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Wind company renews motion to have Parishville resident removed from state siting board

PARISHVILLE – Avangrid Renewables, the wind tower company that wants to build 40 500-foot turbines in Parishville and Hopkinton has again filed a motion to have a Parishville resident removed from the state siting board due to an alleged conflict of interest.

Gary Snell Sr. was appointed to the New York Siting Board on Electronic Siting and the Environment on Aug. 2, but the wind company, Avangrid, claims he should be determined ineligible due to a conflict of interest.

Avangrid filed a similar request on Sept. 5 that was denied by Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess.

“Our effort is in part about the fact that he did not disclose any of this obvious conflict to the Board,” Paul Copleman, Avangrid communications manager. “We thought it was appropriate to bring it to their attention as the integrity of the process requires, at a minimum, disclosure. He is entitled to his opinions and a role in the process, individually or through the local group he leads, but his actions are in direct conflict with the role a Siting Board member must play. He is supposed to address and balance the needs of the entire community, and rule in a fair and unbiased manner.”

It is worth noting that Snell is the chairman of the Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation, a local group opposed to wind towers removed from the state siting board overseeing the proposed project.

Avangrid claims in a Sept. 26 letter address to Secretary Burgess and Presiding Examiners:

“In fact, since the applicant filed its motion, Mr. Snell affirmed his leadership position in the group (CCRP) opposing the project; a group that intends to become a formal party to the proceeding once the Application is filed. Further, Mr. Snell has confirmed that he has pre-determined the outcome, stating to the Watertown Daily Time that there were no conditions under which he would support an industrial wind turbine project. As sufficiently demonstrated in our motion and supporting affidavit, State law and the integrity of the Article 10 process demand the disqualification of Mr. Snell as an ad hoc member.

Snell was allowed previously by Hon. Burgess to remain on the board. She offered him the chance to voluntarily step down, but Snell declined.

“At this point, because Mr. Snell has refused to recuse himself, the State Administrative Procedures Act requires that the Secretary or the Hearing Examiners make a determination with respect to the conflict; that is what we have requested,” Copleman said.

The siting board is tasked with overseeing the permitting process for power plants of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater. The board has five state-appointed members and two local members. Snell said was nominated by the Town of Parishville and St. Lawrence County. He would represent Parishville and Ernest Parker was chosen to represent Hopkinton.

The motion was filed by Young/Sommer LLC, the legal representatives for Avangrid.