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Invenergy discusses project at open houses

JASPER – Even though the start of the school year is roughly two weeks away, the Jasper-Troupsburg Central School parking lot was still packed Monday evening as Invenergy held the first of two open houses regarding a new wind project.

Representatives from Invenergy were on hand to discuss the Canisteo Wind Energy Center, a proposed project that’s currently planned to feature up to 90-140 turbines producing 290.7 megawatts.

The Canisteo Wind Energy Center would tentatively involve the Towns of Cameron, Canisteo, Jasper, Greenwood, Troupsburg and West Union. Should the project become a reality it would mark the second wind project by Invenergy in the area after the 10-turbine Marsh Hill Wind Farm in Jasper.

Monday’s open house was the first of two Invenergy planned for this week – another was held at Canisteo-Greenwood Central School Tuesday morning.

Eric Miller, director of business development at Invenergy, said that the open house events are a great way to inform the public about the company’s plans.

“We need to get the word out to people who live in the area and make sure they know about the Article 10 process that we’re starting and submit comments,” Miller said, “have an idea where the turbines are going to be. Lots of times there’s landowners who’ve been waiting a long time and they want to see what things are going to be.”

The “Article 10” Miller is referring to is part of the state’s Public Service Law, which was passed in August 2011 and put forth guidelines for companies who plan on installing what the state’s Public Service Commission calls a “major electric generating facility.”

Article 10 requires companies to study the environmental and public health impact of a project as well as environmental justice, public safety and any local laws that may be in effect. Companies must also provide intervenor funds for concerned municipalities or individuals to hire experts for independent studies of their own.

Miller noted that while the company is still working to figure out the benefits of open houses over Town Board meetings, the open house format does allow for more direct communication with citizens.

“We’re figuring that out,” Miller said. “I think one of the benefits of doing it this way is people are more comfortable coming up and having one-on-one conversations. That’s one of the reasons we do it this way and have people standing around. People really want to see maps and that’s why we come up with these gigantic maps to show everybody as well.

“The Town Board meetings also have good means as well, they all have their purposes.”

After the open houses, Invenergy will continue to work with local officials and get their feedback as well as landowners who may be interested in the project.

The next official step for the company would be to submit a Preliminary Scoping Statement which would indicate that Invenergy is indeed interested in making an application under Article 10. Miller said that the company hopes to have the statement ready by early 2017 with the project up and running by 2020.

“This project has been in the back burner for a long time and we’re moving it forward,” Miller said. “Things are really starting to happen. The state has came out with a Public Service Commission order you might have seen recently and we were anticipating that and had been preparing maps. The timing is good so now we’re going to pick up the speed and get those state requirements … the message is it’s moving ahead.”

Those who were unable to attend the open houses this week can find much of the information presented by Invenergy representatives on the Canisteo Wind Energy Center website, canisteowind.com.