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State approves shift for two turbines in Number Three Wind project

LOWVILLE – A third amendment to the Number Three Wind project was approved Monday by the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.

The petition to amend the project’s Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need again was filed on Oct. 4, seeking approval to “shift” two of the turbines, one by 100 feet and the other by 58 feet, to “avoid impacts to a wetland conservation easement” but also to avoid delays in construction.

The turbines will be accessible off Route 12 between Humphrey and Number Three roads.

While both turbines were slated for a 100-foot shift, Number Three Wind said in its petition that the state Department of Agriculture and Markets requested it be reduced to minimize the impact on agriculture.

Although the petition did not initially contain all of the information the Siting Board required to decide whether the change would be considered a “revision” to the original project and therefore require a hearing, subsequent documentation convinced the board the change was not significant enough to be considered a “revision.”

In the Siting Board’s decision to approve the request, it said “the potential impacts of the project have been thoroughly addressed by the siting board … all of which remain applicable to the project as amended,” and that “the proposed modifications were not expected to result in any adverse environmental impacts as compared to the certificated project.”

The board specifically noted that shadow flicker created by the two turbines will not have a greater impact because of the shift. With “minor changes” in total shadow hours for 27 homes near the turbines, the analysis found the total shadow flicker for those residences will not increase above the 30-hour limit.

Although measurable sound levels will increase slightly in homes north of the two turbines and decrease slightly for those to the south, the board said that “in all cases the differences in predicted noise levels are too small to be perceptible by human hearing” and that permitted noise levels continue to be met.

Likewise, vibration levels are also not expected to change significantly for nearby homes.

The board noted that the approval of the amendment does not absolve Number Three from following the “terms, conditions, limitations or modifications of the construction and operation of the facility” as outlined in the permitting certificate.

There have been two previous amendment petitions for the project in the last year, both of which were approved by the Siting Board.

The first, filed on Dec. 21, changed the number of turbines from 31 to 29. Of those, 24 would have a maximum blade-tip height of 591 feet, instead of the 586 described in the original project because the original model is no longer available. It was approved by the Siting Board on March 11.

The second amendment petition, filed on May 24, requested that permits and approval documents from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, be required before the turbines are erected rather than before construction could begin. That amendment was approved on July 1.

The 105.8-megawatt Number Three Wind project was granted the coveted Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need with a number of conditions on Nov. 12, 2019.

It is located in the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg in Lewis County.