It has been 3-1/2 years now since Apex Clean Energy held its first and only public information meeting at the Barker Fire Hall on April 1, 2015. Since that day there has been no divulging of Lighthouse Wind project details to the public. What residents have learned, however, is that Apex employs slick and deceptive practices.
Apex’s own January 2015 Public Involvement Plan filed on the Department of Public Service website called for multiple information sessions on such topics as the grid, turbine technology, and more. Apex’s elaborate descriptions included “local workshops on turbine technology,” “a review of the specifications of models proposed for this project currently,” and “interactive sessions on what the community will see during and after construction.” To be clear, these or any other information sessions were never offered or publicized at any time.
Apex’s own Preliminary Scoping Statement filed in November 2016 was deemed “deficient” by the DPS, but never resubmitted for corrections or omissions. Responses to public questions about their PSS were glossed over or completely ignored.
Apex held onto landowner leases, keeping them under wraps, sometimes for many months, before they were publicly registered at Niagara or Orleans county offices.
Apex had to be publicly pressured for much of 2015 to actually sign New York State’s Wind Code of Conduct, in March of 2016. Municipal employees with Apex contracts had not been publicly disclosed as per this state requirement.
Apex sued the Town of Somerset Planning Board over met tower placement, forcing the town to spend funds for legal defense.
An Apex paid lobbyist, Bo Shuff, presented false information about Save Ontario Shores and town residents in a presentation to the Buffalo Sierra Club. Three individuals present from Somerset subsequently filed affidavits to Attorney General Schneiderman regarding the false statements made.
Another lobbyist and former Apex executive, Dave Belote, was portrayed as a military spokesman who endorsed the coexistence of industrial wind turbines and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Belote had actually worked for DC lobby firm Cassidy and Associates.
In a surprise move Apex forced the Town of Somerset to relocate a public hearing because they had imported union members from Buffalo to occupy the limited seats for residents.
Apex’s Taylor Quarles was a no-show to present info on met tower inspection data to Somerset Planning Board, as required by the special use permit.
At an Orleans County Sportsmen’s event, when directly questioned, Apex biologist Dave Phillips denied a May 2015 letter addressed to him from US Fish & Wildlife Service about the service’s recommended industrial wind turbine setbacks from Lake Ontario shoreline.
Apex has used questionable methods to get reluctant landowners to sign leases.
Apex CEO Goodwin has ignored letters from Somerset Supervisor Engert and Yates Supervisor Simon to meet.
Apex spokesman Williamson lied to Yates Town Supervisor Simon that Apex “was denied” access to Barker or Lyndonville venues for this upcoming Oct. 2 “forum,” his rationale for originally having the event scheduled in the town of Ridgeway. (Apex’s forum was hastily relocated to Lyndonville.)
Apex has failed to divulge critical project details to the general public for over four years.
It is only now, scheduled for Oct. 2, 2018, that Apex is having its second public information meeting to “unveil” the Lighthouse Wind project. But wait, according to the article in the Union-Sun & Journal, “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.”
Is it any wonder, then, that this developer has no credibility? What will we hear and see? Can it be believed? We have seen and heard enough misinformation and obfuscation from Apex Clean Energy and want no part of its industrial wind turbines in Somerset and Yates. And that’s the truth.
Christine Bronson of Barker is a member of the Somerset town council.
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