As Atlantic Wind LLC’s Horse Creek Wind Farm moves forward in the Article 10 review process, Town Board members are searching for prospective nominees to represent their communities’ interests as ad hoc members on the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.
In letters to the town supervisors of Clayton, Lyme, Orleans and Brownville and to Jefferson County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III on Aug. 25, the state Department of Public Service requested that these representatives nominate four potential candidates for the two ad hoc member positions. All municipalities and the county are listed as stakeholders for the project due to their proximity to the proposed project location.
“If the application is submitted, two ad hoc public members will be appointed to the siting board for the purpose of providing a local voice in the review of the project and decision on the application,” said DPS Secretary Kathleen H. Burgess in the letters. Representatives are required to present a list of nominees within 15 days of Atlantic Wind’s preliminary scoping statement submission for the project.
According to Article 10, the state Senate’s temporary president, John J. Flanagan, and state Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie will each select one member out of the nominees. In order to qualify for the position, nominees must reside in the area of the project’s proposed location for development and cannot hold any public or state office or a position within an electric utility corporation.
“Anyone in Jefferson County can be a candidate,” Clayton Town Supervisor David M. Storandt Jr. said.
The siting board consists of seven members who will decide whether to approve or reject the project if Atlantic Wind submits a formal application.
The five permanent siting board members include DPS Chair Audrey Zibelman, who will act as the siting board chair, state Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO John B. Rhodes, Empire State Development President & CEO Howard Zemsky, state Department of Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.
Under Article 10 law, the siting board can allow the construction and operation of electric generating facilities, including wind energy facilities, by issuing permits of environmental compatibility and public need.
“It seems that municipalities are not relevant,” said Orleans Town Supervisor Kevin C. Rarick.
While the developer has not yet submitted a scoping statement, multiple town boards are already considering potential ad hoc member nominees.
Mr. Rarick said the Brownville Town Council was able to reach out to two of its four prospective nominees. Mr. Storandt said the Clayton Town Council was able to contact a few potential candidates. Brownville Town Supervisor Richard M. Lane said the Brownville Town Council has reached out to one of its two prospective candidates.
“Everything is going forward,” Mr. Rarick said. “It’s just strange how it’s unfolding.”
Lyme Town Supervisor Scott G. Aubertine said the Town Council considered two potential candidates, but is still deciding which candidate to contact. “Two town board members said that ‘such and such might be interested,’” he said.
A few of the town supervisors are looking for candidates who are knowledgable on Horse Creek Wind Farm and Article 10 process. Both Mr. Rarick and Mr. Storandt said they are also considering candidates who participated in the discussions during public meetings.
“We’re looking for a more active voice in the community,” Mr. Storandt said.
Mr. Lane, however, said that due to a lack of volunteers, the Brownville council is considering anyone who expresses interest in the position.
“It is hard to get anybody to volunteer anymore,” he said.
While each municipality selects its own candidates, Mr. Storandt said he has reached out to the other supervisors to compare candidates and discuss which ones would best represent the towns.
“The real question is do the candidates have to be unique across the towns?” Mr. Storandt said. “We are really just figuring out who is the right person.”
Mr. Hagemann said he will collaborate with county representatives in the next two to three weeks to decide on the Jefferson County nominations.
“We’ll network with legislators in the area to get names,” Mr. Hagemann said. “We’ve done this a couple of times before with other projects, the most recent one being (the proposed Galloo Island wind project).”