SACKETS HARBOR – The Galloo Island wind developer said Thursday he plans to build a transmission line to a substation in Jefferson County because National Grid hasn’t been receptive to his proposal for an underwater route to Oswego County.
William M. Moore said National Grid has denied his company’s proposal to run a 50-mile underwater transmission line to one of its substations in Oswego County because infrastructure there supports nuclear plants in the area.
Instead, the utility told Hudson Energy Development it would need to find a power station in Jefferson County that supports the 115-kilovolt line proposed for its 32-turbine, 106-megawatt project on the island in the town of Hounsfield. The island’s closest mainland access is Stony Point, six miles away in the town of Henderson.
The Albany developer hopes to soon reach an agreement with National Grid on the location of the substation. The deal would require approval from the New York State Independent Systems Operator.
Mr. Moore said several power stations in Jefferson County are being considered as interconnection points, with plans to sell power to the grid. But he declined to identify the stations.
The 59-year-old, who lives in Boston, is known in the north country for developing the Maple Ridge Wind Farm project in Lewis County.
Under the original Galloo Island Wind Farm proposal, Upstate NY Power Corp. of West Seneca had considered securing an interconnection point at National Grid’s substation on outer Coffeen Street in the town of Watertown by routing the transmission line through the town of Hounsfield. Plans never materialized for that route, which was met with some resistance from affected property owners. Noting the project had been stalled for about three years, the state Public Service Commission dismissed the application for the line in 2013.
Other 115-kilovolt substations owned by National Grid in the western half of the county are the West Adams substation, which serves most of southern Jefferson County, the Thousand Islands substation in the town of Brownville and the Lyme substation.
After an agreement with the utility and NYISO is reached, Mr. Moore said, Hudson plans to begin the state’s Article 10 siting process, overseen by the state Public Service Commission, needed to approve the project. Mr. Moore said he hopes the process will start by the summer.
The developer is seeking a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency that would need approval from the county, Hounsfield and Sackets Harbor Central School District.
A dispute already has begun over the PILOT as a result of comments made by JCIDA CEO Donald C. Alexander, who asserted it probably would be passed by taxing entities without controversy. County Legislator Scott A. Gray, in response, has contended that Mr. Alexander’s comments were exaggerated and said he doesn’t believe the Board of Legislators would approve a PILOT.
Past wind projects in the U.S. relied on the federal wind production tax credit, which expired at the end of 2013. But Mr. Moore said he is confident the project will stand on its own financial legs.
“Our current expectations about the cost of supplying power are based on real data points and actual cost proposals from both turbine suppliers and different cable suppliers and installers,” he said. “Secondly, wind turbine efficiency has continued to improve and the delivered cost of energy has continued to go down – nationwide and worldwide – as manufacturers continue to perfect the three-rotor wind machine.”
He said wind projects fail when they are not planned properly in the right areas. But he said he believes people will be receptive to the project after thoroughly evaluating it.
“We’re certainly hopeful of that, and that’s why we’re spending private money on this project,” said Mr. Moore, a wind developer for 20 years who served as CEO for Deepwater Wind of Providence, R.I., before co-founding Hudson in late 2012. “We’re confident that people will look at this project as a smaller footprint and decide our environmental impact is reduced. It’s a good place for a wind farm, and we’re putting energy into the grid and will be adding to the local tax base by making some regular tax payments as part of the PILOT.”
Mr. Moore said he has not decided on what particular 3.3-megawatt turbine will be used for the project, but he said they’ll be taller than the 410-foot, 3-megawatt turbines that Upstate NY’s plan called for. Though he declined to estimate how tall they could be, he said “they will be taller towers with longer rotor blades.”
A review of 3.3-megawatt turbines manufactured by Vestas-American Wind Technology shows they could be a height of up to about 638 feet tall with a blade length of about 179 feet, according to the company’s website. By contrast, the Vestas turbine proposed by Upstate NY had a blade length of about 144 feet.
Mr. Moore contended that while the 32 proposed turbines are taller than what Upstate NY planned, they’d have a “reduced visual impact” because there would be 50 fewer turbines than the original proposal. Upstate NY’s 82-turbine proposal, which called for a 50-mile overland transmission line to Oswego County, was too large for the public’s appetite, he said.
Mr. Moore said Hudson is now developing a visual assessment of the island by taking photographs to illustrate how turbines will look from different mainland viewpoints. He said that a visual simulation using model turbines will be designed to show people how viewpoints of the wind farm on the island will differ from Upstate NY’s project.
Mr. Moore said he plans to find out whether the Federal Aviation Administration will allow the turbines to be equipped with new technology to reduce the impact of lights on the towers. But he conceded the issue is “largely outside our control.”
“We might use radar-activated lighting so that navigation lights on the top would only be lit when there’s an aircraft in the vicinity. And hopefully they’ll allow us to install lights around the perimeter, rather than putting one light on every tower,” he said, adding that such a lighting scheme was used for the Maple Ridge project.
After reviewing the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental impact statement for the original project, Mr. Moore said he feels confident Hudson’s proposal won’t face any major hurdles.
“That’s why the DEC came to the conclusion this is not a bad place for a wind farm,” he said, adding that he will be required to evaluate whether larger towers will pose a greater hazard to birds and bats.
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