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SOS president asks Cuomo to fill local seat on Siting Board

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 February 2016 at 12:00 am

YATES – The president of the citizens group opposed to the wind turbine project proposed in Yates and Somerset has written Gov. Cuomo a letter, asking him to fill the seat on a Siting Board for the “Lighthouse Wind” project.

There are supposed to be two local representatives and five leaders of state agencies on the “New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment.” That board will review the proposed project that includes up to 71 turbines that could peak at 620-feet high in the two towns.

One local representative has been named to the board. Randy Atwater, president of the Barker Board of Education, was appointed by John Flanagan, majority leader of the State Senate.

Carl Heastie, speaker of the State Assembly, also could have named a local representative but he didn’t act on the matter.

Now Pamela Atwater, president of Save Ontario Shores and wife of Randy Atwater, is pressing Gov. Cuomo to fill the other local seat.

“The Article 10 Board, even with two local appointees, is already heavily skewed against local government and community Home Rule,” Atwater wrote to Cuomo. “To enter the next phase of the siting process with one local representative position unfilled would be unfair, a further insult to the concept of Home Rule and would send a signal that the entire Article 10 process is preconfigured to ignore legitimate local and regional concerns.”

The board includes five leaders of state agencies – chairman of the Department of Public Service, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, commissioner of the Department of Health, chairman of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the commissioner of Economic Development.

The loss of “home rule” for the project has been denounced by many local municipal boards and elected officials, including the town boards in Yates and Somerset; the Erie, Niagara and Orleans county legislatures; and Congressman Chris Collins, State Sen. Robert Ortt and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Surveys in Yates and Somerset have also showed strong opposition by residents to the project.

Apex Clean Energy has submitted a preliminary scoping statement and has until Feb. 11 to respond to “several hundred” comments on the PSS. After those responses, Apex officials said they look forward to more formal conversations about the project with the community and state agencies, said Taylor Quarles, development manager for Apex’s proposed Lighthouse Wind project.