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River RATS information session discusses wind project issues and answers questions  

Credit:  By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | July 28, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com ~~

WELLESLEY ISLAND – A father and son from a coalition opposed to Avangrid Renewables’ proposed Horse Creek Wind Farm encouraged people to challenge the project and monitor its development during an informational session Wednesday.

“We really need your support,” said Ross Holbrook, a founding member of River Residents Against Turbines. “We will be prepared to fight this all the way.”

About 60 people attended the presentation at the Tabernacle in Thousand Island Park hosted by Ross Holbrook and his father, Doug. The presentation informed attendees about the coalition, their concerns about the Horse Creek Wind Farm project, the state Law Article 10 law review process for energy projects and how opponents to the proposal can involve themselves in the review process.

“It’s important to me to focus on what it does to the community,” said Robert D. Tuke, a Thousand Islands Park resident who attended the presentation. “This is not an anti-windmill stance. This is a pro-community stance … therefore, I support (the group).”

River Residents Against Turbines, or River RATS, argue that the proposed 250-megawatt project planned for construction in the towns of Clayton, Orleans, Brownville and Lyme, could kill between 24,000 and 72,000 birds and bats, cause adverse health effects such as dizziness and cognitive impairment, interfere with Fort Drum’s radar systems and lower property values.

Ross Holbrook told the audience the group believes the project could also harm six wildlife management areas close to the proposed project area, including the Chaumont Barrens and the Perch Lake Wildlife Management Area, damage Iroquois cultural resources through light pollution and visual disturbances and contaminate underground aquifers by building the facility on top of the area’s karst topography, an eroded limestone bed with sink holes.

Avangrid Renewables, Ross Holbrook said, also failed to receive a social license, or approval for a company’s project based on its relationship with the community, from Clayton and Orleans because the developer doesn’t have a local office in Jefferson County; received scrutiny from Clayton and Orleans officials; and filed a lawsuit against Clayton last year. He encouraged the audience to submit comments to the state Public Service Commission through the project’s case on the commission’s website.

“I’m excited my community is taking part in renewable energy, but pretty sad to see a project that’s managed poorly,” said Rob M. Hoehn, a seasonal resident from Round Island. “I was so surprised about how the local community has been treated. It just seems a little bit disrespectful.”

Doug Holbrook presented a summary of the steps Avangrid Renewables must take during the Article 10 review process before the developer could build its wind energy facility, which includes filing a Public Involvement Program plan to describe its community outreach, filing a Preliminary Scoping Statement to provide more project details and studies and then filing an official application, which will be reviewed by the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. Avangrid Renewables and its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC, have only filed a PIP plan.

“I thought it was one of the most professional presentations that I’ve ever seen on that subject,” said John Cardamone, of Thousand Islands Park. “I hope they get a lot of support.”

Several audience members asked questions about topics such as decommissioning, turbine height, incentives for the developer and the federal government’s authority during the review process.

Both Mr. Hoehn and Colleen O. Hoehn, also a seasonal resident from Round Island, wanted to know what, if any, economic benefits Avangrid Renewables and its project could offer.

Mr. Hoehn asked about the potential for the developer’s project to create full-time jobs, arguing that the wind industry offers one of the largest job sectors in the country. Ross Holbrook said he believed the developer planned to offer about 10 full-time jobs, which the developer claimed in its PIP plan, but argued that the project could reduce tourism employment.

“To be honest, it felt like it was a lot of opinion,” Mr. Hoehn said. “I’d like to hear more about his data.”

Mrs. Hoehn said she wanted to know whether Avangrid Renewables would provide studies about potential health impacts, preserve water quality, create a decommissioning plan or provide a free or discounted energy to the affected communities. She said she was a renewable energy supporter and attended the meeting because she wanted to learn about how the community reacted to Horse Creek Wind Farm project.

“There should be a remediation solution to all concerns the community has,” she said.

A group of residents and business owners from the Thousand Islands region formed River RATS at the beginning of the year. The coalition claims it supports “realistic and rational” siting for renewable energy facilities, but argues that the Horse Creek Wind Farm does not meet that description and is poorly sited.

Source:  By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | July 28, 2017 | www.watertowndailytimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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