June 1, 2012
Blogs, New York

Comments to the PSC from a practicing attorney and a resident of the Town of Madison

Pandora's Box of Rocks | pandorasboxofrocks.blogspot.com 1 June 2012

I write as a practicing attorney and a resident of the Town of Madison.
Horizon/EDP Renewables has applied to the Town Planning Board for a special permit to construct a 36 turbine project in the Town of Madison. Each turbine, a type never yet used in the U.S., will be 492 feet tall. Madison is the home of the first Wind Farm in NYS  – Madison Wind Farm. Horizon/EDP now owns this small 7 turbine project (328 feet tall turbines) located in a relatively unpopulated area on farmland whose owners live there and chose to live with the turbines.
The Town of Madison has no zoning or land use laws. Its Town officials are ill-equipped, professionally or by experience, to either approve or disapprove a project of such scope and magnitude. Horizon/EDP has “threatened” to opt into the Article 10 process if the Town does not approve the entire project.
I have reviewed the proposed regulations and, while they are certainly far more rigorous than the Town’s local process, these regulations will not necessarily protect those affected. In situations where local laws are inadequate (indeed, the Town adopted setback requirements suggested by the industry), the regulations should clearly recognize the principle, applicable state-wide, that a heavy industrial use such as this does not belong in populated residential areas. In our case, if this project is approved, over 150 homes will lie within 3,000 feet of a huge industrial machine. What assurances do we have that members of the Siting Board will seriously consider the character and nature of the community when making their decisions?
This is a thriving, growing community. Colgate University is only 4 miles away from the proposed project. What due diligence will the Siting Board be required to undertake to verify or question the assertions of the developer?
Horizon/EDP submitted a DGEIS, not even site-specific, that is riddled with misinformation and deliberately misleading statements, not the least of which is its characterization of the project area as largely rural and vacant. Their maps are a travesty.
If the State wants control over this process, then it should strengthen the law and the regulations to guard the public against such blatant abuse of process. An example – Horizon/EDP stampeded the Town into accepting the DGEIS because it needed to show progress by March ! or lose its place in the NYSIO line. The Town was unaware of this motive. The consultant who advised the Town has major ties to the industry.
If the State wants to take over the process of siting these ever-growing projects, the regulations that govern its actions, must be stringently written and strictly applied. The needs of those who live here should be given equal weight to the far more powerful clout of the industry.
I recognize that the State is encouraging the development of renewables in Central NY; however, it is short-sighted to permit the mindless destruction of thriving communities with growing clean, local businesses – brewing and hops cultivation, for example – in the name of wind power, which is arguably not as clean or efficient as one might think.
The State is pouring money into small business initiatives in Central NY. The regulations should compel the Siting Board to weigh these initiatives against the potential adverse effects of a massive wind project. Otherwise, money is simply being flushed down the toilet. Perhaps the regulations should hold the developers to certain efficiency and production standards. The going rate is 24 – 30% of capacity. Not a good track record.
Townships all over the State, Fairfield, Jordanville, Lowville, Richfield Springs and Litchfield, to name only a handful are engaged in lawsuits, making often futile efforts to protect what they value. We now look to the State, Article 10, the Siting Board and its regulations to act in OUR interests, not the interests of big business and corporate greed. How would the Siting Board vote on this project?

Jane Welsh
Jane Welsh P.C

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/06/01/comments-to-the-psc-from-a-practicing-attorney-and-a-resident-of-the-town-of-madison/