Group Hires Legal Representation

CASSADAGA — Members of the group Concerned Citizens of Cassadaga Wind Project, acting as interveners, have hired environmental lawyer Gary Abraham, in their fight to try and stop the Cassadaga wind project.

Abraham said although the Siting Board is scheduled to make their final decision by mid-January, that decision isn’t necessarily going to be a black-and-white one; approve or disapprove.

“It’s more complicated than that,” Abraham said. “They could not allow it, they could decide not to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity, or they could issue the certificate with conditions and there are several conditions that are being proposed by the Public Service Commission’s own staff.”

Abraham said that some of the requirements the DEC is pondering are costly, including protecting bats and birds.

“They are also asking that they modify where the electrical lines are installed to avoid guide wires which take out agricultural land.”

Abraham said the certificate could be issued, but that the conditions included with the certificate might be deemed too costly, resulting in Everpower Wind Holdings Inc. abandoning the project.

“For example, the DPS, they have lots of experts and attorneys; they’re recommending that 12 turbines be removed from the project,” Abraham said.

“There’s a lot more to go because once the examiners issue their recommended decision, it doesn’t just go straight to the siting board. The parties can then file briefs on exemptions, which is really just a fancy way of saying pointing out places they think the examiners decision was an error. (It’s about) really trying to get the hearing examiners to reconsider (their recommendation), pointing them to something they might have missed in the record.

“There’s a round of that, then the hearing examiners respond. Then all of that, plus the record of everybody that’s on the docent sheet, all of that goes to the Siting Board.”

The recommendation, penned by presiding examiner Dakin Lecakes and associate examiner P. Nicholas Garlick make note that changes have already been made to the initial Cassadaga Wind application.

“As described in the application when Cassadaga Wind was proposing 58 turbines, the project included the construction of approximately 16.6 miles of access roads to access the turbine locations and approximately 29.2 miles of overhead and underground 34.5 kV collection lines interconnecting the turbine locations.

“These total impacts have been reduced by the reduction in the number of turbines. The Project still includes construction of a 5.5-mile above ground 115 kV generator lead line, a collection substation, a point of interconnection with the New York State electric grid through facilities owned and operated by Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation d/b/a National Grid, two permanent meteorological (met) towers, two temporary staging/laydown yards for construction, and an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) building.”

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