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PSC: BP cannot be forced to revise preliminary scoping statement for CV wind farm

BP Wind Energy will not have to modify its preliminary scoping statement for the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm even if the public objects to its contents, according to the state Public Service Commission.

“While the law requires a potential applicant to respond to comments on the PSS (preliminary scoping statement), it does not require the developer to adopt the recommendations made during the preliminary scoping phase,” said PSC’s acting secretary Jeffrey C. Cohen in response to a Jan. 29 letter from Cape Vincent’s town supervisor, Urban C. Hirschey.

A scoping statement is part of an environmental assessment of a proposed project in which the developer sets forth a list of all the potential impacts the project may have. The final environmental assessment is based on issues identified in the scoping statement.

The wind developer plans to submit its PSS for the 124-turbine, $300 million wind project in mid-March as part of a state site-approval process.

“After the developer has filed a preliminary scoping statement (PSS), any person, agency or municipality may submit comments on the proposed scope by serving such comments on the applicant and filing a copy with the Secretary,” Mr. Cohen said. “The developer is required to prepare a summary of the material comments and its responses to those comments within 21 days after the closing of the comment period.”

If there are complaints, BP would be expected to resolve these disagreements but not even the hearing examiner – who would mediate issues relating to the PSS – will be able to force the wind developer to identify additional potential wind farm impacts in its PSS based on community feedback.

“The hearing examiner does not direct the outcome of the scoping process,” Mr. Cohen said in his letter. “The hearing officer’s role during the PSS phase is, among other things, to distribute intervenor funds and to mediate stipulations among the parties, where possible.”

Technically, the developer could simply choose not to consider any of the suggestions made during the PSS comment period and proceed to the application phase under Article X.

Once a project application is filed, Mr. Cohen said, parties “may raise objections to the methodology or scope at the hearing on the application.”