PARISHVILLE – Gary P. Snell will retain his seat as an adhoc member of the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment for the North Ridge Wind Energy Project, according to a letter from Kathleen H. Burgess, the secretary of the siting board.
“I am very pleased,” Mr. Snell said.
Avangrid, the company behind the North Ridge project, initially filed a motion on Sept. 5 to dismiss Mr. Snell from the board, a body to review one streamlined set of permits rather than a mix of local and state permits for new projects. The Siting Board has five permanent members, mostly state commissioners, and two ad hoc members from the community where the proposed electrical generation facility will be located.
Mr. Snell is the chairman of Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation, an organization that opposes the construction of industrial wind turbines in Parishville and Hopkinton, where the North Ridge project is located. Because of this, Avangrid held that he had a conflict of interest.
Ms. Burgess wrote Mr. Snell after Avangrid’s initial motion, saying that the board had no power to dismiss him and the decision to recuse himself was his own. Mr. Snell declined to recuse himself and remained on the board.
This prompted Avangrid to file a motion on Sept. 26, asking for a decision under the State Administrative Procedure Act, section 303. The law says “Upon the filing in good faith by a party of a timely and sufficient affidavit of personal bias or disqualification of a presiding officer, the agency shall determine the matter as part of the record in the case.” Avangrid’s lawyer stated that Mr. Snell, as an adhoc member of the board, met the definition of a presiding officer.
In a brief reply to Avangrid’s motion on Tuesday, however, Ms. Burgess wrote “Mr. Snell is not a ‘Presiding Examiner’ as that term is defined in 16 NYCRR Section 1000.2(ad) as Mr. Snell was not appointed by the Department of Public Service. Therefore, the remainder of your assertions are inapplicable and the determination you request is not an appropriate action for the Department. As a result, the initial determination stands.”
Mr. Snell has maintained throughout Avangrid’s motions that he does not have a conflict of interest and is no more biased than any other member of the board.
“I am not anti-wind, or anti-green-energy, I am opposed to this project as it’s been put forward by Avangrid in these two small communities,” Mr. Snell said on Tuesday, while reiterating he was willing to listen to everyone who appeared in front of the board.
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