The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) reaffirmed on Thursday its approval to Baron Winds LLC to build and operate a wind facility in Steuben County.
The first phase will be located in the Towns of Cohocton, Dansville and Wayland.
The 242-megawatt (MW) Baron Winds project will be built in two phases. The first phase will be 166.6 MW and includes 33 turbines, with up to 26 turbines having a maximum height up to 650 feet, with associated electrical collection lines, access roads, meteorological towers, an operation and maintenance building, and a collection substation. The first phase will be located in the Towns of Cohocton, Dansville and Wayland in Steuben County. The facility will be located on privately leased rural land that could continue to be used for farming, forestry and other comparable uses.
As described by the developer, the project would have a major positive economic impact on the host communities, including creating 117 direct jobs in construction and construction-related services in the State, with workers earning a total of approximately $5.8 million. The developer estimates that the facility would generate 10 onsite jobs during the annual operation of the facility, with earnings of approximately $300,000 to $400,000, along with 22 construction jobs created specifically in Steuben County, with estimated earnings of $1 million.
Additionally, local governments will receive PILOT payments of approximately $25.7 million over 20 years. Host towns will also receive payments estimated to be up to approximately $12 million over 20 years under community agreements. Participating landowners will also receive payments under agreements with the applicant. In making its initial determination, the Siting Board determined that, with appropriate certificate conditions in place, any impacts to the environment have been avoided or, if unavoidable, mitigated to the maximum extent practicable.
“The petition for rehearing failed to make an adequate showing that the Siting Board committed an error of law or fact, or that new circumstances warrant a different determination,” said Siting Board Chair John B. Rhodes. “Appropriately sited wind farms, such as Baron Winds, provide clean and renewable energy and are essential as we continue on the road toward a zero-carbon emission electric sector by 2040.”
The petition for rehearing, submitted by three residents, challenged the Siting Board’s May 6, 2020 decision approving amendments to Baron Winds’ Article 10 Certificate on the grounds that the Siting Board failed to consider the potential enactment of a local law regarding heights of turbines. In its denial of the rehearing petition, the Siting Board said it’s not required to reevaluate projects for compliance with new local laws passed after issuance of a final determination, nor is there a requirement that the Siting Board reverse its decision or delay rendering a decision because a town is considering a new local law.
In addition to its rehearing decision, the Siting Board approved three compliance filings submitted by the developer related to conditions for construction and operational impact mitigation, including providing details on communication protocols with community members regarding construction plans, a plan to address complaints for construction and operational phases of the project (including specific procedures for responding to noise complaints), and providing $20,000 for recreational or aesthetic mitigation for the benefit of Loon Lake in Steuben County.
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