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Town of Yates’ wind focus turns toward Albany

YATES – With an at times acrimonious debate over a meteorological tower now in the rear view, Town of Yates officials began to look ahead to their – and their constituents’ – involvement in the state siting process for a proposed wind energy project.

As a large crowd of residents murmured their reactions to the council’s approval Thursday of an application to locate a 60-meter met tower on Donna Bane’s Marshall Road farmland, Town Attorney Andrew Meier began to read a second resolution.

It called for the state’s Article X process, the ultimate decider of what happens of the future for Apex Clean Energy’s proposed 200 mega-watt Lighthouse Wind Project, to not limit the timeframe for public input on a preliminary scoping statement for the project.

By statute, the state allows a 21-day public comment period after it is filed. The Town Council urged that be extended to 90 days for not only the Lighthouse Wind project but all projects under Article X.

“This town board strongly believes that a 21-day comment period following the filing of the preliminary scoping statement is completely and utterly an unreasonable and unfair period of time for concerned residents and the general public to digest a highly technical document and offer statements,” Meier said, reading the resolution.

It passed unanimously after the board split 3-to-1 on the met tower application.

The scoping statement, which Apex Clean Energy Development Manager Taylor Quarles said Thursday would be filed by his company later this summer, triggers two opportunities for local involvement in the state-controlled siting process.

Beyond the public comment period, Belson, Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard and their counterparts in Somerset and Niagara County will have two weeks after the PSS’ filing to put forward four names each for the special siting board.

The ad-hoc board, which would include five state-appointees, can be expanded by two members from the local lists – one chosen by the State Senate President Pro Tem and the Speaker of the Assembly.

“The whole thing is going through Article X,” Belson said. “It comes down to the five-member ad-hoc committee.”

Councilman Wes Bradley said ensuring an Orleans County representative is selected by the state legislator’s for the board is crucial.

“We’ve met with (Assemblyman) Steve Hawley, (State Senator) Rob Ortt, and told them to go with (Assemblywoman) Jane Corwin to make sure there’s a representative from each town,” Bradley said, “because there’s nothing in the statute for it.”

Belson said he doesn’t anticipate any issues with Callard’s choices, although supporting the same four people each would only reduce their chances if Niagara County and Somerset present eight names instead of four.

Those issues will wait, Belson said until the Apex filing is made.