March 6, 2018
New York

Developer pushes for completion status on wind farm application

By Marcus Wolf | Watertown Daily Times | March 6, 2018 |

The developer of the Galloo Island Wind project argued that its application should be deemed complete by the state entity reviewing it in its latest filing.

The Article 10 review for Apex Clean Energy’s 108.9 megawatt project has come to a standstill for three months after John B. Rhodes, who chairs the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment, which reviews large-scale energy projects, deemed the application incomplete and noted deficiencies in November.

Apex responded to the chairman’s more than 20-page list of issues with more than 40 pages of updated information, clarifications and challenges to some of his concerns, along with several supplements in January. Mr. Rhodes, who also chairs the state Department of Public Service, however, sent a second letter identifying only a few noise and environmental-related deficiencies he argued Apex still needs to address, prompting a subsequent response from the developer Wednesday.

“We submitted our response and we’ll wait,” said Neil T. Habig, senior director of project development for Apex.

In the second letter he sent to Apex, Mr. Rhodes said the developer failed to provide suitable mitigation efforts for the project’s potential effects on bats and raptors, but the developer and its attorney, James A. Muscato II with Young/Sommer LLC, argued that the plans are sufficient.

The chairman wrote that Apex’s application didn’t elaborate on what measures it would take to create an overall conservation benefit for threatened or endangered species, particularly actions that would help mitigate any “unavoidable impacts to bald eagles,” from turbines.

While the developer described plans to remove deer carcasses and prevent hunters from using lead bullets when hunting on the island, both proposed to prevent eagles from ingesting lead, Mr. Rhodes said those actions don’t help mitigate the loss of eagles from wind turbines.

Mr. Muscato wrote in the response that the developer included its net mitigation plan that encompassed several conservation efforts, include efforts to help save eagles, and project benefits in a separate appendix. The facility is expected to kill up to three eagles during its 25-year lifespan, the attorney wrote, but forbidding the use of lead bullets and removing carcasses would prevent six eagle deaths during that time.

“(The state’s disagreement) with the sufficiency should not be grounds for withholding a completion determination,” Mr. Muscato wrote, adding that it could be addressed further along in the review process.

The siting board chairman also wrote that Apex’s application doesn’t follow the requirements established in section 68 of state public service law, which provides guidelines for obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the commission, but Mr. Muscato and Apex were confused by the chairman’s claim.

Mr. Muscato told the Times Monday that he understood the Article 10 review process preempts the requirements from section 68 and includes a summation of the requirements established in that section of the law. After Mr. Rhodes’s comment, however, Mr. Muscato said he wanted clarification on the proper procedures.

“The open question is about the interpretation between the Public Service Commission’s jurisdiction under section 68 and the siting board’s jurisdiction under Article 10,” Mr. Muscato said, adding that they will follow “whatever process the board is telling us is right and whatever way the board wants us to proceed.”

The siting board chairman also asked Apex to provide additional details on sound, which Apex and Mr. Muscato provided in the response letter.

“Apex’s response is under review and a response will be forthcoming once the review is finished,” the siting board said in a background statement.

Apex plans to build 30 turbines on Galloo Island as well as a 32-mile underwater transmission cable that will interconnect with a substation in Oswego.

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