Judges will hold pre-application conference Thursday in Barker for Lighthouse Wind

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 January 2016 at 12:00 am

BARKER – Three administrative law judges will meet with Apex Clean Energy and stakeholders in the Lighthouse Wind project on Thursday to discuss many issues with the proposed project.

The pre-application conference begins at 3 p.m. and is expected to take about two hours. The conference will be at the Barker Volunteer Fire Department Hall, 1660 Quaker Rd.

Administrative Law Judges David R. Van Ort and Sean Mullany, of the Department of Public Service, and Richard A. Sherman, of the Department of Environmental Conservation, will lead the session, identifying issues that need additional study by Apex.

The company is applying to the Public Service Commission to build up to 71 wind turbines that could peak at 620 feet high. The proposed project site is along approximately 12 miles of Lake Ontario shoreline and extends approximately 3 to 4 miles south of Lake Ontario.

The turbine locations are not final. The spots for the towers will be influenced by a number of factors, including environmental studies, wildlife studies, electrical studies, land leasing, cultural assessments, and public input, according to a notice from the PSC.

Apex on Nov. 23 filed a Preliminary Scoping Statement to determine the nature and scope of the studies Apex needs to undertake to develop the information that must be included Apex’s formal application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need.

The pre-application conference is expected to give Apex direction on what issues it needs to address for the next phase of the application. Taylor Quarles, development manager for Lighthouse Wind, said the company expects to submit the next application this summer, and then the community and stakeholders will have a year to submit comments.

Another issue to go before the judges on Thursday will be how to divvy up $70,350 in intervenor funds. Apex by law needed to provide $350 for every proposed megawatt for local municipalities and citizens’ groups to hire experts to help review the project.

“Lighthouse Wind” is a 201-megawatt proposal. The intervenor funds are supposed to go 50 percent to municipalities and 50 percent to citizens’ groups. The project covers two towns in two different counties.

Yates officials have requested a 75-25 split with the two towns getting most of the funds to pay for attorneys and engineers to review the Preliminary Scoping Statement.

If the judges approve the Yates request, that would mean there is $52,762.50 for the two towns. Yates has asked that money then be split in half with Somerset and Yates each receiving $26,381.25. That would leave 25 percent of the intervenor funds, or $17,587.50, for other local parties or citizen’s groups to participate in hiring experts for the review.

Somerset offciials, in a letter to the PSC, identified up to $95,550 just for Somerset in reveiwing the initial Preliminary Scoping Statement. That includes the expense of attorneys, engineers, an ornithologist to study the impact on wildlife, an expert on raptor migration to study the impact on wildlife, a real estate valuation advisor to study the potential impact on real estate values, and an audiologist to study the potential adverse health effects caused by the proposed project.

Yates, in its request for funds, identified $26,381.25 in costs for legal and engineering services.