Time running out for residents to share concerns about gaps in Heritage Wind application

Posted 12 May 2021 at 7:16 am


New York State has established a new fast-tracked route for large-scale renewable energy projects (over 25 megawatts) to obtain a certificate of operation. The new regulations that have been established seem to be very much advantageous to the developer, to the extent that if an application is not decided upon by one year of the application submission, a certificate is automatically granted.

The proposed Heritage Wind Project proposes 33 industrial wind turbines 686 feet tall for the town of Barre. The application has been submitted to the 94-C process, and right now is possibly the only opportunity for public involvement, which can be done through comments on the ORES site.

Link to share comments on this application, click here or by  attending the virtual (webex) public comment hearing on May 20, 2021. Participants must register to participate by 10 a.m. on May 19 for Public Statement Hearing Via webex.com or Via phone: 1-800-342-3330.

The Town of Barre board members were shared with on Monday (May 3, 2021) for the first time a presentation by an attorney hired by the Town to represent the Town in this matter and informed that the 60-day public comment period will end on May 21 at 5 p.m., and in their (Knawf and Shaw, Labella Engineering and Town Attorney) review of the application they found many significant areas where the application does not comply with the Town’s recently revised local law. Below is a brief list of some of the areas where compliance is not met.

Noise Standard – Application does not demonstrate compliance with Town’s nighttime 9-hr noise limit for non-participating residences of 40 decibels (dB) and 50 dB for participating residences.

Potentially 102 non-participating residences may experience  greater than 40 dBA but less than 45 dBA. This is about 13% of the Town of Barre residences!

It is very quiet at night in our town. Decibel levels are in the low 20s. Residences that have a 20 decibel increase in noise level will may experience the increase as “intolerable” according to DEC noise guidelines.

The application appears to be non-compliant with ORES 1-hour LEQ for substations of 40 dBA at receptors 119 and 158.

Shadow flicker – Non-Compliant with 25 hour per year shadow flicker standard in Wind Law. ORES proposes to override this requirement and apply ORES standard of 30-hours per year at non-participating residences

Modeling in application indicates 40 non-participating residents with potential for more than 30 hr/yr of shadow flicker.

Setbacks – Confirmation of waivers from participating properties included as a pre-construction permit conditions. These waivers have not been provided to the town.

Blade glint – Wind law requires Blade Glint Study and this has not been completed.

Property value assessment – Town law requires a study regarding this and the completed study is not included in application. ORES has indicated is it not required by ORES. Issue is not related to public health and safety or the environment, which are requirements for adjudication.

Decommissioning – Application factors in salvage value in financial surety calculation, whereas the Local law does not allow for this.

Local law provides for 90 days to execute decommissioning plan, with extensions available for a total of 360 days. Application and permit provide if non-operational for 12 months, and no waiver granted by ORES, facility must be decommissioned in 6 months.

Post-Construction noise and structural assessments – Local law requires fund for an independent “third party” company to do twice a year structural and noise assessments

Draft permit provides for pre-and post-construction noise assessment and noise complaint procedure for post-construction noise evaluations. Post-construction noise assessments required (“leaf-on” and “leaf-off”) with first within 7 months and second within 13 months of commercial operation. Additional assessments based on results. This does not provide certainty of ongoing testing.

Aircraft detection lighting system(s) (ADLS) – Local law requires ADLS or similar to extent allowed by FAA or, if not allowed, a lighting mitigation plan.

Post-construction surface/ground water impact assessment – Local law requires biennial assessment for 4-year period to confirm anticipated impact. Draft permit requires pre-and post-construction water supply well testing based on proximity to construction activity with well replacement requirements. This testing may not be sufficient to clearly understand the impact to local wells.

Performance bond for spills – Local Law requires bond for response to environmental contamination causes by spills. Draft permit includes a description of spill response and control measures, but no financial assurance for cleanup response by the Town (though applicant would be liable the town may have to go after the company to get the funds for cleanup).

Whether you are a resident of the Town of Barre or reside in the surrounding community, this proposed project will have an impact on you, and the list above is not an exhaustive list of the impact this project would have – only areas where the application does not comply with our local town law, which is intended to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents.

If you are concerned about any or all of these proposed infractions of our town law, or others please take five minutes and express these concerns to ORES through the comment section on the link at the top of this article by May 21, 2021 (you do not need to provide a solution, only what your concerns are).

Comments will be used to determine what aspects of this application, if any, will be adjudicated, or if the application will be approved as is. No matter what your stance is on industrial wind turbines, I hope that we can agree that the impact to our health, safety and welfare should be limited and our residents protected.

Click here for link to Heritage Wind Application and comment section on DPS, Department of Public Service Matter Number 21-00026.

Click here for link to Town of Barre Workshop where the above information was shared.

Kerri Richardson

Town of Barre Councilwoman