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Lawsuit filed against wind farm developer

ROCHESTER | A lawsuit has been filed against a Prattsburgh wind farm developer in state Supreme Court, extending a drawn-out battle over wind energy in the region.

The lawsuit by wind farm opponents Advocates for Prattsburgh charges serious faults in a generic environmental study by EcoGen and approved by the Steuben County Industrial Develop-ment Agency.

“The methodology used in the study was flawed, erroneous and in some cases, outright wrong,” said Glenn Pezzulo, attorney for the Advocates.


Pezzulo said a bird and bat study - an essential element of any environmental review - on Braddock's Bay at Ontario Lake was used as evidence the 400-foot tall turbines would not effect migration patterns in Prattsburgh.

“Now come on,” Pezzulo said. “That's a glaring issue right there Š and they did it without permission from Braddock's Bay.”

Other problems include no information on the effect the turbines would have on specific groundwater supplies and wells, inconclusive property value studies, and the combined effect of other, nearby wind farms.

“There's nothing in there about what effect that wind farm 20 miles away (in Cohocton) they're talking about could have,” Pezzulo said. “And it will.”

SCIDA approved the EcoGen study last December, with the stipulation each site then be identified and reviewed under the terms of the final, 1,500-page study.

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The lawsuit by wind farm opponents Advocates for Prattsburgh charges serious faults in a generic environmental study by EcoGen and approved by the Steuben County Industrial Develop-ment Agency.

“The methodology used in the study was flawed, erroneous and in some cases, outright wrong,” said Glenn Pezzulo, attorney for the Advocates.


Pezzulo said a bird and bat study - an essential element of any environmental review - on Braddock's Bay at Ontario Lake was used as evidence the 400-foot tall turbines would not effect migration patterns in Prattsburgh.

“Now come on,” Pezzulo said. “That's a glaring issue right there Š and they did it without permission from Braddock's Bay.”

Other problems include no information on the effect the turbines would have on specific groundwater supplies and wells, inconclusive property value studies, and the combined effect of other, nearby wind farms.

“There's nothing in there about what effect that wind farm 20 miles away (in Cohocton) they're talking about could have,” Pezzulo said. “And it will.”

SCIDA approved the EcoGen study last December, with the stipulation each site then be identified and reviewed under the terms of the final, 1,500-page study.

“We're very comfortable with the final document,” said James Sherron, SCIDA executive director. “Keep in mind the (Department of Environmental Conservation) accepted the generic form, and with the DEC recommending it, we didn't see any problem.”

Prattsburgh fielded the first proposals in the county for wind farms, and has been the center of controversy from the beginning.

The Advocates oppose projects by two rival developers for a 50- or 53-turbine wind farm in Prattsburgh, and the neighboring town of Italy, located in Yates County.

The group charges the development would have a lasting, detrimental effect on the people, the environment and the character of the rural region.

At a SCIDA board meeting last year, they strenuously objected when EcoGen representative Thomas Hagner conducted some environmental studies for the project.

Hagner argued the tests were simple to conduct, and the results were tested in Europe by reputable agencies.

The Aurora-based developer has also come under fire recently, with some prospective leaseholders charging earlier lease terms have been dramatically altered.

Hagner did not return calls from The Leader Thursday.

The second developer in the Prattsburgh area, WindFarm Prattsburgh/Global Winds, is conducting a site-specific environmental review, Sherron said.

The lawsuit is not expected to have an immediate effect on other wind farm projects being considered throughout the county.

Most of the projects are in various stages of environment studies required by the state for government funds and overseen by SCIDA.

Projects ranging from 20-50 turbines have been proposed in the towns of Hornby, Hartsville and Hornellsville, and Cohocton. The town of Howard accepted a proposal Wednesday night under its new wind ordinance, which will be forwarded to SCIDA for environmental reviews and tax breaks.

Sherron said the combined projects represent a one-billion-dollar industry in the county.

A recent proposal for community-based wind farm developments in Steuben by Rochester businessman Thomas Golisano would also be welcomed by SCIDA - but not as an alternate to existing projects, Sherron said.

“Golisano's plan, the idea is very good and we would support it,” he said. “But we will not rescind existing agreements. We're committed to the developers we have as long as they meet certain criteria. But we have no problem with competition and parallel projects.”




Source: http://www.the-leader.com/a...

APR 14 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2149-lawsuit-filed-against-wind-farm-developer
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