New York appeals court rejects Prattsburgh condemnation challenge

In a Memorandum and Order, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division-Fourth Department rejected a challenge by petitioners to overturn a decision by the Town of Prattsburgh to condemn land for the purpose of creating easements to bury underground power lines for a wind farm.

The case was brought under New York State Eminent Domain Procedure Law (EDPL) s. 207. Petitioners had challenged the Town Board’s decision to condemn the land claiming, among other things, that the Town Supervisor was impermissibly conflicted from voting on the issue. The court noted that the challengers should have brought that claim under Article 78 of New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR).

The court found that the “petitioners failed to meet their burden of establishing that the Town Board’s determination was ‘without foundation and baseless'” [ciations omitted], and stated that:

Contrary to the contention of petitioners, a town board’s findings that condemnation for the purpose of creating easements would, inter alia, “create jobs, provide infrastructure, and possibly stimulate new private sector economic development” constitute an adequate basis for the town board’s determination that the condemnation would serve a public use or benefit. [citations omitted]

The case, In re Dudley et al v. Town Board of Town of Prattsburgh (1708 OP 08-01586, Feb. 6, 2009), is online here.

New York wind power updates

According to recent press reports and releases:

First Wind scraps project in Town of Attica (Wyoming County) due to lack of wind, postpones Town of Prattsburgh (Steuben County) project due to lack of dinero. Buffalo News, 12/10. See also Corning Leader, 12/9, on Prattsburgh project.

Noble Environmental Power brings Clinton and Ellenburg (Clinton County) windparks back online after substation expansion. The company indicates that it:

remains dedicated to further construction and development in New York including completing the construction of the Noble Bellmont Windpark in Franklin County. However, given the continued state of uncertainty in the financial markets, the company is unable to speculate on its 2009 construction and development plans.

Noble Environmental Power, 12/4

First Wind to pay more than $1.1M to repair roads damaged during construction of Cohocton (Steuben County) wind project. Corning Leader, 12/7

Farmers in the Town of Mexico (Oswego County) learn about renewable energy alternatives, including wind, thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension. [Full disclosure: this blogger is a Cornell graduate. Go Big Red Hockey!]

Wind energy conversion system ordinances from the towns of Napoli and Perrysburg were to be reviewed by the Cattaraugus County Planning Board on December 11. Buffalo News, 12/8

BP Alternative Energy urges Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to finalize payment in lieue of taxes (PILOT) policy. Watertown Daily Times, 12/5

Patterson, New York wind company, BQ Energy, considers project in Nikiski, Alaska. If you happen to drive to Nikiski from Patterson, you’ll be on the Alaska Highway for over 1000 miles, after you’ve already driven about 3500 miles. Peninsula Clarion, 12/8

Per the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, “ConEdison, the main utility provider for New York City and Westchester County, filed [with the New York State Public Service Commission or PSC] proposed changes to its net metering tariff which would eliminate a site study requirement for systems up to 200 kW.”

New York wind developments

Cattaraugus County seeks to preempt alternative energy tax breaks

The Buffalo News reports (9/6) on an effort by county legislators to preempt state tax breaks for alternative energy projects.

Cattaraugus County lawmakers rallied this week in support of a local law that would pre-empt the state’s automatic property tax exemptions for new wind power plants, solar energy systems and farm methane waste digesters.

Galloo Wind transmission lines to be underground?

The Watertown Daily Times (9/8) reports on an effort by Ellisburg (Jefferson County) to require the burying of transmission lines that would deliver to the grid electricity produced by the proposed Galloo Island wind farm.

A proposed local law to require new electric transmission lines to be buried will have a public hearing at 8 p.m. Oct. 2, the next Town Council meeting.

The council did not vote on the measure at its meeting Thursday night because the proposed zoning law amendment has not yet had a public hearing.

“I hope you realize how serious we are on this proposal,” said Daniel L. Rossiter, an Ellisburg farmer and proponent of the proposed law. “The proposal provides ou

Prattsburgh (Steuben County) wind project in court

Per WETM-TV (9/5), oral argument occurred in a lawsuit challenging the Prattsburgh (First Wind) wind project.

Friday lawyers for people opposed to the eminent domain proceedings went before a judge to try to stop it. Their lawsuit says the town supervisor, whose vote allowed the project to go forward has a conflict of interest, because he helped First Wind buy some land.

Utica newspaper calls for New York state zoning guidance

In light of state attorney general investigations into allegations of undue influence or potential corruption in the wind energy siting process, in an editorial the Utica Observer-Dispatch (9/8) called on state officials to step in to provide guidance to local officials. The state has been less involved in the siting process since the state’s Article X law expired more than five years ago.

Nothing damages the public’s trust in government more than the possibility that elected and appointed officials are benefiting personally from government action….The state must investigate all such conflicts to see if wrongdoing occurred. Local officials must act in a manner beyond reproach by turning down all entreaties from private wind-turbine developers dangling lucrative lease deals in front of them. And the governor, state Legislature and attorney general must study this entire approval process so that localities have clear guidelines within which to operate.