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State: BP public involvement plan for Cape Vincent wind project is ‘inadequate’

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CAPE VINCENT — The state Public Service Commission has rejected BP Wind Energy’s public involvement program plan for the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm.

In a letter Wednesday, the state agency asked the company to broaden its outreach efforts and submit a revised plan.

“The plan does not adequately address many measures appropriate to a robust public involvement program,” the commission told BP. “The proposal concentrates to a large extent on those past outreach efforts, in the past two to seven years, rather than demonstrating how the applicant will elicit input from stakeholders for development of the revised, consolidated project.”

Earlier this year, BP acquired Acciona Wind Energy USA’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm and is planning a project that would generate up to 285 megawatts of electricity.

Initially, both projects were considered under Cape Vincent’s zoning laws, but BP decided to seek speedier approval of its project by asking a state siting board to consider the consolidated project under Article X.

Article X of the 2011 Power NY Act expedites the approval process of electric-generating facilities of 25 megawatts or higher and gives a state siting board the authority to override local zoning laws.

On Sept. 17, BP submitted its public involvement plan for community outreach to the state energy siting board, which is the first step in the process.

Cape Vincent officials have long criticized BP’s lack of communication between the local representatives and stakeholders who do not have a wind lease with the developer.

In response, Richard F. Chandler, director of business development for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm, has scheduled a meeting next week with local town and Planning Board representatives from Cape Vincent and Lyme.

While the public is not allowed to participate in the discussions at the open meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Recreation Park on James Street, anti-wind residents and Article X protesters are planning a rally at 3:30 p.m., before the meeting.

The Public Service Commission told BP that it should not limit its efforts in soliciting input to a set of “narrow issues,” and should submit newer study reports that are site-specific instead of the “general” and “somewhat dated” documents it has provided.

The state agency also asked the developer to expand its study area to adjacent municipalities, including the town of Clayton and Wolfe Island, Ontario.

Representatives and residents of these neighboring communities “should be considered as potential stakeholders based on regional scale impacts of the proposed large-scale wind energy project,” PSC’s letter said.

The letter also said BP’s list of stakeholders should include the state Department of State’s Coastal Management Program staff, since the project would involve coastal zone resources — such as the Chaumont River area, which is in the proposed route of a transmission line connecting the wind farm to a substation in the town of Lyme.

Additionally, BP was asked to publish a tentative schedule for both public meetings and filings for its project application under Article X. This information should be made public online on the project website, in newsletters and at public workshops or open house meetings, the PSC said.

The company now has a month to consider the state’s recommendations and file a final public involvement program plan that explains how it has incorporated the recommendations or provides explanations if it decides not to.

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