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Proposed Horse Creek wind farm suspended temporarily

With the numerous issues that building a wind farm raises for residents, the environment is always near the top of the list.

In the case of the Horse Creek Wind Farm, which would be located in the Town of Clayton and the Town of Orleans, its the reason the project is going into a temporary suspension.

The plight of the Indiana Bat and how wind farms can affect them is not a new issue for other wind farms in the nation, but it has been brought into serious contention for the Town of Clayton and the state since the bats are dying off in New York and no one is sure why.

The Indiana Bat is one of nine bat species found in New York, according to the Indiana Bat fact sheet at the DEC’s web site.

According to the DEC, “in New York, knowledge of (the bats) distribution is limited to known wintering locations-caves and mines in which they hibernate. There are eight hibernacula currently known in Albany, Essex, Warren, Jefferson, Onondaga and Ulster Counties.”

Until the DEC can figure out what is happening with the bats, the Horse Creek Wind Farm project is suspended.

The joint Village/Town of Clayton Planning Board met to discuss the suspension and how long it would be in effect.

According to Planning Board Chair Bud Baril, said that all indications point to the project being delayed a year or possibly more, but that the DEC wasn’t blaming wind farms for the declining bat population.

“It has nothing to do with wind turbines. They (the DEC) just don’t know,” he said.

The planning board had one condition on the suspension.

PPM Energy (now called Iberdrola Renewables) would have to come back in a year and update the board on where the project stood.

“It’s a problem that has just recently come up, they need to address it…rather than carry on a whole bunch of research, it’s better to hold it now and see where that goes,” Mr. Baril said.

For now, the planning board can only wait.

Members of Environmentally Concerned Citizens Organization (ECCO) of Jefferson County were on hand at the meeting and were pleased to learn of the resulting suspension.

“ECCO appreciates all the efforts and hard work by the residents here in their writing campaigns to all our State Officials regarding our environment and our wildlife,” the organization wrote in a press release on the suspension.

Rachel Kent reports:

WWNY TV 7

Resources:

* Bat Management: The Indiana Bat and Wind Farms
* Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article on wind power endangering bats
* Town of Clayton Joint Zoning and Planning Board
* ECCO Reaction to the Suspension

6 June 2008