CLAYTON – Like Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines, Horse Creek Wind Farm has returned.
Developer Iberdrola Renewables brought in an application for a redesigned wind farm to the joint town and village Planning Board on Thursday night. The new application pares down the scale of the project to 50 turbines producing 100 megawatts. The proposal leaves the town of Orleans out entirely, when the previous plan had eight turbines in that town.
But nothing in the Horse Creek process has been smooth, and so it was Thursday when, after Iberdrola representatives left, zoning officer Henry R. LaClair said the application wasn’t complete because the developer had not submitted an application form or the application fee. That will be taken up with the company later.
Jenny L. Burke, business developer with Iberdrola, said the developer and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were satisfied that they could change operations to protect a federally listed endangered species. Indiana bats were the reason for the developer’s three requests for year-long suspensions on the application. The first two were honored, but the last, in June, was voted down by the board.
“We can take operational measures so we do not have the impact on the species,” she said.
Ms. Burke said the developer would work to set up an escrow account for the town’s legal expenses in considering the application and draw up letters to ask other agencies to allow the Planning Board to be lead agency in the pending state environmental quality review.
She said the draft environmental impact statement, or an evaluation of the effects of the project on all aspects of the town and environment, is nearly complete and will be submitted the last week of January.
“There are not major changes,” she said. “A lot of it is similar to what you have seen from the first time.”
She offered to have the developer’s consultant walk through the statement at the board’s next meeting.
The board members declined the offer.
“We’re going to need time to look at it,” said Ronald N. Duford.
Chairman Roland A. “Bud” Baril said the board has a couple other very time-sensitive projects.
“I need time for me to really review SEQR to try to figure out the best way to organize this review,” he said. “There’s no way to guarantee your March 1 deadline.”
He said the town’s attorney Joseph W. Russell would come in during the next meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at the town offices to explain the SEQR requirements and process.
Paul N. Copleman, communications manager with Iberdrola, said Tuesday the company will work during the rest of the year on state and federal permits.
“It’s a little early to speculate on what the timing might look like,” he said.
In December, Congress extended the federal Treasury Department’s 30 percent grant program for renewable energy project through 2011. Making enough progress on Horse Creek to qualify for the program would be difficult.
“Certainly, that’s an important policy for us and across the country,” Mr. Copleman said.
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