COPENHAGEN — A large white tent pitched a few feet away from the part of the Copenhagen Central School District playground donated by EDF Renewables and its subsidiaries housed a dedication and symbolic “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the company’s Copenhagen Wind Farm that became operational in January.
The Friday afternoon event was attended by about 60 people: a mix of landowners that financially benefit from having EDF’s 495-foot-tall turbines on their property, residents involved in the WinDenmark group that oversees the distribution of a fund of about $7,000 set up by EDF to community-oriented projects, municipal officials and various wind company and affiliate employees.
Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds said in her comments, ”The wires that connect this wind farm to the grid are also connecting your community to the amazing innovation that’s happening across New York State, across the United States and across the globe.”
EDF’s highest ranking official at the event, Vice President of Development Cory Basil, said the wind farm will power about 35,000 households and has already had a positive economic impact on the community, including an estimated $35 million worth of spending in the area during the lifespan of the project so far and, at the peak of construction, hundreds of temporary jobs created, with “a few others that will be in the area for the life of the project.”
The company started about 30 years ago, Mr. Basil said, and creates about 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy through its projects around the country.
Lewis County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Eric Virkler said the energy company’s PILOT payments will total about $680,000 per year beginning next year, to be divided among the town of Denmark, Copenhagen Central School District, Lowville Academy and Central School District and Lewis County.
He said the money will help local communities and alleviate some financial pressure on taxpayers.
The Copenhagen Wind Farm began in 2006, but it was OwnEnergy that pushed the project forward in 2009. EDF acquired OwnEnergy in 2015 “with this project at the pinnacle of the portfolio” Mr. Basil said.
Founder of OwnEnergy Jacob Susman credited the Maple Ridge Wind Farm as the inspiration for Copenhagen Wind Farm and P.J. Saliterman, project manager for 11 years, for bringing the stalled Copenhagen Wind Farm to his attention around 2009, encouraging OwnEnergy to take advantage of the window of opportunity before the Article 10 process went into effect, making the process more difficult.
“It’s not just the economic impulses,” Mr. Susman said, “This is long-term, fixed-price, clean power that we are able to generate domestically and that feeds back into the local economy. I hope this is a proud day for you, it’s certainly a proud day for me.”
Other speakers at the event included Mr. Saliterman and Stephane Desdunes, both directors of development for EDF, Jacob Shaver, a representative for Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, and village resident and liaison for the project, Jerry Wichelns, who offered a poem he wrote for the occasion.
The wind farm consists of 40 turbines in Denmark producing 80 megawatts of faceplate power and underground transmission lines that cross Champion and Rutland, Jefferson County.
Mr. Susman said there was “no opposition” to the wind farm when his company acquired it, which he said he appreciated. Lately some town residents have been reaching out to municipal and county leaders about issues relating to turbines near their houses including sound, flicker and vibrations.