LOWVILLE – The last two tri-county area wind farm projects in the Article 10 siting process – both with significant public opposition – have been withdrawn from the process.
Some community groups against these projects see the withdrawal as a triumph while others as a shrewd move to change to the new siting process they believe is less strict and transparent.
James A. Muscato II, of Young Sommer Attorneys at Law in Albany, electronically filed a letter to the Siting Board stating they are “no longer seeking a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need” from the siting board for the Mad River Wind Farm on Dec. 7, on behalf of Atlantic Wind, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables.
Mr. Muscato filed a similar letter for Atlantic regarding Horse Creek Wind Farm on Dec. 8.
Both projects received considerable push-back from local communities, land trusts, environmental groups and, to varying degrees, Fort Drum.
The reaction by the activists against these projects to the withdrawals has varied.
“This upstate NY success again emphasizes that these fights are winnable – if local citizens go about this in the right way,” anti-wind activist John Droz Jr. wrote in an email.
He attributed the Mad River pull-out of Article 10 to “good wind ordinances passed in both Redfield and Worth,” the two would-be host towns of the 88 turbine project.
In this project, the turbines would have been spread across the heart of the remaining forested area of the Tug Hill Plateau, known as the “core forest,” in the towns of Worth and Redfield. The project was expected to generate 350 megawatts of power.
Mad River has been on pause since 2017 when it reached the second phase of the Article 10 process, the “preliminary scoping stage,” in which the company was to solicit input on the methods and range of the studies to be used to vet the project’s environmental and other impacts.
Head of the River RATs – Residents Against Turbines – Ross Holbrook said he spoke directly to an attorney at Young Sommer, Laura Darling, who he claimed “would only give non-committal answers” to his questions about whether the withdrawal means the Horse Creek project is “dead” or if it would be resubmitted under the new Section 94-C siting process.
Mr. Holbrook criticized the new process during the public comment period on the draft regulations proposed, for limiting local participation and transparency.
The Horse Creek Wind Farm was proposed to be situated in the towns of Clayton, Orleans, Lyme and Brownville in Jefferson County and would generate 205 megawatts of power. It did not proceed past the public information period of the pre-application process when it came to a standstill in June 2016.
Atlantic originally filed its petition for the coveted Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need on Dec. 20, 2012, but the project was dormant until June 2016 when they presented their Public Involvement Program Plan.
The St. Lawrence River area project was slated to generate 205 megawatts of power.
Under the new siting regulations, projects already in the Article 10 process that have had their applications determined to be complete have the option to transfer to the new siting process using that application or, if they prefer the uniform standards and conditions of the new process to govern their application, they would have to supply any information required to prove they meet those standards.
Projects that did not have their applications approved as complete would have to submit a complete 94-c application if they transfer into the new process.
According to siting office spokesperson Erin McCarthy, the office is anticipating three Article 10 transfers this month which will be noted on its website, as well as on the Article 10 cue.
Mr. Muscato could not be reached for comment on behalf of Atlantic Wind and Avangrid Renewables.
Another Avangrid project on Tug Hill, Deer River Wind, was approved last year through the Article 10 process, adding 25 turbines to the 195 of Maple Ridge and 39 of the recently constructed Roaring Brook wind farm also situated on Tug Hill along with EDF Renewable’s Copenhagen Wind Farm with 40 turbines and Invenergy’s Number Three Wind with 31 turbines, totaling 330 turbines.
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