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BP tests home rule over Cape Vincent wind project

BP Wind Energy
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Members of the Planning Board for the town of Cape Vincent and members of Lyme's Town Council have criticized company BP Wind Energy for not communicating over its plans for a $300 million industrial wind farm; Joanna Richards from North Country Public Radio updates the story.

After the energy company BP proposed a new wind project that would affect the Jefferson County towns of Cape Vincent and Lyme, the town of Cape Vincent passed strict new regulations for commercial wind turbines.
Now BP has begun seeking state review under the Article X law (part of the New York Power Bill passed in 2011). That process could bypass local laws, if they're deemed "unreasonable." The company has called a meeting with town officials, set for Tuesday night.

Town officials say they don't know exactly what to expect from the meeting. BP has had no contact with Cape Vincent officials for months. 

Credit Google Maps
Google Maps
Cape Vincent

Bob Brown co-chairs the town Planning Board, and says BP hasn't "shared anything with us ahead of time." But he says the town is considering this "a very, very, very significant meeting."

Cape Vincent town officials will be joined by the Lyme Town Council, since transmission lines for the proposed project would run through that town.

Article X requires BP to have a public involvement plan. But the state said the company didn't involve the public enough its first time around. Brown thinks the meeting Tuesday night is part of the company's efforts to revise that plan.

But Brown says town officials intend to use the meeting to send a clear message to BP: "Cape Vincent is not an appropriate place to have a large, industrial wind farm."

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the town's Recreation Hall on James Street. Officials predict a huge turnout.

*Article X (pron: 'ten') is a provision in the Power NY Act passed on August 4th,2011.

Under Article X, any electric generating facility having a capacity of 25 thousand kilowatts (or 25 MW) or more must submit an application for approval to a seven-member siting board appointed by the state legislature. The previous version of the law required only facilities sized 80 megawatts (80,000 KW) or larger to receive approval by a state siting board. While the new law will streamline the state’s decision-making process with respect to the construction and operation of new, modified, and repowered generating facilities, it effectively centralizes energy siting decisions by removing a certain amount of land use authority granted to local governments under home rule.

Taken from: Understanding Article X of the Power NY Act of 2011, Adam Blair, Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI), Cornell University, September 2011

North Country Public Radio/North Country Reporter for the Innovation Trail