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Galloo Island wind developer wants PILOT discussions tabled

WATERTOWN – The developer behind the Galloo Island Wind Farm wants to postpone further discussions for its payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement application.

David J. Converse, chairman of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency Board of Directors, said Thursday that the board received a letter from Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for the developer, Apex Clean Energy, asking to table PILOT discussions. Mr. Converse discussed the letter at the JCIDA’s monthly board meeting, saying he was notified late Wednesday night.

“(Apex Clean Energy) has asked the JCIDA to table our PILOT application for the moment,” Mr. Habig said in an email. “Much has been reported on Fort Drum concerns in recent days. We feel it is appropriate to give the parties an opportunity to digest the facts and reach informed and considered conclusions regarding potential base impact before engaging in PILOT discussions.”

Several local, state and federal law makers have expressed concerns about wind energy development proposed near Fort Drum.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday said his office will review the adverse effects wind turbines could have on Fort Drum’s radar capabilities.

The Jefferson County Board of Legislators on Tuesday passed a resolution supporting any state or federal effort to block wind energy development within a certain radius of military installations. The Watertown City Council Monday passed a resolution opposing the eight proposed north country wind projects, including the Galloo Island Wind project, for concerns pertaining to the projects’ potential adverse effects on the post’s training capabilities.

Last month, Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, said she was looking into state legislation that would prohibit wind energy development near the post and U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, sent a letter to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley with concerns about wind energy development near the base.

The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization last month also expressed opposition toward the eight proposed wind farms, stating the projects would inhibit military training and readiness.

Fort Drum officials previously said wind turbines affect military and weather radar, creating a potential “black hole” of visibility and producing false weather data. Officials, however, previously said they wanted to work with developers to mitigate potential conflicts.

Mr. Habig said Apex continues to work closely with post officials, adding that “they are the experts” along with the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Actions and decisions should be informed by the conclusions of these entities,” Mr. Habig said.

Apex Clean Energy plans to build 30 turbines on Galloo Island in the town of Hounsfield for its 108.9 megawatt project as well as a 32-mile underwater transmission cable that will interconnect with a substation in Oswego.

The JCIDA accepted Apex’s PILOT application as complete in September conditional on the developer providing a balance sheet, making minor revisions to the application and providing $25,000 up-front to partially cover application fees. The developer submitted its preliminary PILOT application in August, but submitted its revised application for review last winter.

“They’re still gathering information,” Mr. Converse said. “All he is asking for is to table the application at this time.”

In other action, the board reviewed Treasurer Robert E. Aliasso Jr.’s report and discussed companies that are behind on payments to the agency.

Lyle V. Eaton, chief financial officer for the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., said Bicc Brothers LLC, which owns Wayback Burgers, owes more than $20,000 in overdue payments on a micro-enterprise loan it received in 2012. The $40,000 loan was by another $40,000 matched by North Country Alliance, which Mr. Eaton said in March filed a judgment against Bicc Brothers. The company’s most recent payment was in September 2016, Mr. Eaton said.