ORANGEVILLE – Last week’s approval of the Stony Creek Wind Farm comes as a disappointment to its opposition.
“This was a rare opportunity for a very competent government agency to get to the bottom of what skeptics of industrial wind power have saying for some time, that wind farms are unlikely to ever make a significant contribution to New York’s electricity needs,” said Attorney Gary Abraham, who represents Clear Skies Over Orangeville. “That was CSOO’s position in the PSC proceeding.”
The state Public Service Commission on Friday gave the go-ahead for the wind farm that will house up to 59 electricity-producing wind turbines, as long as it receives an independent certification the turbines will function as intended.
The authorization also allows Stony Creek LLC to begin site development for a two-acre substation and connect into a 230-kilovolt transmission line owned by New York State Electric & Gas.
“CSOO is of course disappointed with PSC’s decision,” Abraham said. “Particularly troubling is the agency’s decision to waive a ‘deliverability study’ requirement it imposed on large wind farms like this one in 2009.”
“The requirement was developed to address the likelihood, as PSC found in 2009, that new wind farms in either of the two concentrated areas of wind farm development in New York would not be able to deliver their electricity, either because transmission line limits could not handle the surge of several wind farms at one time, or because a new wind farm would displace electricity generated by another wind farm, or by no-emissions hydropower plants.”
“The two areas of concentrated wind farm development are the north country and Wyoming County,” Abraham continued. “As a result of the requirement, all wind farm proposals available then or since reduced their design size to just under 80 MW, the threshold for the requirement to apply.
“All except one – Stony Creek in Orangeville,” he said. “The PSC has ruled that Stony Creek need not demonstrate its electricity would be actually deliverable.”
The PSC authorization order denied CSOO’s requests for additional information and ruled against the group’s arguments.
The order said CSOO was incorrect in claiming the project’s environmental impact statements and lead agency findings lacked sufficient information.
Stony Creek LLC provided additional information as supplements to its application, the PSC order reads. Those actions were taken at the state Department of Public Service’s request, and in response to parties and non-parties in the project.
“Additional information on the topics discussed by CSOO is therefore available for our consideration,” the order says. “Thus, contrary to Clear Skies’ claim in its response to the Nov. 4 notice, there is no need for hearings to complete the record on deliverability.”
The PSC also denied CSOO’s request for an evidentiary hearing.
The PSC said the CSOO request was based on the theory the project won’t be able to provide capacity or deliver energy into the electric system, as opposed to challenging facts provided by Stony Creek LLC.
“In as much as CSOO raises no issue of material fact, but only an issue of interpretation, its request does not warrant an evidentiary hearing,” the order reads.
Stony Creek LLC is a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Invenergy. Representatives said the company met all requirements.
“Invenergy submitted a deliverability study to the Public Service Commission on October 27, 2011,” said Eric Miller, director of business development for Invenergy. “The study confirms with certainty that energy from the Stony Creek Wind farm can and will be successfully delivered to the New York electric grid, and that remains the case even if all wind projects in Western New York are operating at 100 percent of capacity.”
Officials on Friday said they don’t have an updated construction schedule.
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