CLAYTON – The developer of the Horse Creek Wind Farm ceased planning its project about three years ago, but it appears the effort is far from dead.
Iberdrola Renewables USA recently pledged to build at least 446 megawatts of new wind generation by signing on to the Obama administration’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge. The developer, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables in Spain, was among 81 companies nationwide that made energy-related pledges this month to take action on climate change.
Though Iberdrola’s 446-megawatt pledge does not call for any wind projects in New York, its 48-turbine, 96-megawatt wind farm planned in the town of Clayton is among several projects statewide that could still materialize, according to Paul N. Copleman, spokesman for the developer. He said the developer now has 500 megawatts of wind power under development with projects planned in New York.
“We remain interested in the site,” Mr. Copleman said Thursday, although he could not say whether the project could soon be revived.
The developer still has meteorological towers and land leases at the 9,450-acre Clayton site, he said, and the project remains actively listed on its website. The project has not had official active status since April 2014, when it was removed by the developer from the New York Independent System Operator’s interconnection queue. The queue lists wind projects actively being planned across the state.
Mr. Copleman said although some projects Iberdrola planned in New York have long been on hold, including the Horse Creek Wind Farm, the time is ripe to explore reviving them. Wind turbines have become much less expensive to build than they were three years ago, he said, and the trend could help make projects financially viable.
“We’re constantly looking at improvements in turbine technology and how that might enable us to re-evaluate sites, in terms of economic viability, that might not have been attractive a few years ago,” he said. “As prices come down and technology improves, we can go back and look at sites in a different way.”
When compared to the regulatory environment in other states, Mr. Copleman said, wind projects in New York face unique hurdles. The Article 10 review process, led by the state Public Service Commission, requires developers to make sure they evaluate for how local governments will react to projects.
“The permitting conditions and market in New York are important variables we’re looking at,” he said. “New York has a successful program to develop utility-scale wind projects, and the permitting rules have shifted a little bit over the time we’ve been developing projects.”
Iberdrola’s recent pledge to create 446 megawatts of new wind generation is based on projects in which construction is expected to start next year, Mr. Copleman said. Those projects are based in California, Colorado, Vermont and North Carolina.
As part of its pledge, Iberdrola said it will also pursue investments in transmission infrastructure in New York and across the Northeast to “support the integration of renewable energy onto the grid.” The developer said it plans to provide “enhanced transmission capacity between renewable resources in New York’s upstate counties and the New York metropolitan area.” Mr. Copleman could not provide details about those plans.
Clayton Town Supervisor Justin A. Taylor said the town hasn’t heard anything from Iberdrola about its wind project since 2012, and he’d be surprised if it decided to revive the effort.
The project stalled after Iberdrola notified the PSC in December 2012 of its intent to seek an Article 10 siting review. That process never started because the developer remained skittish about its plan. In the fall of 2013, the developer cited poor economic conditions and regulatory uncertainty as reasons for not taking action. It said it likely would have to secure a federal wind production tax credit to make the project feasible.
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