Yates residents have until next Friday to mail in survey

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 December 2015 at 12:00 am

YATES – The Town of Yates sent 2,608 surveys to residents last week, asking 10 questions about issues related to a proposed wind turbine project in Yates and Somerset.

Yates residents have been asked to send in the self-addressed, stamped envelopes with surveys, postmarked by Dec. 11.

“We wanted something we can submit to the Siting Board that is legitimate, that can be taken seriously,” said Town Supervisor John Belson.

The town formed a three-person committee to compile the questions on the survey and also give residents two pages of background on the “Lighthouse Wind” project. Town Councilman Wes Bradley was on the committee along with Save Ontario Shores member Richard Pucher and Taylor Quarles, the project manager for Apex Clean Energy.

Apex has submitted a scoping document to the Public Service Commission. The company may build up to 71 wind turbines in the two towns, generating 200 megawatts of electricity.

In a letter to residents that went out with the survey, the Yates Town Board says the town doesn’t have an official vote on the project, but town officials can influence the decision-making with the project through its laws and regulations as well as with a presentation to the Siting Board.

The state passed a law in 2011 giving a Siting Board authority to approve electric generating projects 25 megawatts or bigger, according to the letter from the town to residents.

The letter also says a host community agreement with Apex could be part of the process with Apex paying annual payments to the town, the company agreeing to repair roads as part of the construction, and also to have a plan for decommissioning the turbines in the future.

The letter also outlines the state’s plan for 50 percent of the power to come from renewable sources by 2030. State leaders want to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions, according to the letter.

Bradley said the data from the survey could be part of the town’s presentation to the Siting Board if Apex can move the application past the preliminary scoping document.

“If there is a final application, there will be a comment period and I would expect that the Town Board would make a presentation to the Siting Board,” Bradley said. “The survey will give us information we can use in the presentation.”

The town has committee in place to tabulate the data and do a final report for the Town Board.

Here are the 10 questions residents are asked to answer on the survey:

1) Many topics are currently being studied regarding Lighthouse Wind. These proposed wind turbines would change the appearance of the landscape within the town. Do you have a concern about this?

Yes, No, No Opinion

2) As currently proposed, the electricity from this project would be delivered into the New York State electrical grid. Should the Town of Yates attempt to negotiate a separate agreement with electric suppliers for more favorable rates?

Yes, No, No Opinion

3) If Apex eventually seeks a PILOT (Payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) from COIDA (County of Orleans Industrial Development Agency), should this be granted?

Yes, No, No Opinion

4) In 2015, the Town of Yates tax levy was $852,205. What percentage of decrease in the Town of Yates tax levy would you like to see come from this project? Circle one answer.
0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, No Opinion

5) What effect do you feel wind turbines would have on property values in the Town of Yates?

Increase, Decrease, No Change

6) Taking into consideration requirements of the Article 10 review process, do you feel the study of health issues is important?

Yes, No, No Opinion

7) Taking into consideration requirements of the Article 10 review process, do you feel the study of wildlife issues is important?

Yes, No, No Opinion

8) Taking into consideration requirements of the Article 10 review process, do you feel the study of possible effects on the operations at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is important?

Yes, No, No Opinion

9) Do you feel New York State’s “Reforming Energy Vision” is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Yes, No, No Opinion

10) Based on your knowledge of Lighthouse Wind, are you in favor or opposed to this project at this time?
Favor, Oppose, No Opinion