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Rutland, Champion officials schedule public hearing on wind development moratorium

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RUTLAND — The Rutland Town Council voted to schedule a public hearing on a proposed 180-day moratorium on wind development and the construction of transmissions lines in Rutland for 7 p.m. April 12.

OwnEnergy, Brooklyn, is considering the construction of a wind farm of up to 80 megawatts in the town of Denmark. The company in December erected a meteorological tower off Wilson Road, just west of the hamlet of Denmark, to test wind speeds.

Representatives met with homeowners in Rutland about a proposed transmission line that would run through Rutland and Champion to the National Grid station near Burrville on outer Gotham Street in the town of Watertown.

“We don’t have any kind of guidance for anyone on how this will affect the town of Rutland,” said Supervisor Ray P. Cramer at the March 8 meeting.

Despite meeting with local landowners, OwnEnergy officials said they will likely need about a year’s worth of favorable data to attain financing for a wind project. There is currently no project under review with the Public Services Commission and no requests for transmission lines to run through either Rutland or Champion. The commission officials could overrule the moratorium or any other local regulation if they felt it was “unreasonably restrictive” to the approved project, according to Article 7, 126(f), but the wind project is not yet under review by the PSC.

The town’s proximity to Fort Drum would also have to be considered, especially since the base has certain restrictions on air space.

The Champion town board is considering a moratorium on power transmission lines and supporting towers and scheduled its public hearing for 7:30 p.m. April 2. Town Supervisor Terry L. Buckley has also met with company officials to discuss the project.

Rutland Town Attorney Timothy A. Farley said the town of Denmark officials took nearly a year to craft the town’s local laws governing wind development.

“They wanted this as loose as possible and as developer-friendly as possible,” he told the Rutland town board.

The suggested moratorium would allow the town officials time to consider how wind development might affect the town and enact any local laws needed, Mr. Cramer said.

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