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Shell reportedly explores local wind project

Hill Town landowners say company representatives have contacted them
By LARRY RULISON, Business writer 
First published in print: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 
BERNE — A subsidiary of Shell Oil is seeking to develop wind farms in Albany County.

The Altamont Enterprise broke the story in its Thursday edition, saying Shell WindEnergy has been contacting landowners in the Hill Towns about installing 50 wind turbines totaling 100 megawatts of capacity — enough to power about 25,000 homes — at sites in Rensselaerville and New Scotland.

“I can only confirm that we are active in the Albany area and elsewhere in the state,” Shell spokesman Tim O’Leary told the Times Union on Monday.

O’Leary declined to confirm or deny details in the Enterprise story, which said the project could involve land from the 4,594-acre Partridge Run State Wildlife Management Area in the town of Berne.

Shell WindEnergy has developed projects in West Virginia, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado and elsewhere across the country.

The potential project has not been formally presented to any government entity, but some local resistance is apparent.

“I am absolutely opposed to industrial wind power in the town of Berne,” said Supervisor Kevin Crosier. “We are the jewel of Albany County.”

He said town residents have been coming to Town Hall to complain about Shell representatives telling them a deal was already in place.

“They’re going around lying to people,” Crosier said. “This is so typical of large industry.”

O’Leary, the Shell spokesman, declined to respond to those allegations.

Crosier said he has heard nothing from the state about the possible use of Partridge Run for wind turbines. Officials with the Department of Environmental Conservation said Monday they knew nothing of such a proposal.

DEC spokeswoman Lori O’Connell said Partridge Run was given to the state by the federal government in the 1960s, and the deed specifically states the land must be used only for public benefit.

“If it were to be used for any other purpose, the federal government would get it back,” O’Connell said.

David Weiss, a Medusa resident who is developing community-owned wind projects in Rensselaerville, said the town’s comprehensive plan, which he worked on, prohibits corporate-owned wind farms unless they “significantly” benefit the town directly in the form of cash payments.

“Shell didn’t do their homework,” he said.

Larry Rulison can be reached at 454-5504 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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