For the second time in less than a year, a developer has pulled the plug on its plan to site wind turbines in the north country.
Apex Clean Energy withdrew its applications earlier this month for state permits to construct a 108-megawatt project on Galloo Island. In June, Avangrid Renewables canceled its North Ridge Wind Farm project in Hopkinton. There was vocal opposition to both proposals.
“Apex’s attorney, James A. Muscato II of Young/Sommer LLC, wrote in a letter to the Public Service Commission [Feb. 8] that the developer no longer intends to secure a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for its 108-megawatt project in the town of Hounsfield,” according to a story published Feb. 9 by the Watertown Daily Times. “Developers that want to build energy generation projects with a 25-megawatt nameplate capacity or more must earn certificates from the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment through the Article 10 review before they can begin construction. The energy firm, based in Charlottesville, Va., also withdrew its application from the Article VII review, which was required before it could construct a 30-mile transmission line that would transmit energy from the facility on the island in Lake Ontario to a substation in the city of Oswego.”
The Apex project had come under criticism due to some questionable decisions on the company’s part. It failed to disclose the existence of a bald eagle nest on Galloo in its application. But the company acknowledged under oath that the island caretaker made the firm aware of the nest in the spring of 2017.
Apex said that even after being made aware of the presence of the nest, it saw no “material reason” to update its application because it determined the nest was not being used for breeding. So it allowed its inaccurate statement to stand.
The state Department of Conservation, however, found evidence that the nest was used for breeding. DEC authorities said that Apex’s turbines may need to be relocated as a result.
In November, we argued on this page that the Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment should reject Apex’s application based on its deception regarding this issue. This was the position taken by John J. Culkin, supervisor of the town of Henderson; Claudia J. Maurer, a Henderson resident who owns property on the neighboring Stony Island; and Clifford P. Schneider, a Wellesley Island resident and former DEC wildlife biologist.
So given that it wasn’t acting in good faith, Apex was correct to withdraw its project. And the opposition mounted by residents against this proposal surely played a factor in the firm’s decision to call it quits.
There are valid reasons to question the practicality of industrial wind projects, and we’ve documented the major issues over the past few years. One of our biggest concerns has been the cumulative effect that numerous wind turbines have on radar capabilities for Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum and the Montague Weather Station.
In addition, wind projects are not effective tools for economic development. They require large amounts of space but create few local jobs. And energy companies seek endless tax breaks for their turbines, shortchanging governmental entities of the taxes they could receive with firms that engage in commerce.
Residents need to know the positive difference they make when they object to wind projects. The fact that two firms have abandoned their proposals in Northern New York within the past eight months should encourage them to keep up the struggle.