The law is a sore subject for some communities that have struggled at length with drafting their own rules governing commercial wind turbines. That includes the Jefferson County town of Cape Vincent. Some officials there say the law overrides the principle of home rule, of communities charting their own course and determining their own destinies with such major projects.
While at Fort Drum this week talking about biomass fuel, Governor Andrew Cuomo chimed in on another energy issue – one much more likely to strike nerves in the north country: the state’s new Article X law. Joanna Richards reports.
The Article X law creates a
streamlined, statewide process for locating power plants, including
wind farms. Companies can opt for local review of power projects or
can apply for review by the state Article X board, which allows for
input but not ultimate decision-making authority from local
communities that could host projects.
Governor Cuomo said the law is all
about striking a balance when it comes to new power facilities.
Cuomo (0:15): You need to site power
plants, energy plants, if you want to fuel an economy, pardon the
pun. And the Article X law, I believe, is an intelligent balance
between local input, but still a process that can be done, and can be
The law is a sore subject for some
communities that have struggled at length with drafting their own
rules governing commercial wind turbines. That includes the Jefferson
County town of Cape Vincent. Some officials there say the law
overrides the principle of home rule, of communities charting their
own course and determining their own destinies with such major
The town of Cape Vincent just passed a
strict new zoning law governing wind development. And it did so with
one eye firmly on Article X standards, which say the board can only
overrule local review based on “unreasonableness” of local laws
governing power projects.
Bob Brown chaired the town’s zoning
law rewrite committee.
Brown (0:22): As long as the Article
X board recognizes it was done for the health, safety and welfare of
the citizens, then they will not override the law. And that’s what
our intent was – to write a law that would not prohibit, but would
discourage, and that would not be overthrown by Article X.
Cuomo said home rule isn’t the only
value at stake in the debate.
Cuomo (0:15): I think home rule,
what we call home rule, is very important – where a locality
decides their destiny. There also has to be a reasonableness, because
we have to remember at the end of the day, we need power. We need
Cuomo emphasized the importance of
power projects to a healthy state economy.
Cuomo (0:12): You can’t say no to
wind, and no to solar and no to biomass and no to power plants and
then say, I want jobs and a thriving economy. That’s the balance we
have to reach.
Cape Vincent and potential wind power
developer BP are jockeying for control. As the new strict zoning law
was being developed, Cape Vincent’s Brown says, the town learned
that BP intends to try to override the local rules by appealing to
the new Article X process instead.
Brown (0:13): They sent a letter
that we were made aware of – they sent no copy to Cape Vincent –
to the Article X board, saying that they intended to pursue it
through Article X.
The Cape Vincent Town Council
recommended the Planning Board throw out a partial application for a
wind farm from BP. There had been no activity on the application for
over a year.
For North Country Public Radio, I’m Joanna Richards, in Watertown.
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