The Western New York Public Health Alliance is requesting a thorough vetting of any future wind turbine projects approved by the state Public Service Commission.
On Tuesday, the alliance released a letter sent to Kathleen H. Burgess, Public Service Commission secretary to the commissioner, in June about the proposed by APEX Clean Energy to construct wind turbines in Niagara and Orleans counties. The Lighthouse Wind project proposes to build 70 turbine towers, which are anticipated to be about 600 feet tall, on farmland in the towns of Somerset and Yates.
The letter sent by the alliance accompanies a letter drafted by the Boards of Health for Niagara and Orleans counties. Other Western New York public health commissioners have also recently put their support behind the effort to highlight potential public health concerns with wind turbines.
“Classifying wind turbine projects under Article 10 allows them to be classified as Type II actions in the SEQRA regulations,” the letter states. “This classification allows standard environmental reviews under the Environmental Conservation Law, Article 8 to be waived. Under the Article 10 legislation, our local boards of health home rule ability to take steps to safeguard the health and wellness of our residents and protect the environment within our counties has been put at risk. What is the state’s position and plan to ensure that our residents’ health is protected and the impacts on our local environment have been reviewed and vetted through the standard state assessments for projects of this magnitude?”
The letter continues by asking the state PSC to have a complete and transparent vetting process, which will include all the standard environmental and health impact studies, and local input.
“The Western New York Public Health Alliance, lacking both the resource and expertise in this very broad matter, believe it is both reasonable and prudent to require a full SEQRA environmental review prior to any further consideration or action by the Article 10 Siting Board,” the letter states.
In Chautauqua County, the wind towers constructed in the town of Arkwright were expected to be turned on this week, said Fred North, Arkwright town supervisor. The Arkwright Summit Wind Farm turbines are all located in Arkwright and connected to the grid in the town of Pomfret. The wind farm will consist of four Vestas 110V 2-megawatt wind turbines and 32 Vestas 110V 2.2-megawatt wind turbines.
There is also the proposed Ball Hill wind project by wind company Renewable Energy System (RES). The 100-megawatt wind farm is being proposed in the towns of Villenova and Hanover. The Ball Hill Wind Energy project is a 100V wind farm with 23 turbines permitted for operation in Villenova and six in Hanover.
Last month, the town of Villenova approved an amendment for the wind turbines to go from 495 feet to 599 feet in maximum height, taller than any land-based turbines in the country. However, last month the town of Hanover didn’t approve the height amendment, which means the wind turbines in the town will have a maximum height of 495 feet.
The Western New York Public Health Alliance is a nonprofit organization comprised of the health commissioners/public health directors and other community public health leaders from the eight counties of Western New York. Their mission is to support collaboration across Western New York to further public health initiatives and priorities. As part of this mission, the alliance works to provide health education and information to prevent disease and improve population health.