OSWEGO – Locals added their voices to the official Public Service Commission record about a proposed Lake Ontario wind farm running a cable approximately 33 miles along the lakebed to the city of Oswego.
Some expressed concern about the cable and possible ramifications of the proposed Galloo Island wind farm on area animals, while others pointed to possible jobs and opportunity created from the project.
Officials held an informational forum outlining the project and process at Oswego City Hall on Wednesday afternoon before a public statement hearing, coordinated by the state Department of Public Service.
About 20 people showed up for the informational session with a handful speaking up and giving statements about the project itself.
Those who spoke Wednesday were added to the official public record, with a “decision made on the entire record for these proceedings,” by the PSC to adopt, reject or modify the Galloo Island proposal, according to Judge James Costello.
Galloo Island Wind LLC and its parent company, Apex Clean Energy, have proposed to make the city of Oswego the end of the Galloo Island transmission lines, connecting to the greater New York state power grid from similar points as the Nine Mile Point and James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plants.
Oswego resident Carol Bain expressed concern about the windmills on Galloo Island and how it would influence the bird population.
“It’s in the flyway. I worry about the geese and the other birds,” said Bain. “They have land markers where they fly, and if we change them, what will happen?”
While officials spoke about how the cable would lie along the bottom of the lake and wouldn’t influence recreational fishing or shipping lanes during the presentation, Bain was still apprehensive.
“I worry about this cable. I don’t know if it’s been tested in our winter weather,” she said. “Will the polyethylene, will it kill the fish? Will it affect people? A lot of people get their drinking water from the lake, that’s an environmental concern for health.”
Richland’s Tom Halstead has the opposite point of view, calling the project “good for the area” with the tax base it would bring to area schools and towns.
A veteran fisher of Lake Ontario and also a business representative for the union Operating Engineers Local 158 with 4,000-plus members, Halstead said wind farm projects employ several of IUOE 158. He added that cables already run in Lake Ontario and he’s never had any issues recreationally.
“I’ve fished that lake for going on 40 years, and I’ve never once hooked any of the cables,” said Halstead, adding, “the engineering for this line looks safe. I was impressed with how they’re going to do it as far as directional boring along the shoreline to stay away from the fish beds.”
Galloo Island sits roughly six miles offshore in Lake Ontario, between the United States and Canada, near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. The island is part of the town of Hounsfield and developers seek to build 32 574-foot turbines, capable of generating 110 MW of power.
As part of the proposal, Galloo Island Wind LLC would construct a 115kV “point of interconnection substation” (POI) in the city of Oswego, at a 6-acre parcel on Mitchell Street described in the company’s application as “property located west of the existing Indeck-Oswego combined cycle natural gas power plant” on land that was formerly the now-defunct International paper factory.
Local man Mark Bosco noted that tourism is one of the most important industries in Oswego and Jefferson counties. He said from a visual standpoint, the Galloo portion of the project from a visual standpoint could influence tourism.
Officials said the next steps for the project include the evidentiary phase – which involves the applicant and other parties presenting their cases and possible rebuttals.
Eventually, the PSC makes a decision based on findings that include the need for such a facility, the environmental impact and whether it conforms to long-term electricity plans.
Costello noted prior to the hearing that statements could still be entered into the public record by mail, phone or email.
According to DPS, interested individuals who cannot attend or prefer not to speak at a public hearing have several other ways to comment about this case to the Commission. Comments should refer to “Case 18-T-0015 – Galloo Island Wind Transmission Facility Project” on the DPS website, www.dps.ny.gov, or send comments directly to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350. DPS also operates an Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120. This number is set up to receive comments regarding the Galloo Island project.
While comments will still be taken throughout the case, Costello noted that comments should be filed by Nov. 16 so parties have an opportunity to consider them.
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