ELLENBURG – The Bull Run Wind Energy project proposed for the Northern Tier will be the first local wind project to seek approval through the state’s Article 10 process.
Chicago-based Invenergy proposes construction of an up-to-300-megawatt wind farm with between 50 and 100 wind turbines, to be located in the towns of Clinton, Ellenburg, Altona and Mooers.
As part of Invenergy’s Public Involvement Plan, the company held a recent open house at Northern Adirondack Central School. That included a presentation by Bull Run Lead Developer Eric Miller and the firm’s legal representative, John Dax.
Article 10 was enacted in 2011 to be a portion of the New York State Public Service Law. It empowers the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) to issue Certificates of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need authorizing the construction and operation of major electric generating facilities.
Previous projects, including the five wind farms already in operation in the Northern Tier, were approved by local municipal planning departments, including the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
“It (Article 10) is a more rigorous, more comprehensive review process that is overseen by the state rather than by local governments,” Dax said.
The open house and previous meetings with the four town councils are part of the Public Involvement Plan that Invenergy filed with the New York State Department of Public Service in June.
The goal is to identify stakeholders in order to keep them informed of developments and address their concerns. This part of the process has to last at least 150 days, after which Invenergy can file a Preliminary Scoping Statement.
Dax said that will include all of the concerns that need to be examined by the Siting Board, such as environmental impacts. It allows all interested parties to submit comments on which studies should be included in the company’s formal application.
That application is the equivalent of the Environmental Impact Statement that is part of the State Environmental Quality Review Act process, Dax said, only more formal and comprehensive.
He said one unique part of the Article 10 process requires the developer to provide funds for municipalities and other interested parties to hire experts for independent studies as part of the review process. Distribution of those funds will be managed by the Siting Board’s Hearing Administrator.
That starts a formal review by the Siting Board, which has five permanent members and two representatives from the municipalities where the project is proposed, the latter to be chosen by the Governor’s Office from a list submitted by local government officials.
The five permanent members of the Siting Board are the chairman of the Department of Public Service, who serves as chairperson. The others are the commissioners of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the State Department of Health, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Empire State Development.
The permanent members may designate an alternate to serve with respect to all proceedings provided that such designation is in writing and filed with the chairperson.
The Siting Board conducts public review hearings that should take up to a year, Dax said. It would then issue a decision as to whether the application is complete, should be modified or should be rejected.
If approved, the company has to submit compliance filings that show in engineering detail that the project would meet the standards set forth in the certificate issued by the Siting Board.
In the meantime, Invenergy would also be working to complete transmission studies on how the project would connect to the state’s electrical grid.
“We’re targeting January of 2018 to have our transmission study complete,” Miller said. “That would put us in position to start construction in May 2018.”
Invenergy has set up an office at 5591 Route 11 in the Town of Ellenburg. For more information, visit bullrunwind.com.
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