Conference educates on wind energy regulations

Eric Monnat

The subject of wind energy has long been a hot-button issue in Herkimer County, but the debate also stretches across the state, nation and other parts of the world.

While the topic is often a heated debate with scientific studies on both sides, a wind energy conference on Saturday at Herkimer County Community College focused primarily on the regulation of wind farms.

The Herkimer-Oneida Counties Comprehensive Planning Board held its second wind conference over the weekend, which was attended by over 100 people, most of whom were local planning and zoning board members who received credits for attending.

The state requires planning and zoning board members to obtain four hours of continuing education training each year. Those in attendance received two and a half hours of training.

Kristin Campbell of the HOCCPP said she and her colleagues were happy with the amount of people who showed up and were trained on wind energy and land use.

“It was good to not have a debate, but instead how to regulate it,” said Campbell. “The boards’ did get a lot out of it.”

The conference was broken into two topics, municipal regulation of wind energy facilities and the State Environmental Quality Review Act and public participation.

Linda King and Patricia Madsen of the state Department of State gave the first presentation and detailed the different types of wind energy systems, residential, agricultural and commercial, and regulatory tools which can be used to govern wind farms and turbines.

John Hecklau and Benjamin Brazell of Environmental Design and Research, PC, gave the SEQR and public participation presentation.

The SEQR Act states any wind projects that receive state funding or require local government approval are subject to review under the act and require permit applications.

HOCCPP is a recipient of the New York State Energy Research and Development Association grant that encourages the education of local officials and the public about renewable energy resources.