Community can’t rest in opposing wind turbine project in Yates, Somerset

Posted 23 October 2017 at 9:17 am


As is customary at quarter end, an assessment has been completed to include comments “In-Favor” and “Opposed” to the Lighthouse Wind Project as proposed by APEX Clean Energy. As you may know, APEX Clean Energy is an out-of-state wind developer based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

By way of history, APEX began approaching large-scale landowners in September of 2013 with the goal of signing leases on land for industrial wind turbines. In October 2014, APEX Clean Energy “went public” with their project and in December 2014 issued a Public Information Plan (PIP) which indicated that they were proposing to place 70 industrial wind turbines in a 24-square-mile swath of land in Yates and Somerset.

In the summer of 2015, APEX indicated that their selection of turbine size would be the largest available at the time of application. For informational purposes, the largest industrial wind turbine currently available is manufactured by Vesta, Inc. and is 787 feet high. By way of comparison, 787 feet corresponds approximately to a 79-story skyscraper.

In late 2014, APEX obtained a project number:  14-F-0485 from the New York State Government and began posting documents on their project to the NYSDPS website. Concurrently, the general public also began posting comments to the NYSDPS website both in favor and opposed to the project. It was at this point that the quarterly comments assessment process commenced.

At the end of Q3-2017, 1004 public comments had been posted to the NYSDPS site. Assessment of comments continues to show the opposition rate to the Lighthouse Wind Industrial Wind Turbine Emplacement Project at 84%.  Please see the table below for details:

DPS Comments
Date Comments




% In-favor % Opposed
Q1-2015 0 40 0% 100%
Q2-2015 0 73 0% 100%
Q3-2015 35 157 18% 82%
Q4-2015 58 138 30% 70%
Q1-2016 31 165 16% 84%
Q2-2016 5 29 15% 85%
Q3-2016 21 67 24% 76%
Q4-2016 5 59 8% 92%
Q1-2017 0 25 0% 100%
Q2-2017 2 68 3% 97%
Q3-2017 5 21 19% 81%
Total 162 842 16% 84%

It is important to note that in the 2.75 years in which quarterly assessments have been performed, the quarterly opposition rate dipped only once to 70 percent.  The overall average opposition in those same 2.75 years has settled at 84 percent.

As with previous assessments, all comments made to the NYSDPS site regarding the Lighthouse Wind Project were included in the assessment and cover the time period from Q1-2015 through September 30, 2017. All comments were read fully in order to ascertain position regarding the wind project.

In other news:

There seems to be a shift in our State Capitol of Albany toward the many Upstate and Western New York Industrial Wind Opposition Movements.  For example:

  • On September 14, 2017, at a meeting of the Independent Power Producers of New York, Public Service Commission Chairman John Rhodes said that the state was not going to force wind projects on rural communities and said the Article 10 is “not a stacked process” against those communities. Mr. Rhodes stated, “Not under this governor are we going to force people in a police state mode to do anything.”
  • On September 14, 2017, Lieutenant Governor Hochul spoke at the North Country Regional Economic Development Council Meeting at SUNY Potsdam. A councilmember informed Ms. Hochul that the council unanimously supported keeping Fort Drum a regional priority when siting industrial wind turbine projects. “We are aggressive in protecting our bases,” Lieutenant Governor Hochul said. “It’s the jobs, it’s the impact on the community and also … it’s protecting our nation’s defense.” Ms. Hochul was also asked about industrial wind turbine projects elsewhere in the North Country. Lieutenant Governor Hochul confirmed that addressing community needs was important. “We’re committed to clean energy and reducing our reliance on outside fossil fuels, but we’re also very sensitive to the needs of the communities, and we’ll always strike the right balance,” she said.  The extension of similar Albany attention to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is only a matter of time.
  • On October 12, 2017, Mr. Paul Agresta – Chief Counsel for NYSDPS spoke at the Alliance for Clean Energy (ACE) New York Fall Conference in Albany, NY. Agresta stated the following:  “Care must be taken by Article 10 applicants to avoid, and we as regulators must ensure against, giving in to the attitude of the pure entrepreneur,” Agresta said. “The pure entrepreneur only cares about closing the deal, its deal, today’s deal, by hook or by crook, by trickery or intimidation, close a deal, cash out, move on. That’s a dangerous attitude, which if taken too far will kill the Article 10 process.”  In relation to continuing struggle to define the term “unreasonably burdensome” in relation to local zoning law requirements, Mr. Agresta stated the following:…the better practice is to find a town that wants you and help them write an ordinance that accommodates what you want to build. That’s really what we need to have happen,” Agresta said. “We don’t want to be fighting towns over waivers. We want developers to go to a town where they’re wanted and work it out.”

While the tide seems to be turning in Albany, it is important to remember that it takes herculean efforts to effect meaningful, long term change with large governmental organizations. So, it’s right and appropriate to celebrate these victories in Albany. However, we cannot rest in the ongoing effort and fight to defeat APEX Clean Energy and the Lighthouse Wind Project. Our economy, wildlife, environment, health and very quality of life is at stake.

Thank you,

John Riggi

Councilman, Town of Yates