In the corner of Lake Ontario opposite Somerset, a group of residents opposed to industrial wind turbines going up near their shoreline declared victory last week.
Apex Clean Energy, the Virginia-based energy firm that is seeking to erect 47 wind turbines in the towns of Somerset and Yates, on Feb. 8 withdrew its application to construct a 110-megawatt wind energy project on Galloo Island. Though the island has no year-round inhabitants, some nearby residents reportedly opposed the project, saying it could harm migrating birds and tourism, and lower property values.
Apex did not specify its reasons for withdrawing its application in either its media statement or its letters to the state Department of Public Service .
“We continuously review our development assets to maintain the proper balance of risk and opportunity in our nation-wide portfolio of development assets, and when adjustments are required we make them,” Apex spokesman Dahvi Wilson said.
Wilson added that Apex still plans to submits its application for the local Lighthouse Wind project sometime this year.
After the withdrawal was announced publicly, Somerset town Supervisor Daniel Engert urged Apex to conduct a similar “risk and opportunity” evaluation for Somerset and Yates, saying the firm would conclude its proposed Lighthouse Wind project also is not feasible.
Engert added that the state’s Article 10 siting process, which oversees approval of industrial energy projects, has historically honored the laws and wishes of local communities. Early last year, the Somerset Town Board adopted a series of zoning laws that ban industrial wind turbines throughout Somerset.
“If they had better understanding of New York’s history, they could save themselves a lot of time and effort,” Engert said. “They will not be approved as long as our community’s planning laws are honored.”
In recent months, the Galloo Island Wind Project application suffered several setbacks. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation recently discovered a bald eagle’s nest on Galloo Island, which Apex did not disclose in its original application. In response, state agencies decided to extend their review of the project.
Wilson said Apex planned to commission additional studies “to assess any potential impacts on wildlife.”
The delay may have jeopardized the company’s ability to take advantage of federal tax credits that could have lowered the cost of the roughly $200 million project. The tax credits are only available for wind energy facilities that began construction by Dec. 31, 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Last October, Apex publicly detailed its plans and schedule for Ligthhouse Wind. The company is planning to erect 39 turbines in Somerset and eight in Yates, each standing at a tower height of 345 feet and a maximum blade height of 591 feet. The company stated its plans to submit its application early this year and begin construction in late 2021.
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