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Copenhagen farmers told to plan pole sites

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COPENHAGEN — Farmers were advised during an informational meeting Tuesday to decide in advance where they want poles to be placed in their fields for a 10-mile overhead planned along Route 12 in the towns of Champion and Rutland for the Cophenhagen Wind Farm project.

OwnEnergy, the Brooklyn wind developer planning the $198.5 million project in the town of Denmark, will allow farmers to negotiate with land surveyors where poles will be placed in fields to ensure they have enough clearance to operate large farming equipment, said Matthew J. Brower, an agriculture resources specialist for the state Department of Agriculture and Markets who hosted the informational presentation. The company plans to build 49 wind turbines that will generate 79.2 megawatts of electricity.

Only three of the farmers attending the meeting, held at Grace Episcopal Church, will be affected by the 115-kilovolt power line for the project, and none of them opposed the plan. The overhead power line will run west from a substation to be built near the Jefferson-Lewis county line in Copenhagen and connect to a National Grid substation near Burrville.

Nearly all of the farmers to be affected by the lines have already signed contracts with the wind developer, which is paying farmers $8,000 per acre for easement property it has leased in areas where the line passes through tillable farmland. The easement includes 50 feet on each side of the power line.

Mr. Brower has worked for more than 20 years with wind developers to protect agricultural land in projects across the state. He advised farmers to be vigilant for construction practices that could pose a risk to their land. First, he said, they should ensure the placement of poles affords sufficient space to operate large farm equipment, such as corn planters and sprayers. OwnEnergy plans to install single wooden poles, each designed to hold three wires, which will need to be 200 to 400 feet apart. Farmers should be meticulous about where poles are placed, he said.

“You need to make sure the poles are far enough from the road so that you can run a corn planter through evenly two times,” he said.

Compaction of topsoil caused by construction work can also be a risk, Mr. Brower said. Workers who operate heavy machinery on saturated soil should be required to use protective matting to safeguard the land, he said. If they don’t, farmers could end up with large ruts in fields. An agricultural inspector will be required to be on site during construction to ensure standards are being followed.

Jerry B. Wichelns, a local representative employed by OwnEnergy for the past two years to plan the project, said about 90 percent of the land needed to install the power line has been leased. The Denmark resident said OwnEnergy will reimburse farmers for any damage to land, and the company intends to use crawler-type machines designed to minimize the impact on topsoil.

Farmers with questions about the project may contact Mr. Brower at 1-518-457-2851.

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