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Cape Vincent wind projects merge; BP taking over Acciona’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm

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CAPE VINCENT — The two wind projects proposed in Cape Vincent are merging into one.

Peter A. Gross, the Cape Vincent Wind Farm’s project manager, said Thursday that BP Wind Energy closed a deal to take over Acciona Wind Energy USA’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm project.

“The deal is closed,” Mr. Gross said. “We are now the owners of substantially all of the assets that were owned by the St. Lawrence Wind Farm. And now we’re in the process of figuring out how to best merge these assets together.”

While the exact size of the combined project and turbine configurations are yet to be determined, under BP’s preliminary plans, the “expanded” Cape Vincent Wind Farm would produce approximately 200 megawatts and will require more than $300 million in capital investment.

Before the merger, Cape Vincent Wind was a 134-megawatt project with 84 turbines and Acciona planned for a smaller 51-turbine, 76.5-megawatt facility.

Timothy Q. Conboy, project manager for St. Lawrence Wind, said the two entities, which already had been working together on a shared power grid, ultimately determined there would be “significant benefits” if the projects were combined.

Both Mr. Gross and Mr. Conboy, however, declined to discuss the terms of the agreement — such as how much the acquisition cost BP.

“The discussions began in 2011 and it just became clear that there would be significant benefits if there was one owner for these projects,” Mr. Conboy said. “BP had a greater interest in taking over the combined projects and we’re working closely with them on the transition process.”

Mr. Gross said BP believed the move would allow it “to reduce the social and environmental impacts,” make the project more competitive in the power markets and allow the company to be more flexible in developing a project that “generates significant economic benefits” to the community.

“There are some obvious savings. If you have two projects, there needs to be two substations. That no longer is the case. And now there’s only a need for one transmission line circuit instead of two. That’s less environmental impact. And there are a lot of efficiencies like that to be had.”

According to BP, the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm would create 250 to 300 jobs at the peak of construction and as many as 15 permanent jobs for the monitoring and maintenance of the facility.

The wind project is also expected to bring an additional $1.7 million per year to be divided among the school districts, the town of Cape Vincent and Jefferson County based on a payment-in-lieu-of-tax structure in the county.

“We think having one point of contact for everybody is the best way to find a way to make those benefits become reality,” Mr. Gross said.

Regarding the issue of lease holders seeking to build personal turbines on their land, Mr. Gross said “there are some restrictions but they’re not things that we wouldn’t work best to work around.”

“There are certain setbacks for construction around our turbines but by in large those aren’t prohibitive to other activities,” he said. “We don’t want to take away options or opportunities from the landowners. We want this project to be an additional opportunity for them.”

When asked if BP would submit an application to the state to consider under Article X if the town of Cape Vincent adopts a stricter set of zoning laws on wind development in the coming months, Mr. Gross said the two parties “structured this transaction in a manner that preserves all of our permitting options.”

On Tuesday, Cape Vincent’s Town Council enacted a seven-month moratorium on wind-power development — personal and commercial — while it puts together a new, and most likely stricter, wind law.

Town Supervisor Urban C. Hirschey did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

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