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WATERTOWN – Apex Clean Energy wants to restart tax abatement discussions for its Galloo Island wind project after receiving no concerns from federal officials about its project affecting military or weather radar, according to a company official. Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex, on Thursday told the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency that officials from the Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Association and National Weather Service reviewed the 108.9-megawatt project to determine whether it would affect the military radar at the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum or the weather station in Montague.
The federal agencies, Mr. Habig said, told Apex that its 30-turbine project in the town of Hounsfield wouldn’t have a significant effect on the two systems. With confirmation from the agencies. Mr. Habig said Apex was ready to move forward with discussions about its payment-in-lieu-of-taxation application with JCIDA officials.
“Nobody had voiced any concerns,” Mr. Habig said. “Nor were there any other frequency concerns.”
The project on Galloo Island is about 35 miles away from Fort Drum and the airfield runway and about 37 miles from the weather station in Montague.
Mr. Habig said the project’s distance from those facilities meant it would have no significant effects on their respective radar capabilities. The 586-foot-tall turbines are also too short to hinder military radar, which has a minimum vector altitude of 2,000 feet, or the weather radar. The turbines also don’t hinder military operations at their height, Mr. Habig said, adding that while the pilots pass over the eastern side of the island during training operations, they fly at about 6,000 feet.
Jessica A. Schultz, the radar program manager for the National Weather Service, said Galloo Island has a lower elevation than where the weather radar was built south of Sears Pond Road and less than a half-mile southwest of the Montague Inn, 6765 Sears Pond Road.
“We consider (Galloo Island Wind) radar-neutral. It would have a very low impact on the weather radar and won’t significantly impact our ability to” detect hazardous weather, she said, adding that DOD and FAA officials are in agreement with the service about the weather radar.
Apex previously decided to postpone PILOT discussions to give affected jurisdictions the time to research whether the eight proposed north country wind projects, including its own, would affect Fort Drum.
The developer made its decision after the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization took a stance against the eight industrial wind energy facilities and several state and local officials expressed concern, if not opposition, toward them.
JCIDA Chairman David J. Converse said Apex still needs to provide $25,000 up-front for application review fees, a financial statement and alter some of the wording in its application before it can be deemed complete. The agency in September accepted Apex’s application as complete with those contingencies.
“We’re looking at all of the information we can get to continue on,” Mr. Converse said. “We can’t make a good decision without all of the information.”
In addition to building 30 turbines, Apex plans to build a 32-mile underwater transmission cable that will interconnect with a substation in Oswego for its project.
“Fort Drum is dedicated to peacefully coexisting with wind turbine development, as we know the importance of renewable energy and that an economically sound north country is good for all of us,” post spokeswoman Julie Halpin said in an email.
“That being said, given the possible effects on our training capabilities, some wind turbine development could impose, we are very interested in working with municipalities and developers in the tri-county area during their planning process to ensure that any impacts are mitigated to the highest extent possible,” she added.
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