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Impact of wind farm project discussed

The potential impact of a proposed wind energy farm on the Ball Hill area in the Town of Hanover was discussed at a special meeting of the Hanover Town Board on Wednesday.

Robert Charlebois, managing director of Duke Energy, said the project will include 44 wind turbines on several hundred acres of land. More than 90 percent of the easements for the project are already in place with land owners, he said.

The newest design of the project calls for towers that would be about 450 feet tall. Eight of the wind turbine towers would be in the town, while the remaining towers would be in the Town of Villenova, Charlebois said.

Villenova is acting as the lead agency for the project, and will be the first to receive environmental studies and other documents required for the wind farm. The information will be distributed to the Town of Hanover, Chautauqua County and any other agency that may have to approve construction of the project.

Hanover Town Board members gave their unanimous approval to the company Wednesday night to proceed with the preparation stage of the project. According to the time line, the preconstruction phases will go on until fall, when final documents will be sent to the township.

After a public hearing and approval of all permits, construction of the wind energy farm could begin in 2013.

There is an eight-month estimated construction period.

At maximum capacity, the turbines could produce 100 megawatts of energy, according to Charlebois. He said it takes about one megawatt to supply 500 to 1,000 homes.

The turbine's propellers require 6 mph to 8 mph of wind gusts to operate and would automatically shut down in the event that wind is more than 56 mph.

Charlebois noted that since the original proposal by Nobel Energy several years ago, Duke Energy has modified the plan and would seek to install larger turbines. Due to their size and capacity, fewer turbines are proposed. The original design called for 56.

Charlebois said a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, would be negotiated on the project. He said the company would look to use locally qualified workers and materials.

Attorney Mark Sweeney said Duke Energy would be responsible to restore any roadways that are damaged or changed during the construction phase and a system would be in place for residents to file complaints during or after construction.

More information will be supplied as the town nears the deadline for a public hearing in the fall.