We wanted to give you an update on what happened at the Article 10 Siting Board’s meeting on February 13. In case you missed our first message about this meeting sent that morning, you may want to review it for introductory information and our press release, click here.
There were two separate cases that were decided at the February 13th meeting. With little notice and no advance discussion with impacted communities, the New York State Article 10 Board on Electric Generation Siting has adopted amendments to the Article 10 regulations on an emergency basis. This is case number 20-F-0067.
At the same meeting, the Siting Board (the Board) also approved a rehearing on several issues in the Number Three Wind project. This is case number 16-F-0328.
What these two separate decisions had in common was that the Board in both cases referenced the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (the Climate Act) that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, as justification for changes. These decisions show the Board is willing to decrease protections to birds and is willing to give developers the ability to make more changes without public input because these actions bring down developer costs and make projects more likely to be built.
The Wind Project Rehearing was Granted: In the case of the Number Three Wind project, the developer had been previously granted a certificate to build the industrial wind project. This certificate allowed the developer to build, but established conditions that the developer had to meet in order to begin building the turbines. The developer requested that some of the conditions, related to noise, birds and underground cables, be reconsidered so they would not be so expensive. The Board granted a rehearing on these issues and justified its rehearing related to the two impacted bird species by referring to the Climate Act. The Board said that the Climate Act required all state agencies to consider greenhouse gas and renewable energy goals when making decisions. The existing condition related to birds would cause financial problems for the developer and the Board determined that it will be reviewed and modified.
Emergency Rule Changes were Immediately Implemented: In the case of the emergency rulemaking, the Board changed the Article 10 rules to make it easier for a developer to make changes to a project as it is being built without having to go through a hearing process. This means that it will be easier to make changes without public knowledge or comment. The Climate Act was the primary basis for the emergency rule changes.
The standard rulemaking process, which includes time for public input, was replaced with an emergency implementation of these rule changes effective immediately. The Board has stated that the regular rulemaking process would take too much time and might cause these private developers construction delays which might risk their financing, as well as making it more “difficult and costly” for the State to meet the greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy goals of the Climate Act.
What Next? According to the Board’s press release, this “rulemaking action triggers a 60-day comment period during which the public will have an opportunity to comment on the changes before they are made permanent.” You can go to the link included at the beginning of this message to Case 20-F-0067 if you want to make comments.
Plans are in place to have updates available soon on our website’s homepage to keep you informed.
The Board has set a dangerous precedent here. We need to make sure the voices of rural New Yorkers are heard in this process!