Gas drilling, wind towers to be topic at Summit summit

Natural gas drilling and industrial wind turbines will be the topic of an informational meeting s


Natural gas drilling and industrial wind turbines will be the topic of an informational meeting scheduled tonight.

The Town Board is hosting Schoharie County Planning and Development Director Alicia Terry for a question-and-answer session at the Town Hall at 7 p.m., and it will be the Town Board members asking the questions, Town Supervisor Harold Vroman said.

“Because of the gas drilling [interest] that’s going on in Otsego County, that’s getting closer,” Vroman said.

The town wants to learn what steps it can take legally to regulate both gas drilling and industrial wind power development, he said.

“[Town Board members] want to get some updates. Probably in the future here, we’re going to adopt a town law on wind power like Schoharie and Middleburgh,” Vroman said.

Terry said the town of Middleburgh has adopted a law regulating wind turbines and the county Planning Department is working with the town of Esperance to develop one as well.

A meeting is planned with the town of Seward later this month for a similar discussion, she said.

The process of developing a law to regulate large wind towers turned controversial in the town of Richmondville, where a law is still in the development stages.

A couple of years ago, the town established a setback committee to explore what distance a large wind turbine should be set back from property boundaries.

Wind energy development proponents said the 2,500-foot setback recommended by the committee would kill any such development, as there would be no suitable land.

Terry said she is not aware of any current efforts to lease land in the county for wind turbines or natural gas drilling — another subject that’s generated debate in the county, one of several in New York which sit atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.

The citizen group Schoharie Valley Watch is calling on residents in the county to attend tonight’s meeting to ensure “that the information presented is accurate, fair and balanced,” according to a news release.

Schoharie Valley Watch co-director Bob Nied on Thursday said thousands of acres of land have been leased for gas drilling in Otsego County bordering Schoharie to the west, which could indicate that interest may migrate east.

SVW and other groups around the state have been concerned with the impact that hydrofracking — a form of drilling that entails pumping chemicals into the ground to release gas — could have on ground water. The organization has been calling on Schoharie County government to take a lead in developing laws to protect groundwater from drilling.

But SVW lacks confidence the county will work to that end since county Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl Van Wormer joined a landowners’ coalition a couple years ago.

The group of landowners, which hasn’t been meeting, sought to pool their efforts to ensure they get the best terms, or most money possible, from gas drilling company leases.

In other places, Nied said, municipalities that lacked zoning regulations governing wind generator development, such as Summit, have been the focus of wind development because of the lack of legal impediments.

“Summit may be very attractive for wind companies,” Nied said.

In 2007, RP Wind, a subsidiary of Vermont-based Reunion Power, submitted an “interconnection request” for a wind project expected to be in service in 2011 or 2012 and SVW found four land leases in property records for wind projects in Richmondville. All those leases, and the project, have been terminated, a Reunion spokesman said in October 2009.

Categories: Schenectady County

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