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Cape Vincent to send letter urging judge to kill BP application for wind farm

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CAPE VINCENT — Paul F. Aubertine, the lone Democrat seated on Town Council, was the only member who opposed a decision Thursday to urge a judge to kill BP Wind Energy’s application for the Cape Vincent Wind Farm project.

Town attorney Paul J. Curtin will draft a letter to Paul Agresta, the state Public Service Commission judge presiding over the Article X siting process for the BP project. During a December public hearing, Mr. Agresta established a deadline of March 17 for BP to sell its project to another wind developer. If a buyer were not found, Mr. Agresta decided, the PSC would reconvene to decide whether BP’s application should be dismissed.

In September, BP announced its plan to sell its whole wind development portfolio by the end of the year.

Mr. Curtin will write a letter contending that BP’s application should be dismissed because it has lingered too long without being sold, the board decided in a 4-1 vote. The intent of the letter will be to “push the process forward,” said Councilman Clifford P. Schneider, who introduced the proposal during the meeting.

“If BP isn’t going ahead with a new buyer, then we’re saying the judge should go ahead and dismiss the application,” he said.

Mr. Schneider then asked if board members had any concerns.

“I’d like to know what exactly you would want in that letter,” Mr. Aubertine said. “The question I have is, what’s the advantage of making this move before the 17th of March?”

“The idea is, should this go on without the town having the chance to bring the process to a close?” Mr. Schneider replied. “The point is that if this comes up again, then we have some direction to go on.”

Also responding to Mr. Aubertine, Councilman Brooks J. Bragdon said, “We have been involved on a great level, and to have us say nothing seems to be very inconsistent with the Article X rules.”

Councilman John L. Byrne III, of the same mind, argued that the town should attempt to end the Article X proceeding by sending the letter.

“I think it’s important to do this because the Article X process could go on for years, and the town could be held hostage,” he said.

Responding, Mr. Aubertine said, “I agree that, one way or the other, this can’t happen much longer. But I don’t understand the need to have our attorney write a letter.”

“Someone has to move to end this process and act for a motion to dismiss it,” Mr. Byrne claimed. “I think it would be wise for us to do it.”

Mr. Aubertine, in response, held his ground and contended that sending the letter would be taking an inappropriate action in advance of the judge’s decision.

“We can have this discussion and prepare for what might happen on the 17th, but in my opinion, I don’t think it’s necessary for the town board to take this action,” he said.

“And I respectfully disagree, and that’s the end of the discussion,” Mr. Bragdon, seated next to Mr. Aubertine, abruptly said.

A roll call vote was held without any further discussion.

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