September 24, 2013
New York

Cape Vincent officials air concerns over recent BP Wind visual impact survey


BP failed to include all residents in a recent visual impact survey for the proposed Cape Vincent wind project, leaving out women in particular, according to town officials.

In a recent letter to the state Public Service Commission, town officials said “many residents of the town of Cape Vincent did not receive surveys, particularly women.”

“It appears that BP may have sent surveys to predominantly male heads of households,” their letter said.

In an email to the Times, BP spokeswoman Amanda J. Abbott said the survey was “prepared for individuals and groups active” in Cape Vincent, Lyme and the surrounding area.

“The surveys were distributed electronically to seven local interest groups on Aug. 29. A mailing house sent paper versions of the survey after Labor Day to some 2,000 households in the towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme using a distribution list that is checked with the U.S. Postal Service,” she said Monday.

Cape Vincent officials also raised privacy concerns, stating in the letter that they found it “disturbing” that responses are “not guarded and protected, but are readily available for anyone to examine.”

“The first page of the survey has the cover letter and respondent’s name and address on the backside of the first page of questions. Furthermore, surveys will be collected at the local office of BP in Cape Vincent, where they could be accessed by BP leaseholders and supporters who frequent the office,” they said.

Ms. Abbott said the completed surveys were returned by mail or via the Cape Vincent office but “there was no exposure of household data.”

The town officials also suggested that wind leaseholders and “others that are paid by BP” be excluded from the survey.

“Residents receiving money from BP should not be included in the survey because of their bias toward BP’s proposed project. At the very least, those receiving money from BP should be identified as a classification in reporting the results so that we may compare their responses to those residents who do not receive money from BP,” their letter said.

Back in February, Town Council members asked the PSC to have leaseholders identified when they post comments on the state’s website for the Cape Vincent wind project.

“We believe payments to leaseholders and BP’s contract language requiring cooperation should at the very least separate and identify these project supporters from the remaining general public,” town officials said in the Feb. 12 letter.

Cape Vincent Wind Farm land leases and good-neighbor agreements include “cooperation clauses” that require contract holders to “fully cooperate” in the permitting and government approval of the wind project.

But wind leaseholder Harvey J. White said it’s ironic that the town board continuously attempts to ostracize leaseholders while criticizing BP for violating people’s privacy and being non-inclusive.

“It’s a double standard,” Mr. White said.

He said that the identity of wind project leaseholders is already part of the public record and that all have a right to voice their opinions, regardless of whether they have a contract with the wind developer.

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