Apex files 290-page document in response to concerns about turbine project in Yates, Somerset

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2018 at 10:01 am

Yates town supervisor calls filing ‘slipshod’

File photo by Tom Rivers: The 400-foot-high wind turbines in Sheldon, Wyoming County, are pictured in October 2015. Apex is proposing turbines that would be 600 feet high in Yates and Somerset.

ALBANY – Apex Clean Energy on Monday filed a long-anticipated stipulations document, which in 290 pages details the company studies and responses to concerns about environmental, visual, property values and other impacts. (Click here to be directed to the document.)

There is now a 21-day comment period for residents and other interested parties to submit comments about the stipulations and project.

Apex is proposing to build a 201 megawatt wind-powered electric generating facility in Somerset and Yates. The facility would also include a point of interconnection substation near the Kintigh Substation in Somerset, which would deliver electricity to the New York State electric grid.

Apex would build about 70 wind turbines, access roads, electrical collection lines, collection substation, wind measurement towers, temporary construction staging and storage areas, and an operations and maintenance facility.

The 290-page document details the proposed stipulations agreed to between Apex and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Public Service, the NYS Department of Health, and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Other parties that may join these stipulations include the Town of Somerset, the Town of Yates, Save Ontario Shores, Genesee Valley Audubon Society, and Rochester Birding Association.

The project has been bitterly opposed by the towns of Yates and Somerset, and the citizens group, Save Ontario Shores. Yates and Somerset have both updated their wind energy laws, increasing setbacks for turbines by property lines, and banning them within 3 miles of Lake Ontario.

James Simon, Yates Town Supervisor, issued this statement about Apex’s stipulations filing:

Jim Simon

“After nearly 2 years of confidential stipulations negotiations, Apex Clean Energy has failed to gain agreement from either of the targeted towns on the scope and methodology of the proposed studies in any of the relevant exhibits of their Lighthouse Wind project proposal.   This is very telling. They have failed to make their case to the towns, and yet they have the audacity to serve the towns and the general public official notice of proposed stipulations purportedly agreed to by several state agencies.

“I am shocked at the shoddiness of Apex’s 290-page Stipulations document. For instance, Apex claims to have an agreement with several state agencies regarding what they refer to on page 87 as “Appendix A” (Stipulation 31-1001.31 Exhibit 31: Local Laws and Ordinances, paragraph C).  And yet, there is no Appendix A for Exhibit 31 – it does not exist anywhere in the document.  Perhaps Apex is telling the Town of Yates that they are planning to seek a determination from the Siting Board that our updated local wind law is ‘unreasonably burdensome?’ One can only wonder.

“Getting back to this slipshod document, according to the Table of Contents, there are no appendices or attachments whatsoever. And yet, a cursory scan of the document reveals a number of appendices and attachments not listed in the Table of Contents such as Attachment 20(A) on page 90 (or is it page 46?), Attachment 22A on page 93 (or is it page 59?), Appendix A (p.263), Appendix B (p. 274), Appendix 1 (p. 192),  Appendix 2 (p. 193), etc..

“This is sloppiness, ambivalence, hubris, or all of the above. And they want to build 600-foot industrial wind turbines in Yates and Somerset? Go figure.

“With regard to supposed agreements on the proposed stipulations between Apex and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Public Service, the Department of Health, and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, I am hoping that these state agencies are not being bamboozled into stipulations agreements before the 21-day Public Comment period is over. After all, they haven’t yet had a chance to consider some of the local expertise that will surely come to light from the citizens with standing in this case.

“Lastly, two weeks ago the Town of Yates sent Apex Clean Energy’s CEO Mark Goodwin a confirmed-receipt letter stating, a) that we have updated our local wind laws, b) that we have passed a unanimous resolution against the Lighthouse Wind project, and, c) that we continue to have monolithic opposition from both towns, both school districts and both counties against a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement.  The last point would mean that even if the state forced this project on Yates and Somerset, Apex would have to pay full property taxes making the project economically unviable. Mr. Goodwin’s response? Crickets. No wait, check that. His response is a 290-page monstrosity called ‘Stipulations.’

