New York Attorney General announces 17 wind developers sign new code of conduct

After months’ long discussions with New York’s wind industry, New York State Attorney General announced that the great majority of wind developers in the state have embraced a new and improved Code of Conduct aimed ostensibly at bringing transparency to the wind development industry. From the press release:

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that 16 companies [17 as of later in the day as Reunion also signed on] representing the vast majority of wind energy activity in New York state (more than 90 percent) have signed his Wind Industry Ethics Code, facilitating the development of renewable energy while helping assure that the industry is acting properly and within the law. The Code calls for oversight through an advisory Task Force and unprecedented transparency that will deter improper relationships between wind development companies and local government officials…

The signatory companies are:

  • Acciona Wind Energy USA, LLC
  • BP Wind Energy North America, Inc.
  • Ecogen Wind, LLC
  • E.on Climate and Renewables North America, Inc.
  • Everpower Wind Holdings, Inc.
  • First Wind (formerly known as UPC Wind)
  • Horizon Wind Energy, LLC
  • Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
  • Invenergy Wind Development, LLC
  • Noble Environmental Power, LLC
  • Northwind & Power, LLC
  • Pattern Energy Group Holdings
  • Penn Energy Trust, LLC
  • Shell WindEnergy, Inc.
  • Sustainable Energy Trust, Inc.
  • Upstate NY Power Corp.

Noble and First Wind had signed on to the Attorney General’s version 1.0 of the wind code of conduct, after being investigated for alleged improper activities. Version 1.0 was criticized as a fairly blunt instrument.

Arms apparently twisted, Reunion Power signed late in the day, only after the AG subpoenaed the company (from the press release: “The Attorney General also announced that as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of improper dealings, his office issued a subpoena to Reunion Power, which has potential wind farm development in Otsego, Schoharie and Warren Counties, and has not agreed to sign the Code.”)

Carol E. Murphy, head of the Alliance for Clean Energy, instrumental in seeing the new version through, said:

This set of guidelines incorporates best industry practices and sets a new standard of transparency and public integrity that goes far beyond existing state law and what other industries must comply with. ACE NY is hopeful that this public commitment to transparency will be a standard for all sectors engaging in development of New York State’s resources while enabling project development and investment to move forward…

Here for version 2.0 of New York’s wind industry Code_Conduct.

New York wind energy developments 7/30

Altona wind farm (7/24) reports on Horizon Wind’s project.

Cape Vincent wind farm

Watertown Daily Times (7/23) reports that BP Alternative Energy will present the siting of its 95-turbine wind project in Cape Vincent (Jefferson County).

Cattaraugus County discusses lawyer fees

The Buffalo News (7/21) reports that the county legislature is determining whether to spend $25,000 on lawyers fees to review and negotiate payment in lieu of taxes agreements with wind developers. More reports on 7/25.

Charlotte zoning includes wind provisions

Observer Today (7/27) reports on the Town of Charlotte (Chautauqua County) passing a zoning law including wind provisions.

Evans NY wind law on hold

Buffalo News (7/19) reports on decision of Evans (Erie County) Town Board to delay discussion of wind energy law affecting residential and commercial projects. More reports from The Sun (7/24).

Hanover wind law

Buffalo News (7/29) reports that the Hanover (Chautauqua County) Town Board approved a new wind law.

Hartsville wind project advances

The Evening Tribune (7/26) reports that E.On (successor to Airtricity) is moving ahead with a Hartsville (Steuben County) project of some 33 to 46 turbines.

Horse Creek Wind Farm

Watertown Daily Times (7/24) reports on concerns raised by residents of the Town of Clayton (Jefferson County) regarding potential water contamination.

Iberdrola-Energy East

Albany Times Union (7/25) reports that Iberdrola requested July 14 that the New York Public Service hold a special meeting to vote on Iberdrola’s proposed acquisition of Energy East.

Portland PILOT and wind law

The Observer (7/21) reports on developments in the Town of Portland (Chautauqua County) relating to a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement. Separately, the Observer (7/21) reported on the presentation to the Town Board of a proposed wind law.

Richmondville ZBA approves extension permit for met tower

The Schenectady Daily Gazette (7/23) reports that the Town of Richmondville (Schoharie County)  Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to approve a one-year extension of the permit allowing Reunion Power to site a meteorological tower in the Town.

Ripley-Westfield wind farm draft scope available

The draft environmental scoping document for the Ripley-Westfield (Chautauqua County) Wind Farm is available here. The Westfield Republican (7/24) reports that comments on same are due by August 8.

