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Cape Vincent officials urge tougher wind turbine noise standards

The town board has decided to submit its own recommendations to the state Public Service Commission regarding Article X of the 2011 Power NY Act.

Instead of simply endorsing a letter by environmental attorney Gary A. Abraham – most likely to avoid backlash from local supporters of wind farms who have accused Mr. Abraham of lobbying for anti-wind groups – the town drafted its own letter calling for tougher restrictions and more local control over wind development.

In a draft letter to commission Secretary Jaclyn A. Brilling signed by Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey, the board asked the state to amend Article X to require wind farm developers to assess low-frequency noise impact – a component, town officials argue, that will be “most annoying and unhealthy.”

“There is no way that A-weighted noise predictions alone can provide meaningful information regarding low-frequency noise. Contrary to assertions by wind developers, predicting low frequency, C-weighted noise is a relatively easy and inexpensive output from their analytical software,” the letter reads.

Stakeholders representing wind developers have argued that assessing C-weighted, or low-frequency, wind turbine noise impacts in addition to A-weighted, audible spectrum, sound analysis is an unnecessary expenditure.

Cape Vincent’s town board also reiterated its support of “home rule.”

“We much prefer that our laws, which focus on health, safety and protection, are earnestly considered before they might be supplanted by the Siting Board,” the letter says.

Cape Vincent’s town board argues that its local laws should be presumed to be “reasonable, necessary and reflective of community standards” and that it should be up to the applicant to “justify any request to dismiss a local law.”

And if a project is “forced on a community” by the state under Article X, town officials want the PSC to “assume responsibility for assessing compliance, resolving complaints.”

The town board also wants the state to require the applicant to provide copies of any financial agreements between the applicant and the municipality that may be necessary in order to complete the project during the preliminary scoping statement.

This way, town officials argue, the siting board, wind developer and local municipal entities would not waste resources and time on a project that does not move forward because of an unsuccessful payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement.

Supervisor Hirschey said the town board’s recommendations will be submitted to the PSC after town officials make last-minute tweaks.

The deadline to submit public comments on amending Article X is May 29.