Apex Clean Energy LLC will unveil the layout of its proposal to construct a wind farm in Somerset and Yates at a community forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Lyndonville High School auditorium.
The forum could provide area residents one of the most in-depth looks yet into the Virginia-based company’s plan to erect dozens of wind turbines in the rural communities, despite opposition from local governments and some residents.
An Apex spokeswoman declined to say whether specific details of the proposed project, such as tower height or locations, would be presented at the forum.
In July, the company said it plans to erect 40 to 50 turbines that are less than 600 feet tall. That’s a downsize from past project plans, which called for 60 to 70 turbines at over heights of over 600 feet.
Apex is planning to submit its application to the state Public Service Commission sometime this winter, according to spokeswoman Cat Mosley.
In July, environmental attorney Gary Abraham told project opponents that the entire siting process should last at least another 16 months.
The project has met intense opposition from some local residents. Common complaints are that the towers would sully the towns’ rural character, depress property values and pose a threat to human health and migrating birds.
This past January, the Somerset town board unanimously passed a series of zoning laws that ban all wind turbines above 200 feet in height and require that turbines only be constructed in the town’s few industrial zoning districts.
However, the project could move forward despite local opposition.
New York State Public Service Law gives a state-appointed siting board the authority to review and permit major (25 mW or more) electric generating facilities. That law states the siting board must consider all substantive local laws but could also waive any local laws that would prohibit the project.
Somerset town Supervisor Daniel Engert said the company has ignored local concerns, and disregarded four years of requests by residents to see the project layout. He questioned why the project layout document couldn’t be released without a community forum.
“The whole spectacle of hosting a public meeting to release (information) is to me somewhat questionable,” Engert said. “I think it’s a strategy to keep the public in the dark.”
But Apex has said the opposition ignores residents who support the project, including more than 100 landowners who have signed letters of support. The company has also highlighted the tax revenue enjoyed by other towns that have welcomed wind turbines.
“Apex is fully committed to the Lighthouse Wind project and to bringing significant economic opportunities to the towns of Somerset and Yates, their school districts and counties,” Mosley said previously. “We are bolstered by the support of more than 100 landowners, representing more than 10,000 acres, and non-landowners who see the benefits this clean energy project will bring to the area.”
Even the forum venue proved controversial. Apex originally scheduled the forum for the Ridgeway Fire Hall in Medina, and claimed to Yates and Somerset officials that other facilities weren’t available, according to Somerset Supervisor Dan Engert and Yates Town Board Member James Rigi.
Some locals were incensed that Apex would hold the forum outside of the host communities.
“You need to have this meeting in the town that you’re planning to put the turbines in,” Rigi said.
Apex later switched the venue to Stroyan Auditorium at L.A. Webber Middle-High School, 25 Housel Ave. In messages forwarded to Engert and Yates Supervisor James Simon, Apex employees said L.A. Webber had another event scheduled for Oct. 2 but later was able to find space for the forum, while Barker schools did not respond.
“It has been a very confusing and disorganized effort, and really underscores their clumsiness with public interaction,” Engert said.
The forum will run from 7 to 9:30 p.m., and will include presentations from a “panel of experts” and a community question-and-answer session.
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