Tompkins County wind developments

Ithaca Journal (7/28) reports on multiple zoning initiatives, in Enfield, Ithaca and Newfield (6 month moratorium)

Wind siting challenges across NYS

The Press & Sun Bulletin (7/24) describes a variety of local projects and potential conflicts of interest.

New York wind projects

Iberdrola-Energy East

Buffalo News reports June 29 on the likelihood of the proposed Iberdrola-Energy East transaction gaining New York Public Service Commission (PSC) approval (with a vote due potentially July 16, though August appears to be more likely). Notable quote from Iberdrola’s Pedro Azagra:

We believe in predictable and consistent regulation. If those things are not there, there are many other states and countries where it is. If you’re in a state where regulation is not predictable, we’re out of there.

Separately, a variety of outlets (Newsday, Albany Times Union, Ithaca Journal, Business Review) reported that staff of the NY PSC appear to be lessening their demands of Iberdrola to consummate the Energy East acquisition. Willing to permit some ownership of wind generation assets, staff is now insisting that Iberdrola be compelled to make good on its $2 billion investment promise, with penalties for failure to invest the money in New York. The staff in its filing stated

Nonetheless, in the event that the Commission decides approval of the transaction is warranted upon less than tangible monetary benefits in the amount of Staff’s $644 million, or that Iberdrola may own wind generation facilities if vertical market power impacts are mitigated, Staff presents alternatives to the positions it took earlier in this proceeding.

The $2.0 billion investment Iberdrola proposes, and the amount of tangible monetary benefits it must provide ratepayers, can be linked. If Iberdrola commits to the development of wind projects in New York the investments it promises, the amount of the monetary benefits due ratepayers could be reduced. If Iberdrola fails to keep it wind investment promises, however, substantial monetary benefits, in the form of rate reductions, should accrue to NYSEG and RG&E ratepayers.

The Times Union reported that Iberdrola discounted the new staff proposal:

“The PSC staff has not changed its position at all,” said an Iberdrola spokesman. “They make it clear, they still prefer prohibition.” He said Iberdrola believes the alternatives “do not make sense.”

The PSC staff’s latest filing in the Iberdrola-Energy East case may be found on the NY PSC website.

Cape Vincent wind

Watertown Daily Times reports that a group opposed to industrial wind development in the Town of Cape Vincent (Jefferson County) has appealed an appeal judge’s decision to not allow certain documents in the group’s March 2007 Article 78 challenge against the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The challenge seeks to undo the ZBA’s determination that an industrial wind farm is a public utility under New York law. Such a ruling is advantageous to wind developers as public utilities can be subject to reduced requirements under local zoning laws. The anti-wind group has appealed a lower court’s ruling against it.

First Wind in Prattsburgh

WETMTV online reports on the unsuccessful attempts of landowners to use the courts to prevent First Wind from laying necessary transmission lines for its Prattsburgh project.

NYRI transmission project

The Utica Observer-Dispatch published June 29 a point-counterpoint relating to the proposed New York Regional Interneconnect (NYRI), a 190-mile, 1200 megawatt electrical transmission line from upstate (Marcy) to downstate (New Windsor).

Reunion Power in Richmondville

The Daily Gazette of Schenectady reported July 1 that the Zoning Board of Appeals of Richmondville has decided not to decide yet on whether to grant a one-year extension of Reunion Power’s permit to site a meteorological tower in the town. The company has reportedly sited another met tower just a few miles away.

Spafford Wind Turbine Law

CNYLINK reports that the Town of Spafford in New York’s Finger Lakes region is considering a wind turbine law.

Links in this entry

Digg this article

Assorted NY wind projects underway or proposed (as reported recently in local press)

As reported recently:

Gallatin wind project

Article describing zoning, community challenges faced by a farmer attempting to erect a 135-foot 20kW turbine in Gallatin (Columbia County).

Arkwright wind

Horizon Wind Energy installing more meteorological towers in Arkwright (Chautauqua County) and dealing with escrow issue.

Westfield wind

Babcock and Brown submits Special Use Permit application in the Town of Westfield (also Chautauqua County) for up to 83 different turbine sites. More information here.

Richmondville wind

Reunion Power before the ZBA in Richmondville (Schoharie County)

Frankfort small wind

Small Empire Wind project proposal in the village of Frankfort (Herkimer County)

Links in this entry

Reunion Power in Richmondville NY

Reunion Power is scheduled to be up before the Town of Richmondville Zoning Board of Appeals on May 6, 2008. According to the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, the issue involves the continued siting of a meteorological tower used to study the area’s wind resources.

Additional background may also be found here. []