Avangrid’s decision to re-evaluate the scope of its Horse Creek Wind Farm project came out of left field for a few community leaders, and they criticized the developer for its lack of public outreach. Orleans Town Supervisor Kevin C. Rarick questioned why the developer didn’t tell the affected towns about its decision. The project looming over the town has played a crucial role in defining and dividing its community, Mr. Rarick said, and its impact warrants additional communication. The Town Council has debated potential additional wind energy facility regulations for more than a year and has considered adopting a new wind law.
The state’s electric grid cannot accommodate Avangrid Renewables’s Horse Creek Wind Farm at the current proposed scope of the project, prompting the developer to return to the drawing board and consider reducing its size.
A study from the New York Independent System Operator’s study revealed that the grid only has enough capacity for 120 megawatts of wind-generated energy instead of the up to 250 megawatts the developer filed with the operator for its project said Art Sasse, director of communications and brand with Avangrid, in an email.
David C. Flanagan, the media and community relations manager for NYISO, said in an email that grid upgrades and facilities would have been required to accommodate an up to 250-megawatt Horse Creek Wind Farm.
The results prompted the developer on July 31 to remove its project from the NYISO interconnection queue for proposed energy projects.
Paul N. Copleman, communications manager for Avangrid, previously said Avangrid reduced the number of possible turbine locations from its draft layout for its project from up to 72 possible turbine locations to 45 and made other changes for its proposed project, which the developer is applying to have built in the towns of Clayton, Orleans, Lyme and Brownville, based on feedback from the interconnection study process.
The Horse Creek Wind Farm has gone through different iterations and planning processes since 2005.
“This is all part of the normal multifaceted development process,” Mr. Sasse said. “Nothing is imminent and, in reality, not much has changed.”
Avangrid, formerly Iberdrola Renewables and part of the Iberdrola Group, still plans to participate in the state Article 10 review process for Horse Creek and eventually to re-enter NYISO’s queue to connect to the state electric grid, Mr. Sasse said.
The development team, however, doesn’t know when it will submit a preliminary scoping statement for the project, the next key step in the Article 10 review process for the developer.
“It means we will have to re-file the request/study for smaller transmission capacity project,” Mr. Sasse said. “We will simply re-enter the queue as before.”
The developer previously submitted an interconnection request to NYISO in Dec. 23, 2015, as its subsidiary, Atlantic Wind LLC, Mr. Flanagan said.
Mr. Flanagan said a developer enters the queue to participate in the interconnection process after it submits a valid request with the accompanying technical data and application fee or deposit. Developers in the process must agree to sell their energy through the wholesale market and either connect to the state transmission system or a “portion of the distribution system” that is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Mr. Flanagan said.
“The interconnection process involves studies to determine if the project can be reliably connected to the transmission grid and what, if any, system upgrades might be necessary,” he said, adding that “A developer also may re-enter the (interconnection queue) process.”
When asked whether energy projects would be impacted by the limited capacity that inhibits the Horse Creek Wind Farm, Mr. Flanagan said he couldn’t speculate on the limits that exist or what system upgrades might be needed because each project undergoes specific studies.
surprise and dismay
Avangrid’s decision to re-evaluate the scope of its Horse Creek Wind Farm project came out of left field for a few community leaders, and they criticized the developer for its lack of public outreach. Orleans Town Supervisor Kevin C. Rarick questioned why the developer didn’t tell the affected towns about its decision. The project looming over the town has played a crucial role in defining and dividing its community, Mr. Rarick said, and its impact warrants additional communication.
The Town Council has debated potential additional wind energy facility regulations for more than a year and has considered adopting a new wind law.
Mr. Rarick also said developers should have a time-line they need to adhere to earlier in the Article 10 review process, and he asked how long all four affected towns would have to wait for the developer’s decision after several years of planning.
“Just be upfront and honest,” Mr. Rarick said, adding that the developer, “just seemed like (it was) reading the whole script out of a playbook instead of participating with the community.”
