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Yates wind project filing quiet on locations

YATES – The deluge of documents filed by the perspective developer of a massive wind energy project in Orleans and Niagara counties don’t answer a major question.

Where are the dozen of planned turbines, potentially more than 500-feet tall, proposed to be located?

Check back later.

In the preliminary scoping statement (PSS) filed to the state last week, Apex Clean Energy, provides little beyond what has been laid out in public outreach.

Apex’s subsidiary Lighthouse Wind is still looking at a zone starting northwest of Lyndonville, running west to the north of Barker and toward the AES Somerset plant, where the 200-megawatt system would connect to the grid.

The project would require somewhere between 60 and 70 turbines depending on location, which would be on property leased by landowners.

Who and where landowners are isn’t included in the filing.

The PSS is designed more as a detailed account of what Apex hopes to learn in studies of environmental conditions, an account for its outreach in Yates and Somerset and a walk-through the Article 10 process used by New York to approve energy-related projects.

“In essence, the PSS will serve as a road map for the information-gathering that will be needed to support the conclusions (of a future application),” the report says.

It’s a heavy lift. The PSS acknowledges the project could have environmental impacts in both construction and operation. Those would be most significant on the farmland around the host sites.

Apex indicates it will have to comply with local laws and state regulations to ensure damage is mitigated to both land, nature and neighbors.

However, Apex believes the project would actually create a long-term benefit to public health. That is due to the replacement of coal power and other emission-creating energy sources and not using water sources for power.

One issue often cited by residents concerned about the project – the shadow flicker created by turbines turning in normal operation ­— is considered an “annoyance” by the filers.

According to the PSS, the first public contact was in February 2014 with Somerset Supervisor Dan Engert, with the Lighthouse Wind web site opened and updated several times before Yates Supervisor John Belson was contacted in July 2014.

The public involvement plan also details public meetings, an April 2015 forum at GCC Medina and office hours held at the storefront Apex opened in Barker.

Individual meetings with the Public Service Commission and Department of State staff on Sept. 25, with Lyndonville Schools leadership, Oct. 5, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Oct. 6, and Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, Oct. 6, are also noted.

Apex’s filing indicates that alternative means of power production will not be pursued, citing land use needed for solar and the state’s desire to move away from fossil fuels.

New York’s 2015 State Energy Plan, which calls for significant decreases in greenhouse gas and carbon emissions, is cited as a major driver for the project.

The regulatory process outlined in the plan cites not only the Article 10 certificate of environmental compatibility and public need, but myriad state and federal authorizations.

Studies or permits regarding the impact to the area’s bald eagles, its wetlands and waterways, roads and coastline will all be required.

Apex also cites the town of Yates’ 2008 wind energy law, which limits turbine construction to small systems.

If there was any question to where the town fits in the process, the PSS answers it.

“Because these provisions are procedural in nature, and would impose additional local approvals on the applicant, it is expected that these requirements will be supplanted by Article 10,” the report says.