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Shell WindEnergy leaving Albany County

Company says it didn’t secure enough land for wind farm project; landowners cite financial arrangement
 
By LARRY RULISON, Business writer 
First published in print: Friday, November 7, 2008 
RENSSELAERVILLE — Shell WindEnergy has abandoned plans to develop two large wind farms in the hilltowns of Albany County.

Until last month, Shell had been approaching landowners to negotiate options on leasing land atop the Helderberg Escarpment, where wind patterns are extremely favorable for powering wind turbines.

Now, the Houston company, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell, has mailed letters to landowners it had been negotiating with to say it is walking away from the project.

“We’ve ceased our wind development efforts in Albany County,” Shell WindEnergy spokesman Tim O’Leary said in an e-mailed statement Thursday afternoon. “This decision is based upon a number of considerations, primarily not securing enough land for a viable project and the time projected to obtain project permitting.

“We are extremely appreciative of the cooperation and support that we have received from landowners, members of the community and other stakeholders,” it stated.

In a subsequent telephone interview, O’Leary said the inability to get enough land secured was the biggest problem. A similar issue led the company to pull out of another potential wind farm development in Cayuga County, he said.

A map of Shell’s plans shows that one wind farm would have been located in the towns of Berne and Rensselaerville in Albany County, with a small portion in the Schoharie County town of Broome.

A second wind farm would have been built on land that straddled Berne and New Scotland.

The two sites would have included a total of 50 turbines, enough to power 25,000 homes.

Although there was some outright opposition to the plan, local landowners were primarily upset over Shell’s financial offer, saying it was not enough. In general, it included a one-time fee of $30 an acre for an option to lease the land, and royalty payments based on revenue generated from the turbines.

Most of the hilltowns do not have zoning laws that allow commercial wind farms.

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