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The definition of community

Galloo Island is facing significant unresolved environmental questions because of the danger to endangered and rare bird and bat species. No matter how it’s spun, towers with blades reaching 800 feet into the heavens, where the blade tips are spinning at over 100 miles an hour (yes, that is correct) even in lower wind speeds, there is going to be significant bird and bat mortality. That problem is multiplied because the island is under a significant migratory flyway.

Apex Clean Energy has filed its formal application for review by a state siting board under the state’s Article 10 provisions. Its Galloo Island project will mark the first of many proposed in the north country to be offered for consideration under a largely untested review process.

The Galloo proposal is for a 109-megawatt, 30-tower commercial wind facility. The towers would reach nearly 600 feet, and the 177-foot blades would extend the maximum reach of the towers to nearly 800 feet — making it a project that would dwarf the 300-foot towers of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm on the Tug Hill Plateau above Lowville.

And the additional height could cause degradation to the reliability of the radar system at Fort Drum’s Wheeler Sack Air Field, and the Montague weather radar site. It also could be an environmental disaster.

The existing regulatory record for Galloo Island, consisting of mandated filings by the developer and statements in support of or against the project, has drawn a notable variety of comments from respected sources that say the project carries significant environmental risk.

Wildlife biologist Clifford Schneider, a member of the Jefferson County Planning Board, has written several letters regarding... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Apex Clean Energy has filed its formal application for review by a state siting board under the state’s Article 10 provisions. Its Galloo Island project will mark the first of many proposed in the north country to be offered for consideration under a largely untested review process.

The Galloo proposal is for a 109-megawatt, 30-tower commercial wind facility. The towers would reach nearly 600 feet, and the 177-foot blades would extend the maximum reach of the towers to nearly 800 feet — making it a project that would dwarf the 300-foot towers of the Maple Ridge Wind Farm on the Tug Hill Plateau above Lowville.

And the additional height could cause degradation to the reliability of the radar system at Fort Drum’s Wheeler Sack Air Field, and the Montague weather radar site. It also could be an environmental disaster.

The existing regulatory record for Galloo Island, consisting of mandated filings by the developer and statements in support of or against the project, has drawn a notable variety of comments from respected sources that say the project carries significant environmental risk.

Wildlife biologist Clifford Schneider, a member of the Jefferson County Planning Board, has written several letters regarding the danger to bats and migrating birds, including a number of protected species up to and including bald eagles. Also offering opposition have been the National Audubon Society and the federal Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The towns of Henderson and Lyme have weighed in, criticizing the methodology of Apex’s visual impact study. Both of them note that the heaviest visual impacts fall on their towns, both about six miles from Galloo Island, while the host town, Hounsfield is mostly 15 miles from the project site.

Yet only Hounsfield and the Sackets Harbor Central School District will be compensated by a quickly enlarged tax base. That money won’t be shared with towns with arguably more onerous impacts.

This makes for a very interesting review. Under the Article 10 process, community support is supposed to be a factor that carries weight. With the Galloo Island project, however, it will fall almost entirely to the definition of community.

Why? Because there has been little hue and cry within the town of Hounsfield over the project. The town, seeing dollar signs dancing on the horizon, has endorsed the project without question. The school district, seeing dollar signs — well, you get the picture.

This leaves the towns of Henderson and Lyme and their school districts, all of which derive substantial income from the highly assessed waterfront property within their boundaries, looking at a possible reverse financial impact. Should property values drop because of the Galloo Island project, they will not be indemnified for their property tax losses.

Wind projects should be sited where there are minimal environmental and social objections (and where there is no threat to aviation or weather radars).

Galloo Island is facing significant unresolved environmental questions because of the danger to endangered and rare bird and bat species. No matter how it’s spun, towers with blades reaching 800 feet into the heavens, where the blade tips are spinning at over 100 miles an hour (yes, that is correct) even in lower wind speeds, there is going to be significant bird and bat mortality. That problem is multiplied because the island is under a significant migratory flyway.

And towns adjacent to the project site are deeply opposed to it because a quirk of long-ago governance put the island in the town of Hounsfield rather than the much nearer towns of either Henderson or Lyme. Yet the most obvious visual impacts will be outside the town in which the facility is located.

This is a real test of the Article 10 process. Residents along the Golden Crescent from Sandy Beach to Cape Vincent view themselves as the lake-side community. In most instances, there is a sense of solidarity and shared interest. But will that even be considered by the siting board?

We won’t know until the process is underway. But the test of Article 10 here is clear: do community values and environmental hazards mean anything? Using a phrase that is the bane of editorial page editors everywhere, only time will tell.


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

SEP 23 2017
http://www.windaction.org/posts/47231-the-definition-of-community
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