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Redfield hires lawyer to help during wind farm siting process  

So far, people attending previous meetings about the wind farm proposal have voiced pros and cons concerning the project. National Weather Service officials are concerned the project would interfere with collecting data for local weather forecasts by the radar station in Montague. People living in the area worry about the turbines possibly leaking oil or antifreeze into the ground, which contains an aquifer that feeds the Salmon River and Redfield Reservoir. Some others have voiced concern about what the turbines might do to the pristine forest surrounding them. Dan Prokupets, the head forester with WoodWise, told those at the July 25 meeting that this is one of the most beautiful areas of the state and Redfield “is the most important town we deal with in New York state. ... The beauty of this area is remarkable and we want to do what’s right for the town.”

Credit:  By Debra J. Groom | Livingston County News | August 4, 2017 | www.thelcn.com ~~

A Syracuse lawyer with an environmental background was hired by the town of Redfield July 25 to represent the town during the Mad River Wind Farm siting procedure.

Melody Westfall, owner of the Scalfone Law Firm, will advise the town during the procedure and help the town board and residents understand all that goes into planning and building a wind turbine farm.

The board also transferred $50,000 for legal research and work to be done on the proposed wind farm project. Town Supervisor Tanya Yerdon said this doesn’t mean all this money will be spent – she added anything not spent would go back into the regular town fund.

Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Spanish energy company Iberdrola, is proposing a 350-megawatt project that would consist of the construction of up to 125 wind turbines in Redfield and the town of Worth in Jefferson County. The company states the turbines would cover about a 200-acre footprint within about 20,000 acres of working forest it has leased from Salmon River Timberlands LLC, which is part of WoodWise Land Co.

Electricity from the turbines would be transmitted along the Volney-Marcy 345 kilovolt line. According to a state Department of Environmental Conservation report, the Mad River Wind Farm “is expected to produce enough electricity to meet the average annual consumption of approximately 60,000 households, based on an average annual electricity consumption for a New York state residential utility customer of 10.932 megawatt hours.”

About 30 people attended a special meeting July 25 held by the Redfield Town Board. The board answered questions about the proposed wind farm, listened to a brief presentation by a forester with WoodWise and then voted to hire Westfall as its lawyer for the wind farm project.

“We simply are trying to learn the process,” Yerdon told those at the meeting. “We are trying to learn the pros and cons. We need representation for the whole Article 10 process.”

The project will go through an Article 10 siting review. Article 10 provides for the siting review of new and repowered or modified major electric generating facilities in the state by the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. The Article 10 law states this is a more unified proceeding, noting in the past, developers had to apply for numerous state and local permits to put up electric generating operations.

Right now, Avangrid Renewables has filed a Public Involvement Program plan, the first step in the Article 10 siting process. The PIP plan identifies the activities to educate, inform and involve the public in the Article 10 process.

After the PIP is submitted and reviewed, the company must supply a Preliminary Scoping Statement, “which, among other things, describes the proposed facility and environmental setting; identifies initial potential significant and adverse environmental or health impacts; identifies the proposed studies to evaluate potential impacts and measures to avoid or mitigate adverse impacts; identifies reasonable alternatives; and identifies applicable State and Federal requirements and other information as required for the project,” according to the Article 10 regulations.

After that, an application for the project is filed. A decision usually is made on the project within a year after the application is filed, according to the Article 10 regulations.

Yerdon said the town board has not taken an official stand on the wind farm project. It is still early in the proposal’s timeline and the board simply wants to learn as much about wind farms, the process for siting one and all the benefits and disadvantages of having one in the town.

Yerdon explained a separate lawyer was needed because the town attorney doesn’t have the time to do all the research and work concerning the wind farm. Also, it is best to have a lawyer with some expertise in wind farm matters to help with the process, she said.

Town board members Elaine Yerdon and Erwin Webb both said they were impressed with Westfall when she presented information about herself to the board.

So far, people attending previous meetings about the wind farm proposal have voiced pros and cons concerning the project. National Weather Service officials are concerned the project would interfere with collecting data for local weather forecasts by the radar station in Montague. People living in the area worry about the turbines possibly leaking oil or antifreeze into the ground, which contains an aquifer that feeds the Salmon River and Redfield Reservoir.

Some others have voiced concern about what the turbines might do to the pristine forest surrounding them. Dan Prokupets, the head forester with WoodWise, told those at the July 25 meeting that this is one of the most beautiful areas of the state and Redfield “is the most important town we deal with in New York state. … The beauty of this area is remarkable and we want to do what’s right for the town.”

The state DEC report states the proposed project will have positive impact on employment in the area, specifically by generating temporary construction employees that most likely would be drawn from Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis and Onondaga counties.

The report states workers to be needed include equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, electricians, carpenters and ironworkers, and about 350 or more temporary positions over 12 to 18 months of construction would be needed.

The wind farm itself would hire about 20 permanent full-time workers, including a plant manager, wind technicians and a project administrator.

The town board members said they vow to do all the research and work possible to make the right decisions for the town concerning the wind farm proposal.

“This is the biggest project this town is going to take on,” said town board member Carla Bauer. “I’m going to fight for the people.”

[rest of article available at source]

Source:  By Debra J. Groom | Livingston County News | August 4, 2017 | www.thelcn.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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