LOWVILLE – A public hearing will be held virtually Wednesday on Invenergy’s Number Three Wind Farm’s application for the “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.” The certificate is required to begin construction and a petition to allow “lightened regulation” of some of its business practices as a wholesale-only energy vendor.
The certificate approval process is primarily focused on allowing Invenergy to own and operate the Number Three facility by ensuring the company has both the legal and financial capacity to do so, that it is properly registered to do business in the state and has consent from the relevant municipal authorities for all necessary rights of way and municipal property use.
“Public need and authorization” were addressed and documented throughout the environmental siting process, Invenergy’s petition said.
Since filing the original petition in April 2019, the state Department of Public Service has requested additional verification from the company to fulfill certificate requirements including verification of the company’s secretary and president as well as its ability to fund the project successfully.
Invenergy also seeks to position Number Three Wind to be eligible to follow precedents for a “lightened regulatory regime” for wholesale electricity providers with precedents set since the 1990s.
“Number Three Wind will be an electric corporation engaging in the manufacture of electricity… even though it is structured as a limited liability company,” the petition said.
Number Three is a limited liability company, or LLC, registered in Delaware, created and owned by Invenergy. Both companies are based in Chicago.
The “lightened regulations” specifically cited by the Number Three petition involve oversight of the company’s financial management; the regulation of “affiliated interests” which are corporations or people owning 5% or more stock in a utility company; loan approval; approval of utility revenue use for non-utility purposes; and requirements for corporate merger and dissolution certificates.
Number Three claims that some of this oversight “could unnecessarily hinder competitive wholesale generators like Number Three Wind” by interfering with their flexibility in structuring the financing and ownership of their facilities.”
Despite the wind company’s request to skip the public hearing, the Department of Public Service did not approve the request.
Comments made at the hearing can only be on the topics addressed in the petition that was filed in April 2019 and subsequent documentation filed in the public record relating to that petition.
None of the issues already settled through the Article 10 process leading up to the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need approval for the 105.8-megawatt wind farm on Nov. 12, 2019, are eligible for comment in the virtual public hearing to be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, according to the notice filed by the state Department of Public Service on the public record on the state’s Matter Master website.
Invenergy’s petition for this certificate and “lightened regulations” and relevant documents up for public comment in this hearing have been filed under case number 19-E-0287 that can be found by clicking “search” at the Public Service website, www.dps.ny.gov.
The virtual hearing can be accessed online at www.webex.com using event number 179 034 6526 and password Feb17-6pm. To listen to the meeting by phone, call 518-549-0500 and use the same access code, according to the news release on the hearing.
People who intend to comment on the petition or lightened regulation request should pre-register by Tuesday by visiting webex.com using the event number and password for the hearing after clicking on “join” in the upper right corner of the screen.
Those who will attend the hearing via phone and would like to make a comment should also register by 5 p.m. Tuesday by calling 1-800-342-3330, using Case 19-E-0287 when prompted.
Detailed participation information can be found in the news release filed in the Matter Master file for this certificate request including ways to comment up to March 1 other than in the public hearing.
This certificate application is not the only movement in the Number Three project.
The Siting Board approved the wind company’s request to use larger turbines with longer blades without a public hearing because the change did not substantially change the already approved plans or fail to meet the agreed upon standards.
On Dec. 21, Number Three asked the DPS to amend its environmental compatibility certificate to reflect its intent to replace the 26 General Electric turbines with a blade tip height of 586 feet approved in the project with 24 Vestas V150 turbines with a tip height of 591 feet and blades with a span that is 47 feet longer than the GE’s.
“The 5-foot increase in tip height will require Turbine 41 to shift south by five feet to maintain compliance with local law property line setbacks,” the amendment petition stated as the only location change because of the turbine switch-out.
The reason given for the change is that the General Electric turbines approved in the environmental certificate are “no longer commercially available.”
The company provided new impact study results for visual and shadow impacts, according to their petition, that indicated those impacts will not be increased by the larger turbines. The Vestas also are not expected to create more sound impact on local residents, but the sound specifications for the turbines in the record were made confidential at Invenergy’s request.
A “Fort Drum Tip Height Review” was also provided to ensure the taller turbines would not interfere with the base’s operations.
Overall, the footprint of the project will shrink with this change because there will be two less turbines with their access roads and collection lines constructed than originally approved.
Number Three also requested a wetland permit and water quality certification for the project which is situated in the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg in Lewis County.
According to the advertisement Invenergy ran in two Johnson Newspaper publications at the end of January, including the Times and the Journal & Republican, the primary environmental impacts include:
— .66 acres of federal wetlands will be temporarily filled because of temporary road grading;
— 2.48 acres of federal wetlands will “incur temporary disturbance;”
— .62 acres of “permanent forest conversion,” which means deforestation or taking down trees, to be turn the area into federal wetlands;
— .39 acres of “permanent fill will result to federal wetlands.”
All documents for the Number Three Wind Farm filed in relation to the Article 10 process can be found on the DPS Matter Master website searching for file number 16-F-0328.
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