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Department of Environmental Conservation wants more wind farm studies  

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is calling for more complete studies from the St. Lawrence Wind Farm in its environmental review.

“DEC strongly recommends that a supplemental DEIS (draft environmental impact statement) be prepared,” Jack A. Nasca, DEC chief of energy projects and management, wrote the Cape Vincent Planning Board.

Additional bird, wetland and topography studies must be done, DEC said.

The Planning Board is overseeing the environmental review process for the wind farm proposed by AES Acciona Wind Power N.Y.

Kimberly A. Chupa, a spokeswoman for DEC at its Albany headquarters, said the lead agency, the Planning Board, would have to request the supplemental document. DEC is an involved agency that makes recommendations.

A DEIS is a document that is part of the state environmental quality review process. Its purpose is to identify and study any adverse effects a development might have on the environment. A project can be turned down if adverse impacts cannot be mitigated.

DEC’s request for more information comes a month after the agency said the Planning Board should not have accepted St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s DEIS because its studies were not complete, making it difficult for the public to comment on the document.

St. Lawrence Wind Farm developer Todd R. Hopper was not surprised that DEC requested more information, and is not opposed to submitting a supplemental statement.

“We have to submit those studies,” he said. “They’re doing what they’re supposed to do. They’re making suggestions and asking for additional information.”

Mr. Hopper’s goal is to complete the studies by 2008. The project’s DEIS has outlined 96 possible turbine locations, although Mr. Hopper has said there probably will be just over 65 turbines in the final layout. Neither Mr. Hopper nor Planning Board Chairman Richard J. Edsall has yet reviewed DEC’s letter.

Mr. Hopper’s company has two other proposed wind farms in New York, both with a DEIS already submitted. The company is required to submit a supplemental statement for one because a transmission line that was not in the original plans was proposed, he said.

He said the drafts the company previously submitted for other projects also had incomplete studies. He did not experience opposition from the public as a result. The Wind Power Ethics Group, a citizens organization in Cape Vincent, also criticized the Planning Board for accepting St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s draft statement.

“Basically, people understood the SEQR process better than in Cape Vincent. I’m not sure why it’s different here,” Mr. Hopper said.

Mr. Hopper said the company submitted the DEIS when studies still had to be completed because it is important to involve the public in the process as soon as possible.

Ms. Chupa said it is not uncommon for supplemental impact statements to be submitted for wind projects, particularly when they are in ecologically sensitive areas like Cape Vincent.

According to DEC records, 17 draft statements have been submitted for wind farms in New York. Supplemental statements have been submitted for two of the 17 drafts. Neither of the supplements on record is for an AES Acciona project.

Seven of the 17 drafts resulted in a final impact statement, but none of the projects that have made it to the final stage was required to submit a supplemental statement.

“A supplement is intended to be prepared when a significant adverse impact is not addressed or inadequately addressed in the draft EIS. It is not always necessary to require a supplement when additional information is generated during the EIS period. Depending on the importance of the issue, some information can be provided and addressed in the Final EIS in response to comments raised during the public comment period for the DEIS,” Ms. Chupa wrote in an e-mail.

By Kelly Vadney

Publication: Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, NY)

Publication Date: 03/19/2007

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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