Since the spring of this year Apex has not had an office in Barker; it was consolidated with their “Western New York development office” in Albion. Apex’s local focus is on the Town of Barre with their Heritage Wind industrial project. As you may recall, SOS became a formal party in the Article 10 process for this project for a number of reasons: the 10 mile visual impact study area of the Heritage Wind project includes a significant portion of the Town of Yates; with turbine heights of possibly 680 feet, they would be seen at great distances including the Lake Ontario shoreline regions; the proposed project would impact regional migrating birds, bats and raptors.
Experience shows that industrial wind projects tend to multiply in areas where they are permitted; Wyoming County has a cluster of projects and Chautauqua County has one built in Arkwright, one permitted under Article 10 in Cassadaga and another proposed in Villanova. We believe that Apex’s Heritage Wind project proposed in Barre ultimately may impact the Lighthouse Wind project as well as the likelihood that an industrial wind project proposed prior to Article 10 called “Alabama Ledge” will apply for approval by the Alabama town board outside of the Article 10 process. This newsletter provides an update on Apex’s Heritage Wind project.
Heritage Wind Article 10 Process: The public comment period for the stipulations portion of the Article 10 process was just ended for Heritage Wind. From the NYS Article 10 site: (http://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/ArticlesByTitle/BCE89BD8C61D9D4B85257E200054A99A?OpenDocument
"Stipulations" are agreements among parties that concern matters before the Siting Board and are designed to simplify or shorten litigation and save costs. Any parties to the proceeding can enter into a stipulation setting forth an agreement on any aspect of the preliminary scoping statement and the scope of studies or program of studies to be conducted. It is often in the interests of applicants and other parties to agree in advance to the content and methodology for conducting studies that will be submitted as part of the application.
SOS did not take part in the confidential portion of the stipulations negotiations. We, along with several other groups and individuals, submitted comments during the recent public comment period that ended October 11. Now all are waiting to hear Apex’s response to these comments and concerns. Apex will circulate their final stipulations and see if some of the parties including New York State agencies will sign some or all the stipulations. Apex can give notice of their plans to file an Article 10 application anytime.
Heritage Wind in the Town of Barre: In the meantime, Apex has been running numerous ads relating to a potential Host Community Agreement (HCA) and Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) amounts. These ads provide very little information – they do not depict any industrial wind turbines. They include depictions of money falling from the sky, a couple standing arm and arm, and… a loaf of bread. They ran full page ads in the Lake Country Pennysaver for the past month possibly looking for local support to encourage Town Board members to vote in favor of the financial deals being offered. The town, county and school district need to determine what sum of money they are willing to take as payment for the substantial burden on the town, its residents, environment and infrastructure.
A significant concern in Barre is the large number of town officials who have financial interests in the project. Apex has a document on the Heritage Wind website that lists seven (7!) town officials (members of the current town board, zoning board or planning board) as having a financial interest in or a family member with financial interest in the Heritage Wind project. This document includes: Name and Address of Parties to the Wind Agreement, Name of Municipal Officer and/or his or her Relative, and Annual Monetary Consideration. Town elections will be interesting this year as some seats are being contested.
Barre has town codes that regulate industrial wind and Apex wants some of those changed so that the Heritage Wind project will fit within the town code. Apex’s proposed changes, if made part of the law, may make the Article 10 Siting Board more likely to approve the project. Apex submitted and the Barre Town Board voted in September to approve a $50,000 agreement for Apex to pay for a third-party consultant to review these proposed changes and additions. Hopefully the Town Board will consider not just Apex’s proposal but also revisions that protect the health, safety, environment, economy and character of the Town of Barre – as wind project laws in Yates and Somerset do.
We hope that the best interests of all Barre residents are being considered as things move forward.