LOWVILLE — The 45-day extension of the Article 10 certification process for the Number Three Wind LLC will come to an end on Nov. 12, when the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment will meet to “consider” the project.
According to the meeting notice issued Tuesday, the siting board will “consider the application filed in this proceeding.”
James Denn, director of public affairs for the Department of Public Service said that while a final decision on what conditions Invenergy, Number Three’s parent company, will have to meet to win the coveted Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need required to begin construction is expected, it is not guaranteed.
Since the Department of Public Service staff filed recommendations on Sept. 11 in which the process examiners recommended the certificate be awarded providing certain conditions were met, a number of response documents have been filed by the parties involved in the process, including the wind farm.
“The Health Canada Study and World Health Organization guidelines do not support NTW’s request for a 45-decibel regulatory limit, but rather a regulatory noise limit between 40 and 42 decibels as recommended by DPS Staff throughout the proceeding,” the staff document said in response to Number Three Wind’s rebuttal on recommended changes to noise standards.
The public service staff disputed the company’s interpretation of the Canadian study used as rational for the 45-decibel limit because the study specifically connected “annoyance,” which impacts health, with wind turbine noise.
The public service document frequently referred to the wind farm’s assertions as “exaggerated” and “inflated,” especially relating to requirements to calculate the “cumulative” sound impact of its proposed turbines with the existing Copenhagen and Maple Ridge facilities in the areas of overlap rather than just on their own.
“The only thing needed is siting new projects at a prudent distance from existing ones,” the document said, and would not, as Number Three predicted, “effectively prohibit the siting of new wind projects near existing ones.”
One of the three wind farms approved through Article 10 to date, Eight Point Wind LLC, was noted as having been approved using the 42-decibel standard.
Likewise with regard to service staff recommendations for bat species protection, the rebuttal document to Number Three’s arguments took exception to the wind farm’s language and assertions.
“The applicant repeats its prior arguments which grossly mischaracterize DPS staff’s review... and makes unfounded accusations of bad faith on the part of DPS Staff in a last-ditch effort to be provocative and walk-back an otherwise sound curtailment regime,” the document said.
Between “astronomical” dusk and dawn, when the sun’s “geometric center” is 18 degrees below and above the horizon, is the time frame Number Three offered to shut down its turbines to protect bats; however, bats don’t live on that measure, the service staff report stated.
In all three of the projects approved through the Article 10 process to date, including Cassadaga Wind LLC and Baron Winds LLC in addition to Eight Point, turbines are required to be still a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise.
Number Three also protested the letter of credit recommended for decommissioning costs when the project has run its course, preferring a salvage value re-estimated every five years to allow it to use its money for other projects, but based on Cassadaga which stated “risks should be born by the applicant not by the host community,” the staff stuck with the letter.
“A letter of credit, unlike other mechanisms, provides certainty and swift access to the funds in the event it becomes necessary... therefore, the public interest in setting appropriate financial security for the towns outweighs NTW’s interest in reducing its costs in what is presumably an otherwise profitable venture,” the Public Service staff said.
Number Three Wind is designed to consist of up to 31 turbines in the towns of Lowville and Harrisburg that will generate 105.8 megawatts of power. Turbines will be about 600 feet tall at the blade tip, compared to about 500 feet for the existing Copenhagen turbines and 400 feet for the older Maple Ridge turbines.
The Article 10 process was updated in 2011, and according to the siting board web page there are currently 46 projects, including 16 wind and 29 solar, at various stages in the process. All energy projects required to go through Article 10 will produce at least 25 megawatts of power.
This is the first north country project to complete the process.
The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 in the Department of Public Service’s Albany and New York City offices. The live webcast of the event may be viewed by the public at http://www.dps.ny.gov/webcasts.html.