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Copenhagen Wind Farm progresses, open house set

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COPENHAGEN — An open house for the Copenhagen Wind Farm project has been set following approval of both a draft environmental plan and a taxation agreement that would provide nearly $20 million to local municipalities over a 20-year period.

“All of the work is progressing according to schedule,” said Richard H. Porter, Lewis County Industrial Development Agency executive director, noting construction appears possible either next year or in 2015.

The open house is slated for 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday in the Copenhagen Central School gymnasium. Project maps and virtual images of what the towers would look like from different vantage points will be on display, and company officials and consultants will be on hand to answer questions.

Brooklyn wind developer OwnEnergy Inc., along with local partners, is proposing a $198.5 million project that would include 49 turbines, generating 79.2 megawatts, in the town of Denmark, just north of the 195-turbine Maple Ridge Wind Farm. It also would feature a 115-kilovolt overhead power line running about 9 miles through the towns of Champion, Rutland and Watertown to connect the wind farm to a National Grid substation near Burrville.

Lewis County IDA recently approved a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with OwnEnergy, and affected taxing jurisdictions have signed off on the plan, Mr. Porter said.

The agreement would start at $8,400 per megawatt in 2015, then increase by 2.5 percent each year. If the project is completed in 2014, the town of Denmark, Copenhagen and Lowville school districts and Lewis County would split a first-year payment of $665,000, with funding to total $19.2 million over the life of the PILOT.

Funding distribution among the taxing jurisdictions is to be fixed based on current tax rates and number of turbines.

The wind company also is to make an additional, one-time “impact payment” of $430,000 to the town of Denmark.

OwnEnergy also would be eligible for sales tax abatement, with the company expected to receive about $5.4 million in property and sales tax relief, Mr. Porter said.

The Denmark town Planning Board earlier this month approved a draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Syracuse consultant edr Companies. Comments may be accepted at least through early July before a final version is prepared.

According to the lengthy document, the project is to be located on roughly 9,700 acres of leased land and will result in disturbance of up to 372 acres of soil and 590 acres of forest or active farmland, with about 14 acres of wetlands likely to be disturbed temporarily and contingent on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval.

It would include three permanent meteorological towers, a system of gravel access roads, underground 34.5-kilovolt electrical collector lines, an operations and maintenance building and a collection and transforming substation.

“The Project will add to and diversify the state’s sources of power generation, accommodate future growth in power demand through the use of a renewable resource (wind), and over the long term will displace some of the state’s older, less efficient and less environmentally sustainable sources of power and/or the amount of energy imported into the state,” the impact statement said.

It should generate enough energy to serve 21,000 to 33,500 New York state homes, the document said.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement addresses potential impacts on air quality, visual and cultural resources, noise, transportation, public safety, communication facilities and land use. It includes studies on visual impacts, shadow flicker, television and radio reception, cellphone and mobile radio signals and sound levels, among other things.

The full report is accessible at www.ownenergy.net/project-development/copenhagen-wind-farm.

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