By: Jon Miller, Hannah Arp and Jared Rosenberg
HAMLIN, NY — The small town of Hamlin will soon be getting a big addition: A 182 foot tall wind turbine on Redman Road. The construction of the turbine is the result of a joint effort between the owners of Brightly Farms; Dean and Betsy Brightly, and Buffalo Renewables.
For the Brightly’s, the construction of the wind turbine is necessary to stay competitive with other states. The higher labor rate for migrant workers in New York means that farms in the state need to find other areas to increase revenue.
“If you go down south the H-2A labor rate in a lot of places is $7 an hour, $8 an hour, but in New York State it’s 13.25 an hour. It’s a huge jump. We’re not getting any more for our produce,” says Betsy Brightly.
The Brightly’s are trying to remain competitive in the agricultural industry by cutting down on their energy costs.
“Right now we operate using coal towers, it’s incredibly pricy.” Said Betsy Brightly. “Recently, we put in some solar panels but that takes up a lot of land. We need that land, so now we are trying to utilize wind towers. We want to go green, we want to be cost-effective and we want to adapt.”
The Brightlys originally had installed solar panels, but soon realized the drawbacks they come with.
“To put up the same amount of power as the wind turbine you need about 4 acres of land. A wind turbine takes up 24 feet of land,” says Betsy Brightly.
Solar panels heavily restrict the farmable land in the area surrounding them. This problem is almost completely avoided by wind turbines as crops can be harvested within 15 feet of the monopole.
“Being a farmer, I don’t want my good land to be used up that way. I could be growing crops on that,” says Dean Brightly.
Engineer and partner at Buffalo Renewables, Padma Kasthurirangan, has been with the
Brightly’s for their entire journey.
“Right now, say their additional charge for electric is about $1,000 per month, but if they go into the next tier it will be another $1,700 per month,” Kasthurirangan said.
There doesn’t seem to be much push back from the town’s zoning board. Concerns from local citizens are just as sparse.
Local Scott Pundt is more concerned with how the windmill will be maintained.
“As long as somebody is held accountable at the end of the day when it has to be fixed,
repaired or torn down…great,” Pundt said, “I think it’s all in the contract with the insurance companies if it breaks down, they will pay to replace it.”
Arthur Buss, another frequent shopper at the Hamlin Tops, is not fond of the aesthetics of wind turbines.
“They should put them on a lake,” Buss said, “they wouldn’t bother anybody but the residents on the lake would complain about it.”
Although “green” power is new to the small town of Hamlin and some people are skeptical of the look and purpose of it, the addition of environmentally conscious innovations are not slowing down.
A public hearing for the windmill will take place on Nov. 18 at the town hall.