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CPA to Host Meeting


Meeting on wind turbines in the works

South Bristol, NY — A coalition of groups concerned with industrial wind turbine development in the Finger Lakes region will bring together state and federal elected officials at a conference next month at Bristol Harbour Resort. Hosting the event will be Naples Town Supervisor Frank Duserick, with U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-Corning, as keynote speaker.

“We want a sane, rational energy policy,” said James Hall, a Cohocton resident with the event’s sponsor, Citizen Power Alliance. The alliance works to hold public officials and regulators accountable, while seeking to protect the public interest.

The goal of the invitation-only event is to get all the elected officials representing the region in the same room, he said, to discuss the effects of wind turbines, share insights regarding current regulations and offer recommendations for federal and state policies.

“These alternative-energy projects would not exist without federal and state government,” said Hall, referring to government subsidies. For example, he said, the company that put up wind turbines in Cohocton, south of Naples, received a cash grant of nearly $75 million in federal stimulus funds. Fifty turbines in Cohocton became operational last year.

Two other neighboring towns, Prattsburgh and Italy, are in disputes with wind turbine companies. In Prattsburgh, wind farm issues are back to square one. The Town Board earlier this month rescinded a legal settlement with wind farm developer Ecogen Wind LLC and took the first step toward enacting a moratorium on any wind farm-related development for six months.

In Italy, the Town Board late last year rejected an application by Ecogen to erect 17 turbines. Ecogen responded by filing an Article 78 action in state Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the board’s decision to stop the project by denying approvals and placing a moratorium on its development.

Hall said an attorney will also speak at the Feb. 16 conference, addressing legal issues with turbines. “There is an attempt to iron out realistic, protective laws that make sense,” said Hall.

By Julie Sherwood, staff writer, Messenger Post

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First Wind Quits Prattsburgh

Wind Developer calls it quits in Prattsburgh

Prattsburgh, NY - One of two potential wind farm developers in the town of Prattsburgh announced Friday it is abandoning plans to put up nearly 50 turbines in the town.
First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne said lease holders for potential turbine sites have been notified of the firm’s decision, made at the end of December.

Lamontagne said First Wind’s decision to pull out was made after a careful, internal review of pending, “viable” projects. “We appreciate the support – and there was a lot of support – from the people in Prattsburgh,” Lamontagne said.

First Wind also drew a fair share of critics, particularly after it launched eminent domain procedures via a divided town board. Plagued by the economic downturn during the summer and fall of 2008, the developer announced a yearlong hiatus in 2009, in order to reassess its projects.

First Wind intends to pursue projects this year in Maine, Vermont, Utah and Hawaii, but remains committed to its projects in the town of Cohocton and Lackawanna, Lamontagne said.
He did not rule out the possibility of future development in Prattsburgh, “but we’d be back starting at ground zero, so it would be pretty difficult.”

Lamontagne said the decision to leave was not influenced by the disputes that erupted last year between second developer Ecogen, town residents, and some town board members. The disputes -- which were driven in part over concerns about excessive noise at First Wind’s operating wind farm in Cohocton -- led to angry charges from both sides, unseated two pro-wind board members in November and resulted in a flurry of lawsuits.

The new town board is now considering a six-month moratorium in order to review its comprehensive plan and possibly set up a zoning board.

Town Councilman Steve Kula wondered if the move would benefit the Ecogen project. “Does this open up more land, to identify possibly new sites for Ecogen?” he asked.

Kula has advocated for greater setbacks than those currently in place to ensure residents’ health and safety. “Before, you had two projects squeezed into one small town. First Wind had 50 (turbines),” Kula said. “Now you’ll have one project and more land. I don’t know. But maybe.”

Supervisor Al Wordingham said a First Wind representative left a message, but so far he has not spoken with the developer’s agent. “All I can say is, after the experience they had in Cohocton, which is less densely populated than Prattsburgh, maybe they just decided this is not a suitable place for any wind farm,” Wordingham said.

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Legal Duel in Prattsburg


Judge won't OK Steuben wind-energy project, but it goes ahead anyway

A mid-December vote by a Steuben County Town Board that allows a controversial wind-energy project to go forward will stand, for now, without a judicial stamp of approval.

In a ruling released this morning, state Supreme Court Justice Stephen Lindley declined to give his legal imprimatur to a 3-to-2 vote by the Prattsburgh Town Board in favor of a legal settlement with Ecogen Wind LLC.

Buffalo-area Ecogen had sued the board in November to force approval of a 16-turbine wind farm in the hilly Steuben County town. The company has said it spent $13 million on studies, legal fees and other expenses related to the project, which also would feature 17 more 415-foot-high turbines in the neighboring town of Italy, Yates County.

Ecogen brought suit against Prattsburgh shortly after the Nov. 3 townwide election, in which voters chose a new supervisor and a new board member, both of whom are openly skeptical about the Ecogen project.

The company apparently feared that the new board, once seated this month, would kill the project, and it sued preemptively so that pro-wind town lawmakers would have an opportunity to approve a settlement before two of them left office. The terms of the settlement allowed the project to go forward unfettered.

Two wind skeptics already on the board unsuccessfully sought to persuade Lindley not block the lame-duck board from settling the lawsuit. At the same time, Ecogen’s lawyers asked Lindley to give his approval to the settlement, presumably so that it would be more difficult for the new board to overturn.

Lindley said in his ruling, however, that it was “unnecessary and superfluous” for him to approve the settlement. He also said in his ruling that he was not disapproving it, either, and said the question of whether the mid-December vote was proper had not been put before him.

The Prattsburgh board, which now splits 4-to-1 against the Ecogen project, is scheduled to meet this evening.

“I guess that’s a good thing,” said Steve Kula, a wind-skeptic board member, referring to Lindley’s refusal to approve the settlement. “But it sounds like there’s a lot that’s open-ended at this point.”

Kula said he expected the board would begin working on a wind-turbine moratorium in the town and “trying to unwind the position of the previous board.”

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