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Town of Somerset seeks state rejection of document in company’s wind power application

SOMERSET – The attorney for the Town of Somerset has asked the state Public Service Commission to throw out a key document filed by the promoters of a proposed wind power project, contending that it lacks necessary information.

Former state Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco, who was hired to fight the project, said in his letter to the commission that the preliminary scoping statement filed by Apex Clean Energy and its subsidiary, Lighthouse Wind, should be rejected for not listing the number, size, generating capacity or location of the planned wind turbines.

The company responded that it provided exactly what was needed in a preliminary statement and that the details will come later.

Vacco’s letter contended that previous wind applicants have supplied much more detail than Apex did in the preliminary scoping statement.

“This siting process cannot be allowed to continue while Apex pursues a strategy of concealing the actual location of the windmills, facilities and land that is currently under lease,” Vacco wrote.

He said the town can’t tell where the potential risks are without that information.

“For example, Somerset might prefer to advance a study related to the toxicity and effects of concrete if the towers are built in agricultural locations of the project area. However, if the towers are to be built on the Lake Ontario shore, Somerset may prefer to seek intervenor funding for property value, avian and health experts,” Vacco wrote.

It’s not up to the town to approve the project. That job is given to a state siting board. The majority of the board’s members are state officials, and all are chosen in Albany.

“We believe we are following the statute and its intentions, as described in guidance from the PSC,” said Dahvi Wilson, spokeswoman for Apex.

She said the purpose of the preliminary statement is to “define the full suite of studies that must be completed in the design and siting of a proposed wind energy project.”

She said Apex, “as a responsible wind energy developer,” would not design the project before the studies were completed.

The company has said previously that it intends to erect 60 to 70 wind turbines in Somerset and the neighboring Orleans County Town of Yates. They are to stand 290 to 300 feet from the ground to the hub of the propeller, with the length of the blades bringing the height to a maximum of 590 to 620 feet, company officials said after a presentation to the Niagara County Board of Health on Dec. 3.