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April start expected for wind farm work

The energy-from-wind revolution is more than just breeze in Wyoming County.

In April, construction is scheduled to begin on a 67-turbine wind project south of Route 39, according to Michael Heftka, executive director of the Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency.

The Town Board expects to get bids from builders within the next couple of months, according to Eagle Supervisor Joseph Kushner. NOVO Environmental Technology Services will serve as consultant and trainer for the wind farm, providing security and quality services. General Electric will construct the turbines.

Projects also are on the drawing boards in the towns of Sheldon, Perry, Warsaw and Covington.

Eagle encountered few obstacles in winning approval for the project.

"The land is vast in Eagle, and there isn't any industry here," Kushner said, calling the wind farm an economic boost for the town, which has had its share of slowdowns.

Heftka noted that wind farm proposals elsewhere have been known to whip up a storm of controversy.

"Some communities are anxious and want no part of them," Heftka said. "In the Town of Eagle, there is a lot of open space, but in Perry, Warsaw or Covington, there could be more opposition to them."

The proposal was a no-brainer for Eagle, a community where taxes have increased and where many incomes fall below the national poverty level.

"The biggest benefit we'll see from the wind project is the tax break, which will give us $60,000 to $70,000 in the next 15 to 20 years," Kushner said. "This town currently has the second highest tax rate in Wyoming County."

Eagle's supervisor also noted town officials "covered all our bases" in researching the wind farm.

"The town has been fortunate and active in the wind project," he said. "We worked together, conducted a lot of studies and research."

He conceded that the major stumbling block to any wind farm project is what offends the eye.

"The tradeoff is the visual impact," he said, "but in the long run it is going to benefit the town."

In Sheldon, a proposed 86-turbine project is undergoing an environmental review. But no dirt is likely to be moved soon.

"It is a long-detailed process," Heftka said. "We could be looking at permits in six months or it could take two years."

Sheldon Supervisor John Knab said the proposal will be reviewed over the next month.

The search for clean alternative energy sources has shifted into high gear as the world groans under the burden of geopolitical and ecological handicaps of oil and other fossil fuels In the Midwest, farm owners routinely supplement their incomes by allowing wind turbines on their land.

Wyoming County officials are considering a uniform policy, drafted by the development agency, on tax exemptions for wind energy projects.

The state offers incentives to promote energy alternatives such as wind power, which is widely believed to have the potential to make a major dent in the state's power needs.

The State Energy Research and Development Authority supports extensive prospecting efforts to find promising sites for wind farms.

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