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JCC to host energy law forum

Jefferson Community College will host a public forum Thursday on the state’s Article X energy law – a 2011 rule that allows the state to override municipal zoning laws for the siting of electrical energy generation facilities with more than 25 megawatts. The two-hour forum, which is free, will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Jules Center Amphitheater, Room 6-002, at JCC off Coffeen Street. Presenting the benefits of Article X that evening will be Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill, D-Kingston, state Assembly Energy Committee chairman. Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, a member of the Energy and Economic Development committees who voted against the measure, will shed light on the law’s downsides.

Raymond E. Petersen, a JCC political science professor and Center for Community Studies director, will be the moderator.In Jefferson County, Article X has become a center of controversy because of wind farm projects proposed in the towns of Cape Vincent, Clayton, Orleans and Lyme. While welcomed by pro-wind groups – who fear that strict local zoning laws would kill these multimillion-dollar, renewable-energy projects – Article X drew criticism from not only opponents of wind development but also area politicians who believe the state should respect municipal “home rule.”

While some details on the 12-month permitting process have yet to surface, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had said local communities will have a say in the siting processes. Mr. Petersen, whose 1990 doctoral dissertation was on New York state’s energy policy, said the state saw an incredible level of civic engagement when the first two iterations of the state-controlled energy rule were introduced in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Article X forum is the first in a series of presentations on civic engagement sponsored by the Center for Community Studies. For more information, call Mr. Petersen at the Center for Community Studies at 786-2488.