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Cohocton project online?

Project online despite report from grid operator

Cohocton, NY - Despite reports from the operator of the state’s power grid, the 50-turbine project in Cohocton is online.

The New York Independent System Operator, the not-for-profit organization that runs the state’s power grid, stated Friday the 125 megawatt project in Cohocton was not operational, a claim refuted by town officials and later by NYISO itself.

Kenneth M. Klapp, the senior communications and media relations specialist with NYISO, Monday said the information provided by his own agency Friday was incorrect.

“Unfortunately, you were given information on the status of another wind project in Steuben County, which has been proposed for interconnection to the grid,” he said. “In answer to your original question, both phases of the 125 MW wind project in Steuben County (known as Cohocton Wind and operated by First Wind) are currently in service.”

That comes in contrast to what officials at the organization had said previously.

Richard Barlette, manager of government affairs for NYISO, said Friday no power generated at the site has been sold for consumption. “They’re currently under the connection process,” he said at the time. “As far as ‘flipping the switch,’ a ball park figure is December 2010.”

Others contacting NYISO had received similar information, including U.S. Rep. Eric Massa, D-29, who responded to the mistake during a press conference call this morning. “What you’re saying is it’s hard to get a straight answer out of anybody,” Massa said. “There is a lot of misinformation out there.” Massa added much work is left to do on the project, including sound studies that were the topic of discussion at a Cohocton town board meeting Monday night.

Jack Zigenfus, town supervisor in Cohocton, provided The Evening Tribune with a spreadsheet from NYISO showing the project was in service as of the most-recent update of the document, recorded as Feb. 5.

Cohocton officials applauded First Wind for “throwing the switch” on the 50-turbine wind energy development in December, while according to John Lamontagne, director of corporate communications for First Wind, the project was believed to be up and running in 2008. “The time frame was to be by the end of the year,” he said in a Dec. 16, 2008 phone interview.

According to company officials in 2007 — when the company was known as UPC Wind — the project was expected to be up and running about a year after construction began.

Dirt first started moving on the project Sept. 18, 2007, with tower construction commencing in November. Work on the first two towers, complete with turbine blades, was finished Jan. 3. Of the 50 towers, 47 are spread across Lent, Pine and Dutch hills, dominating much of the view around Cohocton, North Cohocton and Atlanta. The three remaining turbines are on Brown Hill to the south of the village, where the project connects to the regional energy grid.

First Wind officials did not immediately return a call requesting a comment.

By Bob Clark, The Hornell Evening Tribune

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