SOMERSET – Some residents are questioning why Apex Clean Energy/Lighthouse Wind has not yet signed the New York State Attorney General’s Office code of conduct for wind energy developers.
Apex said the reason it hasn’t is that the code was drafted before Article 10 of the state’s Public Service Law took effect. Article 10 creates a state board that oversees wind energy development, something that has limited the amount of say local governments have in the approval of such projects, giving that board the bulk of the decision-making.
So, because of Article 10, Apex said it believes that many of the concerns raised by the original code of conduct agreement are “severely diminished or do not apply,” according to a statement issued on the company’s website.
In a memorandum submitted on behalf of Apex by its attorney, James Muscato, the company said, “The Code of Conduct agreement is generally focused on the now limited role local municipalities will play in the permitting of wind farm projects in light of the centralized state supervised Article 10 process.”
A section of the code would require Apex to disclose the names of any municipal official or their family member who would financially benefit from the company’s wind farm development. To comply with the code, Apex would have to list the full name of the official or relative and the nature and scope of their financial interest, and submit the information to the state Attorney General’s office, as well as list the information on the company’s website.
In response to the memo, the attorney general’s office sent a letter indicating that certain local project requirements remain subject to local approval outside of the Article 10 process. Some of these actions include special-use permits of meteorological towers and the taxing of wind projects within the town, said Kate Kremer, a member of the board of directors of Save Ontario Shores, Inc.
Save Ontario Shores and the towns of Somerset and Yates have been requesting that Apex sign the code of conduct since early 2015, according to Kremer.
“Apex has been telling us all along that they will sign the code of conduct once they have received it,” Kremer said. “So citizens are wondering why they haven’t signed it.”
Apex received a revised 2016 code of conduct for wind farm development on Feb. 8. After a review, Apex said it “looks forward to signing a code of conduct when it is offered by the attorney general.”
“The Attorney General’s Office has recently provided Lighthouse Wind and other wind developers in New York with an updated code of conduct agreement to review,” the company said. “The Attorney General’s Office has updated the code from the previous version to incorporate changes associated with Article 10. Lighthouse Wind and the attorney general are currently discussing corrections and clarifications to the new code, and following these revisions we anticipate executing the new code.”
Regardless of the status of the code of conduct, Lighthouse Wind said it is complying with most of the code by asking in leasing documents whether any participating landowners are municipal officials. If so, those participants would be required to complete a municipal officer disclosure form.
If any official’s participation is a conflict of interest, Apex said it would expect that the person would recuse themselves from any vote on matters involving the project.
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