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EverPower: Court ruling makes Allegany project in current form ‘unlikely’

An EverPower Wind Holdings LLC officials said Tuesday that a state court’s dismissal of an appeal to extend the company’s original permit could bring the proposed wind farm project to a halt.

Chris Shears, chief development officer for EverPower, stated that the Appellate Division’s dismissal of the company’s appeal was disappointing.

“We felt we had a strong case,” Mr. Shears said in a prepared statement. “We will consider our options in light of the ruling, but it is unlikely we will pursue this project in its current form” and may look to repackage the site for an application through the new Article X process.

Article X, signed into law in 2011, provides for the siting review of new and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities by the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment Siting Board. The unified proceeding would be used instead of requiring a developer or owner of such a facility to apply for numerous state and local permits.

EverPower’s $160 million wind farm had been approved in 2011 by the Allegany Town Board for the hilltops of Chipmonk and Knapp Creek. The project was initially delayed by Concerned Citizens’ lawsuit, which was dropped in July 2012.

In its ruling, the court said it dismissed EverPower’s appeal due to the company’s considered use of alternate wind turbines for the proposed 29-wind turbine farm. The court also rejected EverPower’s contention that a lawsuit filed by Concerned Citizens had made it impossible for the company to obtain financing for the project, thereby delaying it.

Mr. Shears said the wind farm would have provided approximately $12 million over 20 years to the town, the Allegany-Limestone Central School District and Cattaraugus County.

“This clean, secure project would have also offset harmful CO2 emissions while providing electricity for more than 17,500 homes yearly,” Mr. Shears added.

Kathy Martin, spokesperson for a local group advocating for the wind farm, Allegany FREE, said the news was also disheartening for her.

“The members of Allegany FREE are very disappointed in the ruling from the State Supreme Court,” Mrs. Martin said. “We were hoping for a positive outcome, as we feel that this project would be very beneficial for this community and the surrounding area.”

Allegany Town Supervisor John Hare had commented that the town was pleased with the court’s decision but had no contact with EverPower on its future plans. He said the town was declining further comment at this time.

Kathy Boser, president of Concerned Citizens, had stated the grassroots organization was grateful the town’s planning board did not succumb to EverPower.

“We maintain that the benefits EverPower espouse do not outweigh the burdens of this project,” Mrs. Boser said. “With EverPower now threatening to get approval for its project from a state siting board, which supersedes the town’s permitting process, the town now needs to ensure that its zoning rules are reasonable because if the siting board doesn’t think so, it will disregard them.”