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Town Of Westfield Residents Updated On Visual Impact Assessment

December 11, 2008

The balloon tests scheduled for last week as part of Babcock & Brown’s Visual Impact Assessment for the proposed Ripley-Westfield wind project have been postponed due to weather and modified due to concerns that the original tests would not accurately represent the full visual impact of the proposed wind turbines.

The original parameters for the balloon tests, as released by Babcock & Brown, indicated that pictures would be taken from various points around the towns of Westfield and Ripley and that the helium balloons would be floated to an elevation equal to the hub height of the proposed turbine, approximately 265 feet.

Westfield resident Janet Nass questioned the proposed height of the balloon tests at last week’s Westfield Town Board meeting and wondered why the balloons were not proposed to be floated at the full height of the turbines at full blade extension which, according to Babcock & Brown’s application, would extend to a height not to exceed 445 feet.

Town Supervisor Martha Bills said that she had been in contact with the Town’s consultants for the project after seeing the parameters for the test. “I was surprised, too,” said Bills. “I had thought it would be to the full blade height.” Bills said she would follow up with the consultants and early this week was able to verify that the tests would, indeed, include balloons floated to the full blade height.

Babcock & Brown Renewable Holdings, Inc., as project sponsor, submitted an application for Special Use Permit to the Towns of Westfield and Ripley in April. The proposed project would involve the installation and operation of an approximately 125-megawatt wind energy facility consisting of up to 83 wind turbine generators (WTGs). The project also includes an electrical substation, connection to a nearby electrical transmission line and 20 miles of access roadways.

The Visual Impact Assessment is part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) currently being prepared by Babcock & Brown.

In accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act and its implementing regulations, a Final Scoping Document, intended to identify those environmental impacts that the co-lead agency is requiring Babcock & Brown to study and analyze in DEIS, was issued in early October. SEQR requires that the Final Scoping Document clearly articulate the methods and parameters of study and analysis required for each potentially significant environmental impact identified. The document draws from the Draft Scoping Document submitted by Babcock & Brown on July 8th as well as public comments on the Draft Scoping Document received at two public scoping meetings held July 29th and written comments received from the public and any involved and interested agencies.

The Final Scoping Document requires that potential project visibility and visual impact be analyzed and that a balloon test be completed to verify the completed viewshed maps and to better characterize potential project impacts.

As part of the visual impact analysis, a study of potential shadow flicker impacts on nearby residences, including number of potential receptors and predicted annual hours of shadow flicker is required.

The tests were originally scheduled for December 2nd, but have been delayed due to weather conditions. Babcock & Brown has indicated that notice of the rescheduled balloon test will be posted on the project web site. A link to that site is available on the Town of Westfield web site:



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