The New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment (Siting Board) convened for a rehearing Tuesday in Albany and reaffirmed its decision to allow Cassadaga Wind LLC to build and operate a wind farm in Chautauqua County.
The Siting Board released a 28-page document explaining the ruling.
“We decline to modify the findings, conclusions, or conditions imposed by our January 17, 2018 order granting the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need to Cassadaga Wind, LLC, except to make the correction to Certificate Condition 32…”After the Siting Board’s initial January decision, Concerned Citizens of the Cassadaga Wind Project (Concerned Citizens) filed a petition for rehearing, “challenging certificate conditions related to wildlife conservation planning and noise mitigation and enforcement.”
In the rehearing petition Concerned Citizens requested that the board modify specific conditions “to make clear the requirement for noise reduction operations and to modify (that condition) to require Cassadaga Wind to add to its revised noise modeling a … penalty for amplitude modulation.”
Concerned Citizens also requested language in the condition to better emphasize enforceability in case noise conditions aren’t met by Cassadaga Wind.
According to the report “Concerned Citizens complains that noise impacts have not been avoided or minimized because, it asserts, the Certificate relies on a post-construction residential noise complaint process to identify amplitude modulation issues rather than requiring compliance through project design.”
The Siting Board ruled against adding enforcement language to the conditions, explaining that the petition “fails to raise an error of law or fact and does not present new information warranting a change to the revised modeling methodology.”
“Sadly we have witnessed how long unresolved complaints get tossed back and forth from the local level to state agencies — for years,” Joni Riggle of Concerned Citizens told the OBSERVER. “We are very disappointed in the outcome. Concerned Citizens, along with the Department of Public Service faulted the noise study’s methodology. Both parties requested it to be redone with more accurate and protective parameters. Unfortunately, this request was denied…”
The Siting Board contradicted Concerned Citizens claims that noise reduction enforcement is questionable.
“Concerned Citizens is incorrect when it asserts that only residents’ complaints will trigger review of the project’s compliance with noise standards. Condition 72 requires Cassadaga Wind to conduct tests of post-construction compliance with the noise limits in Condition 80 and to file those results with the Public Service Commission. As with all compliance filings made with the Commission in such cases, Cassadaga Wind’s test results will be open to comment by other parties and to analysis by DPS staff.”
Riggle argued that “It is near impossible to ever prove a noise violation,” and cited testimony given during the evidentiary hearing by a DPS noise engineer.
“EverPower is going to be allowed to process the information, which in my opinion will be something that will be up to the person that is analyzing the information and audio recording. I have a problem with that because there is no way that we can determine, whether the information that was excluded, was properly excluded or not.”
Concerned Citizens was successful in convincing the Siting Board to add language to what’s called Condition 32, to allow any party, including Concerned Citizens’ “participation in Cassadaga Wind’s development of a Bird and Bat Conservation Strategy (BBCS) in consultation with DPS Staff, DEC and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The revised modeling must demonstrate that the project, as designed and constructed, will meet the specified design goals and will comply with local noise laws and the certificate’s operational noise limits…”
As it stands today Cassadaga Wind is authorized to construct “up to 48 wind turbines, 16.6 miles of access roads, 29.2 miles of overhead and underground 34.5 kV collection lines, a 5.5-mile above-ground 115 kV generator lead line, a collection substation that interconnects the turbines with electric transmission facilities owned and operated by Niagara Mohawk, two permanent meteorological towers, two temporary staging/laydown yards for use during construction, and an operations and maintenance building.” The wind towers would be built in the towns of Arkwright, Charlotte, and Cherry Creek. EverPower is the company behind the Cassadaga Wind Project.
The Arkwright Summit Wind Farm, which is a separate company, is currently constructing wind towers in the town of Arkwright and can build up to 36 turbines.