Amidst Setbacks, Windmill Project Motors On
Published: July 22nd, 2022
By: Shawn Magrath

Amidst setbacks, windmill project motors on Guilford Town Supervisor and Chairman of the Chenango County Board of Supervisors George Seneck. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

GUILFORD – In spite of delays and skyrocketing costs, the proposed High Bridge wind farm in Guilford is still a go, according to local officials, although the exact project timeline remains unclear.

Representatives of High Bridge Wind, the LLC behind the proposed 25-turbine wind farm, met with Guilford town officials last week to give updates on the project’s standing. While the project has faced unexpected setbacks, largely due to issues spawned by the pandemic, the company says it’s still forging ahead.

“Everything is on hold due to current economic conditions,” Guilford Town Supervisor George Seneck said at a meeting of the Chenango County IDA on Wednesday. “They assured us that it’s a good project, it will be moving forward. It has a lot of state support. It’s solid; but due to supply chain issues and increased energy cost, it’s up millions and millions of dollars.”

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Tree clearing for the project had been slated to begin by early 2023, though Seneck said he hasn’t heard confirmation if that’s still the case.

Northland Power, the parent company of High Bridge Wind, gained the New York Siting Board’s approval in March of 2021, followed by securance of the Chenango County IDA’s PILOT and sales and mortgage recording tax exemptions in November. Per the PILOT agreement, High Bridge will make additional payments to the Town of Guilford, Chenango County, the Bainbridge-Guilford Central School District, and the Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton Central School District.

High Bridge also struck a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with the Town of Guilford last fall. Under the agreement, High Bridge Wind will pay the town $400,000 per year, including an annual 2 percent inflation adjustment, for the next 30 years (totaling $16.2 million over the life of the HCA). The HCA also requires the creation of escrow accounts to cover the town’s legal costs, along with provisions for decommissioning and cultural resource mitigation.

“We expect to get payments in our HDA agreement and our road use agreement when they actually start construction,” Seneck said.

High Bridge Wind is proposing construction of up to 25 100-megawatt, 650 to 676-foot-tall power generating wind turbines located on the hills of Guilford. If carried out, Chenango County would be home to some of the tallest land wind turbines in the country.

According to the High Bridge website, power generated will connect to existing NYSEG transmission lines, adding power to the state’s grid. What’s more, residents will see long-term revenues in the form of land-leases and good neighbor agreement payments during development and operations. The company also cites the benefits of added jobs as well as increased revenue for the town, school district, hospitals, libraries, and emergency services.