The lack of information from Avangrid has induced anxiety among Clayton officials and residents when they have tried to figure out “what the next steps are,” said Town Supervisor David M. Storandt Jr.
Mr. Storandt also said he was concerned about the developer not fulfilling the commitments it made in its Public Involvement Program plan.
“The uncertainty and lack of closure has been a huge hallmark of the multiple iterations of the Horse Creek project,” he said.
The Clayton supervisor also questioned whether a smaller project could reduce its potential impacts and address community concerns.
The Town Board in May passed a “tall structures amendment” to its zoning ordinance, which requires property owners to obtain a special use permit for structures taller than 35 feet and an area variance for structures taller than 250 feet, in an effort to mitigate the potential impacts of wind turbines and other structures. Mr. Storandt said the board has explored additional possible regulations for wind energy development.
“The concerns are still there whether the project is larger or smaller,” he said.
River Residents Against Turbines has previously argued that Avangrid has failed to earn a social license, or approval for a company’s project based on its relationship with the community, because it’s community engagement was lacking.
Ross Holbrook, a founding member of River RATS, said the developer not informing the affected communities about its decision to re-examine the project’s scope directly or by publishing a notice on the Public Service Commission website serves as another example of its lack of community outreach.
“There continues to be a great deal of uncertainty,” Mr. Holbrook said.
The Jefferson County Legislature has focused primarily on other proposed wind energy projects in the county because those projects are further along in their development processes, Legislature Chairman Scott A. Gray said.
“We have been more focused on Apex and the Galloo project” because that one has moved further along, Mr. Gray said. Apex Clean Energy has proposed a nearly 40-tower project on Galloo Island.
In addition to Apex Clean Energy’s project, Mr. Gray said the legislature has also discussed Avangrid’s other projects including its Mad River Wind Farm in the towns of Worth and Redfield, Oswego County, and Deer River Wind Farm in towns of Pinckney, Harrisburg and Montague with a transmission connection in Rodman. The legislature has held several meetings with the developer and officials from Lewis and Oswego counties about these projects.
“I haven’t had one meeting on Horse Creek” with Avangrid, Mr. Gray said, adding that “We’re paying attention to all of these projects forward through these steps.”
CEO Donald C. Alexander said the Jefferson County Local Development Corp. has not heard from the developer in about three years when it was previously named Iberdrola Renewables.
“It’s not one on our radar at the moment,” he said.
Avangrid previously proposed to build 60 to 72 turbines, each up to 500 feet, for its Horse Creek Wind Farm project.
The developer also previously planned to construct meteorological towers, which are typically used for studying wind speed, wind direction, air pressure and temperature, for the project including three in the town of Clayton.
“We have one up in Brownville and not certain at this time when, where and if we will install more,” Mr. Sasse said.
Timeline: Horse Creek Wind Farm milestones
■ 2004: Developer installs first meteorological tower for the project.
■ 2005: Developer proposes first iteration of the project at 130-megawatts and with 62 turbines in Clayton and Orleans. Developer files project in NYISO interconnection queue in April.
■ 2011: Developer introduces altered version of the project at 96-megawatts and with 48 turbines in Clayton.
■ 2012: Developer enters Article 10 review process and proposes up to 126 megawatts for project. It also suspends project application with Clayton planning board.
■ 2013: Developer ceases planning efforts for project.
■ 2014: Developer removes project from NYISO interconnection queue in April.
■ 2015: Developer resubmits project to NYISO interconnection queue in December. Proposes up to 250 megawatts for the project.
■ June 2016: Developer submits Public Involvement Program plan for project for Article 10 process. Proposes 60-72 turbines in Clayton, Orleans, Lyme and Brownville.
■ August 2016: Developer submits revised PIP plan and responds to comments.
■ September 2016: Developer holds open house about project in Depauville.
■ July 2017: Developer withdraws project from NYISO interconnection queue.
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