response to “Residents Need to Voice Opinion on Wind Farm,” which appeared in the Feb. 7-13 issue of North Country This Week: It would appear that the writer is so infuriated by the thought of missing out on lease payments that he has chosen to lie and mislead readers in hopes of gaining support for the ill-conceived North Ridge Wind Project.

First, I would like to applaud the Parishville Town Board that listened to their residents, conducted extensive research, and passed a wind law that protects people and property from intrusive 500-foot industrial wind turbines. It is my understanding that Avangrid was not happy that Parishville would not accept a PILOT worth a fraction of what full assessment would have generated in revenue.

The author goes on to warn the Hopkinton Town Board not to impose the proposed new wind law restrictions as they are "unreasonably restrictive" like Parishville's and "New York State Article 10 will not save this project." This statement is in sharp contrast to what Avangrid and a few leaseholders have always stated...Article 10 and the state would force this project through regardless of any local objections. I know that some leaseholders signed only after being informed that they were going to see their neighbors' turbines anyway, so they shouldn't miss out on an opportunity for themselves.

The writer states that the town needs this project badly. I attended the last several budget meetings and at no time did anyone claim the town was in financial stress or unable to meet it current or anticipated obligations; in fact, the budget came in under the tax cap.

Frank's statements bashing "Concerned Citizens" is full of inaccuracies and outright lies. This group of like-minded residents formed to educate stakeholders and protect our towns from a multi-billion dollar company that puts corporate profits above all else. To state that they are somehow involved with "big oil" and "destroying anything that has to do with green energy" is utterly ridiculous. Several members live "off grid" and utilize solar and I assure you that these same people would be putting up a fight if "big oil" wanted to start drilling wells, fracking or running a pipeline through our town. The writer reports that those opposing the project are jeopardizing the "$38 million the town would benefit from." Talk about misleading...that number is reportedly based on a 30-year project for turbines that have a twenty-year life span at best and will most likely be obsolete in five years.

Another issue for the writer is the land south of State Route 72. This area was not included in the original "wind overlay zone" proposed by Avangrid. The writer would have you believe that the area is no different from the land north of 72 and it would be "discrimination" not to allow turbines south of Route 72. Following his logic, then anyone in the town has the right to have a 500-foot turbine on their property - wind overlay zone or not. If he had done research, he would know that state forest lands south of 72 and other timberlands border the park and would pose a significant fire risk should a turbine, connector line, or a sub-station fail. The writer would have you believe that the foundations of the turbines or the pile driving for countless super-sized power poles are no different then the "basements of homes in Hopkinton." The fact is, I don't recall anyone having to dynamite for a foundation, and although I'm not an engineer, I can only assume that the foundation for a 500-foot turbine is somewhat more substantial then that of a two story home - nice try.

I personally find the writers attack on our newly elected councilwoman to be deplorable, slanderous, and possibly libel. He states "The Town of Hopkinton deserves better from it's councilmembers than what Parishville got from theirs." I recall a council meeting last year when the writer declared that we should, "just let the council members do their job".... apparently that only applies if the "job" means getting project approval (at any cost).

The St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators recently passed a resolution opposing wind turbine development in proximity to Fort Drum because they threaten the base's continued viability. I can only imagine what the writer and Avangrid will have to say about risking the jobs of thousands of servicemen and civilians in exchange for six promised jobs (probably three would be a more accurate number based on 27 turbines) servicing wind turbines.

Frank is calling for supporters to attend the next board meeting as it is the only thing that could potentially save the project. I would contend that the poor showing of supporters including, leaseholders is due to the realization that this project is a poor idea that has divided the community for long enough and an individual's property rights do not extend 500-feet in the air.

Jeffrey Snell