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Lyme wants brakes on wind farm project  

Based on comments at a Thursday wind power meeting, Lyme residents are keeping an open mind about a proposed wind farm, but they would like to slow the process down and have their own say.

“My perspective is, things are moving too fast and we need to slow down,” Councilman Warren A. Johnson said. “I think my fellow councilmen agree with that.”

James H. Madden, a representative from BP Alternative Energy, spoke to a crowd of about 35 on Wednesday. BP’s proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm would run into the town of Lyme.

Mr. Madden said the company is thinking about 30 to 60 wind turbines in the town of Lyme and 60 to 80 in the town of Cape Vincent. It is considering 2.5-megawatt turbines for a 210-megawatt project, he said.

The Cape Vincent Planning Board named itself lead agency for the environmental review on BP’s project more than a month ago.

Cape Vincent Planning Board Chairman Richard J. Edsall attended the meeting in Lyme. The Planning Board, he said, sent a letter to the Lyme Town Council asking it to approve the Cape Vincent board as lead agency. When Lyme did not respond within 30 days, Mr. Edsall said, it approved Cape Vincent to move forward under state Environmental Quality Review Law.

Mr. Johnson challenged Mr. Edsall’s statements, saying the letter Mr. Edsall sent to Lyme did not say the town would be considered automatically in support of Cape Vincent being lead agency if it did not sign and return the letter.

Mr. Johnson said the Lyme Town Council did not act on the letter because it did not want to give its decision-making power to Cape Vincent.

He said Lyme should have at least a one-year moratorium on wind farm development. If the wind farm were to come to Lyme, Mr. Johnson said, it should be only east of Route 12E. BP’s proposal could place turbines west of 12E near Chaumont Bay in the town’s seasonal home district.

Councilman Michael P. Countryman also said he, and possibly other members on the Lyme Town Board, were not aware of the 30-day ultimatum.

Mr. Edsall said Lyme could become lead agency for the portion of the project in its town. BP would simply have to split its project into two separate entities. He said the Cape Vincent Planning Board wanted to incorporate Lyme into hearings concerning the company’s environmental review.

Mr. Madden noted that even if Lyme is not lead agency for the project, the town still could control where turbines could be through zoning and that the state environmental quality review process would use input from Lyme and its residents even if it is not lead agency. Nothing would happen, Mr. Madden said, until Lyme signed off.

“If the town of Lyme were to say, ‘We don’t like the way this is going in our town,’ that will be very much a part of the decision-making process,” he said.

Mr. Madden added that BP intends to submit a scoping document, which identifies the issues in the environmental review process, to Cape Vincent today. St. Lawrence Wind Farm, a second farm proposed only within Cape Vincent by AES Acciona Wind Power NY, was allowed by Cape Vincent to skip the scoping step.

Mr. Madden said BP chose to go through the scoping phase because the Public Service Commission and state Department of Environmental Conservation recommended it.

According to DEC’s Web site, a scoping document will allow public comment on possible impacts, eliminate nonsignificant issues and “focus the draft EIS on the potentially significant adverse environmental impacts.”

Mr. Madden said BP is willing to miss the New York state Independent System Operator’s March 31 deadline for inclusion in this year’s review of proposed power projects. The ISO most likely will require a draft environmental impact statement to move forward with that study this year, he said. Since BP is submitting a scoping document, it probably won’t have a DEIS ready by the deadline.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 02/23/2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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