Towns’ regulation of wind in New York

From recent press reports:

Oneida-based Empire State Wind Energy discusses potential wind energy project in Town of Alfred (Allegany County). Evening Tribune, 11/18

The Town of Berne (Albany County) is considering a wind development moratorium. Albany Times Union 11/19

Town of Farmersville (Cattaraugus County) updates wind regulations, eliminates moratorium. The Town has reportedly been approached by Noble Environmental Power to site a 67-turbine facility. Buffalo News, 11/18 But Noble’s projects in the towns of Farmersville and Freedom (Cattaraugus County) may be delayed by economic climate. Buffalo News, 11/20

At a community forum in Irondequoit, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo indicated that his office was looking into concerns regarding the manner in which a local wind law in the Town of Hamlin was passed. Rochester City Paper, 11/19

Herkimer County Legislature defines what it wants from PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements from wind developers. Utica Observer-Dispatch, 11/18; Herkimer Telegram, 11/18

New New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and CEO Richard Kessel met with Buffalo area leaders to discuss plans to bolster the upstate economy:

To do so, NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Kessel said, would include use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and transmitting hydropower from Canada, which then would be redistributed. ‘Nothing is more important than transmission, it’s the name of the game,’ Kessel said, adding, ‘New York state is like a human body with arteries and veins, with nothing connected to the heart.’ Buffalo News, 11/17.

See also Lockport Journal, 11/20

Centerville, New York wind law invalidated

Summary of CENTERVILLE’S CONCERNED CITIZENS v TOWN BOARD OF TOWN OF CENTERVILLE (CA 08-00282, Memorandum and Order, 11/14/208)

The group “Centerville’s Concerned Citizens” won an appeal at the Appellate Divison of the Fourth Judicial Department and obtained the invalidation of a local law (Town of Centerville Local Law No. 1 of 2006) regulating the siting of wind energy facilities.

In promulgating the local law, the court found that the Town of Centerville (Allegany County) failed to follow appropriate procedure under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

At issue was whether the type of SEQRA action under consideration was unlisted, Type I, or Type II. The Town determined that it was an unlisted action, and used a short environmental assessment form to issue a “negative declaration”, that is, that the Local Law would not have a significant impact on the environment.

The appeals court indicated that the action under consideration (a local law affecting zoning issues in the entire town) squarely fell under one of the definitions of a Type I action (“the adoption of changes in the allowable uses within any zoning district, affecting 25 or more acres of the district”), and so a long environmental assessment form should have been completed. Because the short form was used, and not the long form, the SEQRA process was faulty. The faulty process negated the SEQRA process. Because the SEQRA process was null, the underlying Local Law was not appropriately promulgated.

The court thereby invalidated the law because of the faulty process. Strict compliance with SEQRA, the court indicated, is required.

Message to New York towns? Follow process. And what will happen now? One can imagine that the Town may pass a new (or even the same) local law, rigorously adhering to SEQRA process. Perhaps ironically, as a consequence of the court’s decision the town is left with no law in place, a situation that from the standpoint of plaintiffs is doubtfully beneficial. Noble Environmental Power is reportedly interested in developing a site in the town.

The brief decision in CENTERVILLE’S CONCERNED CITIZENS v TOWN BOARD OF TOWN OF CENTERVILLE may be found here.

Information on the decision may also be found in the Buffalo News, 11/18, and the Olean Times Herald 11/19

New York wind updates

More zoning challenges across the state described in local papers.

Allegany and Olean (Cattaraugus County) wind project review

Town Board in preliminary stages of reviewing Everpower wind project. Olean Times Herald 10/30. Allegany County Industrial development Agency discusses potential role, PILOT agreement with residents in Centerville. Olean Times Herald 10/31.

Cape Vincent (Jefferson County) wind zoning

Committee examining wind farm amendments to zoning seeks more data, focuses on sound, setbacks. Watertown Daily Times, 11/1

Warren (Herkimer County) wind environmental review

Warren Town Board sets meeting date of November 10 to review supplemental environmental impact statement for the Jordanville project. Richfield Springs Mercury 10/30. See also Freeman’s Journal 10/26.

Attorney General’s wind code of conduct

In an editorial, the Watertown Daily Times (11/1) welcomed Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s voluntary code of conduct and encouraged wind developers doing business in Jefferson County to sign on.

New York PSC to hold public hearing in Arcade about transmission line

The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) announced that it will hold a public hearing on October 28, 2008 in the Village of Arcade to discuss a proposed transmission line between Centerville (Allegany County) and Yorkshire (Cattaraugus County) that would carry electricity generated from wind power facilities in Allegany County:

The New York Public Service Commission will hold a public statement hearing concerning a proposal by the Village of Arcade and Noble Allegany Windpark, LLC to construct a new 115 kV electric transmission line from the Town of Centerville, Allegany County, to an existing line operated by National Grid in the Town of Yorkshire, Cattaraugus County. The line will be approximately 14 miles in length. Its purpose is to permit the delivery of power generated by the Allegany wind energy facility proposed to be built in the Towns of Centerville and Rushford in Allegany County…

See Docket No. 08-T-0746 at the New York PSC.