“Game on.”

Dan Engert, Somerset Town Supervisor, released this statement on Monday about the Apex filing:

Dan Engert

“The Town of Somerset is disappointed to report that Lighthouse Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy, has taken the next step in its plan to convert our entire Town into a sprawling industrial wind energy plant of massive proportions.

“Today, by publishing draft stipulations with state agencies, Apex has clearly signaled its resolve to limit the review of their project’s environmental, economic, and public health impacts. Apex has also reaffirmed its intent to trample Home Rule by having the state government ‘waive’ our local zoning laws.

“Somerset is confident that all parties will think carefully before signing any agreement that could improperly limit the review of environmental and economic impacts. A growing body of evidence shows the devastating impact industrial wind can have on people and the environment – especially in lake-shore communities like Somerset. It would be a shame if the so called ‘stipulations’ published today are used to prevent a hard look at the major bird migration route passing over Somerset, the visual impacts of 70 new 60-story towers, or the dangers to public health posed by noisy turbines.

“The only positive to take away from today’s publication of draft agreements is that the secretive stipulation process, which has kept the public in the dark for almost 2 years, is now over. The truth is that Somerset has already suffered enough economic harm at the hands of Apex. Public opposition remains strong, but unfortunately this ill-conceived project has impacted some neighbors and families who have been torn apart by the divisive and secretive tactics of a big industrial wind company. Today, as Apex continues its quest to overturn our local zoning laws, the time for healing has not yet begun.

“Governor Cuomo, I call upon you to stop the sacrifice of upstate property at the altar of industrial wind development.”

Taylor Quarles, Lighthouse Wind Development Manager, issued this statement:

Taylor Quarles

“Stipulations is a process that involves discussion and consultation with those who have registered for party status regarding the methodology and scope of studies, the results of which will be presented in the final application. Stipulations is an entirely optional process; neither Lighthouse Wind nor other parties are required to participate in the dialogue, but instead do so because they see a benefit in working to ensure the final application is thorough and complete.

“Throughout stipulations, all discussions and negotiations between parties should remain confidential. However, after making the agreed-upon changes and finalizing stipulations, the results are submitted for public comment before any party can sign. A party’s signature on a stipulation signifies their satisfaction with the extent and methods of the proposed study plan. Lighthouse Wind has remained committed to receiving public input throughout the Article 10 process, and looks forward to reviewing comments received on these stipulations prior to seeking any signatures from parties.

“We encourage readers to judge the stipulations for themselves. They will find an extensive and detailed document which is the result of extensive input we have received from over 20 involved stakeholder parties, including Somerset and Yates, all the pertinent state agencies, several local environmental groups, Save Ontario Shores, and several individuals. We remain committed to the over 100 signed landowners who are excited for the benefits the Lighthouse Wind project could offer their communities, in part evidenced by the over 20 successfully operating wind projects across New York State.

“The scope of studies proposed in this document will make Lighthouse Wind one of the most exhaustively reviewed wind projects to date. Public health and Safety (Exhibit 15) is covered on pages 24-28. Noise and Vibration (Exhibit 19) is covered on pages 31-42. Terrestrial Ecology and Wetlands (Exhibit 22) is covered on pages 49-59. Visual Impacts (exhibit 24) is covered on pages 62-78. Site Restoration and Decommissioning (exhibit 29) is covered on pages 85-86.

“All told, the stipulations document is over 200 pages long and exhaustively details the scope for each of the 41 exhibits required in our future Article 10 application.  We have been diligent and committed throughout the stipulations discussions because we see it as a critical step in the ongoing process of receiving input from stakeholders and the public.  As such, we are eager to review any and all input submitted over the comment period.”

Within 21 days after filing of the proposed stipulations, any person, agency or municipality may submit comments on the proposed stipulations by serving such comments on the applicant’s designated representative: Taylor Quarles, 8687 Main Street, Barker, NY 14012, or by emailing info@lighthousewind.com and by filing a copy with the Secretary to the Siting Board (Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess at secretary@dps.ny.gov).

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