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Iberdrola preparing to launch Article 10 process for Horse Creek wind project in ‘very near future’

CLAYTON – Iberdrola Renewables plans to begin the state-led Article 10 preapplication process for its Horse Creek wind project in the “very near future,” the developer’s attorney told the joint village and town Planning Board on Thursday.

Though it still aims to collect three years of wind-speed data from proposed meteorological towers, the developer plans to do that while it’s completing the mandated Article 10 siting process led by the state Public Service Commission for the project, according to Iberdrola attorney James A. Muscato II. He said the data isn’t needed to complete the permitting process for the still-undefined project, which is centered in southeast Clayton but expected to encompass a portion of Orleans and perhaps Brownville and Lyme, based on developer’s stated intent to put up meteorological towers in those towns.

“The project will pursue the first phases of the Article 10 process in the very near future,” said Mr. Muscato during the public hearing on proposed meteorological towers at the Clayton Opera House, which was attended by about 70 people.

Mr. Muscato and other Iberdrola representatives answered questions from the Planning Board about its proposal to put up a pair of 197-foot meteorological towers in the town’s wind overlay district. Under town law, the towers are a permitted use within the district. No action was taken by the Planning Board, however, and the public hearing was adjourned until its next meeting at 7 p.m. on April 7. Residents will have a chance to make comments at the hearing and may submit letters to the Planning Board in advance.

Based on feedback from the Planning Board, Iberdrola is expected to further revise its proposal for towers so that it’s ready to be considered for approval next month.

Originally, Iberdrola’s proposal called for three meteorological towers. The Planning Board rejected the plan for one of the towers in February because it was proposed to the north of the wind overlay district’s boundary, at the intersection of Ellis and Schnauber roads. Iberdrola still plans to put up a third tower by planning it within the overlay district, said town Zoning Enforcement Officer Richard Ingerson after the meeting. Plans for that tower are expected to be submitted soon.

The developer reacted to officials’ previous concerns by relocating one of the other proposed towers – on land owned by Gary Parker near the intersection of Morris Tract Road and Depauville Road – about 1,000 feet west so that it won’t interfere with a snowmobile trail. The other tower is proposed on land owned by the Parker Henry Group LLC, Chaumont, off Old Town Springs Road near the intersection of Route 12.

To comply with Planning Board requirements, Iberdrola recently updated a list that shows municipal officials who have leased private land to the developer, along with leases by officials’ relatives. None of those officials are on the town Planning Board. Notably, Town Councilwoman Donna J. Patchen currently holds a lease agreement made in 2008 with Atlantic Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola. Her financial interest in the property is estimated to be from $100,000 to $250,000, according to the document. Iberdrola collectively has about 30 private land leases totaling about 10,000 acres in the project area.

Donald Hammond, Iberdrola’s regional director of engineering, was asked by the Planning Board to explain how meteorological towers will accurately project wind speeds when they’re much shorter than the turbines that would be used. In response, he explained that the towers will record wind speeds at three different heights – 105, 154 and 190 feet – to get an accurate understanding of “what the wind type would be at the height they would actually operate, at a higher level.”

“The wind changes from day to day and month to month,” Mr. Hammond said. “Three years is the amount of data you want to collect to understand the operation over a long period of time.”

The developer appears to be planning a project similar in scope to the one it originally proposed in 2005 – except with larger turbines with the capacity to generate up to 250 megawatts of power. Instead of 2-megawatt turbines, the developer has said it would use 2.5-megawatt or 3.3-megawatt turbines for the project.

The original 130-megawatt project called for 62 turbines in the southeastern part of Clayton and southwest part of Orleans. The area spanned from the hamlet of Depauville south to the Brownville town line and east into Orleans, where eight of the 62 turbines were planned. Iberdrola downsized that plan in 2011 by removing Orleans from the project’s scope, establishing a 96-megawatt, 48-turbine proposal.

The Orleans Town Planning Board, meanwhile, will meet with Iberdrola at 7 p.m. March 15. The developer is seeking to put up three meteorological towers in Orleans.

Clayton Joint Planning Board Chairman Roland A. “Bud” Baril recently announced that he plans to resign his position soon, but he has yet to do so.