A recent state Supreme Court ruling could finally lead to wind turbines being erected in the town of Prattsburgh.
But opponents to a plan to have 53 energy generating wind turbines constructed along hilltops in northern Steuben County aren’t giving up the fight.
The state Supreme Court recently dismissed a lawsuit against the Steuben County Industrial Development Agency by the Advocates for Prattsburgh.
The Advocates had charged SCIDA did not adequately review environmental information provided by wind farm developer, EcoGen, before the board gave its final approval in late 2005.
Justice Harold L. Galloway Jr. ruled “an agency has considerable latitude in evaluating the effects of its actions and a court may not substitute its judgment for that of the agency.”
James Sherron, SCIDA executive director, said Galloway’s dismissal “clears the way for us to proceed to ensure the requirements we set for EcoGen are met.”
But there are still a few hurdles in EcoGen’s planned development in northwestern Steuben, including future legal action by the Advocates.
“They won the battle, but not the war,” said Advocates spokesman Al Wordingham, of Prattsburgh.
Wordingham said the Advocates will meet early next week, and consult with their attorney, Glenn Pezzulla, about their next step.
EcoGen’s development could also be restricted by a lack of access to a NYSEG substation in the neighboring town of Italy in Yates County. The Italy Town Board has enacted a moratorium that could prevent any wind project from using the substation.
Among those requirements are specific plans for the 53 sites EcoGen, a British-based company, intends to use for its wind project, Sherron said. Each plan will be reviewed, based on the final generic environmental impact statement accepted in late 2005 by SCIDA.
Wind farm development in the county has been the source of controversy since wind farms were first proposed in the town of Prattsburgh in 2002.
Supporters claim the 400-foot-tall turbines provide an essential source of renewable energy and local revenue. Opponents charge the turbines do not generate significant amounts of electricity and threaten people and the environment.
The Prattsburgh lawsuit was one of three current legal actions filed by opponents of proposed wind farms in the county. Recently, new lawsuits have been filed against the towns of Howard and Cohocton.
Other wind farms are being considered in the towns of Hornby, Hartsville and Hornellsville. The towns of Italy in Yates County and Orange in Schuyler County also are under consideration for development.
By Mary Perham
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