Apex, which is proposing 39 towering industrial wind turbines in the Town of Somerset and an additional eight in the Town of Yates for its Lighthouse Wind project, has a well-documented history of attempting to place industrial wind projects in environmentally sensitive areas. Citizen oversight of this out-of-state developer is essential to protect our environment, economy and our health.
In Maryland, citizens discovered potential environmental and tourism impacts of a proposed Apex project in Kent County. Citizen concerns and persistence led Apex to pull the project and instead develop a smaller solar project in that area.
In Nevada, citizens and environmental groups discovered that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) studies regarding eagles were inadequate for an Apex project proposed on public lands. A lower court sided with the citizens. Instead of working with USFWS to get the studies done properly, Apex appealed. The lower court decision was upheld, and Apex, likely not willing to pay for new studies, withdrew the project.
More recently and much closer to home, citizen vigilance showed that Apex is not to be trusted when it comes to providing relevant data. The Apex project proposed on Galloo Island in eastern Lake Ontario is located in a bird, bat and raptor flyway, just like our southern shore of Lake Ontario. Residents know the volume of birds in these areas.
New York State requires that the developer conduct studies to determine the appropriate placement of these huge turbines. Apex failed to tell the appropriate State agencies that its studies revealed a bald eagle nest!
On October 26, administrative law judges for the Department of Public Service (DPS) ruled that Apex should not have withheld information about an eagle’s nest in the Galloo project area. Administrative Law Judge Michael Caruso stated that this withholding of relevant information “raises serious questions about the applicant’s character and fitness.”
Also related to the Galloo Island wind project, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency (JCIDA) strongly challenged Apex’s statements regarding a potential PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) agreement as indicating that the process is farther along than it is. David Converse, board chairman of JCIDA, stated that the “Applicant (Apex) infers that the status is far more advanced” than it is and “that the PILOT agreement is almost guaranteed,” which it isn’t.
Developers like Apex are lured into New York State by tax incentives and subsidies. They anticipate large profits by placing these industrial wind turbines at bargain rates on inexpensive land. No thought is given to whether the site is environmentally appropriate, or whether the community impacts would be tolerable.
Apex withheld critical information in the Galloo Island Wind project. What are they withholding in the Lighthouse Wind project in Somerset and Yates? No one should believe their self-serving statements about benefits and lack of harm. We demand assurance that all the needed studies were completed by reputable third parties and that relevant data is publicly available.
The fact remain that Lighthouse Wind is proposed in an environmentally sensitive area. The project has been met with unprecedented opposition on many fronts – locally, statewide and nationally. Apex should walk away, just as they’ve done with other projects.
Vice President of Save Ontario Shores, Inc.
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