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Apex has shown lack of follow through with public outreach

Posted 15 January 2018 at 7:39 pm

Editor:

In October 2014 Apex Clean Energy filed a public document on the NYS Department of Public Service. Called the Public Involvement Plan, it is required by Article 10. In it the wind developer outlined [pp. 6-7] its required community outreach to the host communities of Somerset and Yates in the Lighthouse Wind project area.

• “A phone poll to understand community sentiment” [and their list of]  “Additional Public Events:

• Office open house: A kick-off event to invite people to the Apex office space in town and introduce local contact.

• Local workshops offering an introduction to the lighthousewind.com website and instructions on how to give online feedback.

• Information booths at local farmer’s market (monthly in season) and participation in a few additional events.

• Public information sessions to educate the community on wind energy and the Project.

Topics may include:

• Turbine Technology: This session would include the basics of how a wind turbine works, a synopsis of changes over the last 15 years, a list of some projects and turbine types, and then a review of the specifications of selected current models.

• The Grid: How the grid works and how power is purchased.

• Wind/meteorology: How we measure the wind, why some locations are better than others, and how this information contributes to siting

• Studies, Impacts, and Mitigation: This session would explain the studies that we will be performing, what they will show us and how we will make modifications to accommodate the results.

• Siting: An interactive session that informs the public on what considerations go into siting wind turbines.

• Construction and Operations: A presentation about what the community will see during construction and after construction is complete. This session will feature pictures and visual aids to help the public understand what to expect from construction and operations.”

I have read the contents of 18 event logs filed by Apex on the DPS website from January 2015 to November 2017. There have been no events remotely resembling the above descriptions. There was no telephone poll to gauge residents’ sentiments, and there were no “information sessions.”

What I see in Apex event logs consists of assertions that their Barker office was staffed by at least one person during regular hours, and that there was some presence at town board and other official meetings. Any attempt at community outreach was limited to reciting office hours.  There is mention that during the July 4th holidays of 2015 and 2016 Apex had a presence in Lyndonville and added Hartland (not a host community) town park in 2017.

If Apex has desired to conduct outreach to these affected communities, it was never done. (Paying for hot dogs and fireworks is not “informational”.) An individual walking into an Apex office to ask a question is not the same as an event, such as the educational and informative “local workshops” Apex elaborately describes in their PIP.

A year after the PIP we have seen that their Preliminary Scoping Statement was found deficient by the DPS, and yet there was no effort made by Apex to answer specific questions except in the most general and vague terms, and allowed to stand as such.

In the last several weeks now Apex has been found out-of-compliance with its met tower in Somerset. Originally, to obtain the permit to erect it (after successfully suing Somerset) Apex had agreed to conditions set by the town’s planning board. But the requisite reports were never made to the planning board’s stipulations, nor was adequate fencing for the tower constructed.

So, what are residents supposed to take from this? It seems that all of this begs the question: if Apex has problems with follow-through, what can we expect when this company begins construction and operation of Lighthouse Wind? Are they rewarded for just “saying anything”?

Where is the accountability here? Who is the watchdog that oversees that Apex will carry out what it promises? People’s health, the environment, quality of life, their greatest financial assets, are all at risk here to a developer that obviously cares not. It’s another reason, going on Year Four, that the overwhelming majority of residents in my town of Somerset, and those in Yates, have continued to oppose Apex.

Christine Bronson

Councilwoman, Town of Somerset

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