Earlier this month, energy company BP announced its entire renewables division was up for sale. At a recent public meeting on the proposed Cape Vincent Wind Farm, a BP official confirmed the company will push ahead with the development anyway, and local leaders vowed to hire experts to help them fight the project.
People at the meeting were eager to know what the sale of BP's renewables division might mean for the Cape Vincent project in Jefferson County. Richard Chandler is director of business development for BP Wind Energy North America. He told the small crowd assembled in a firehouse in Three Mile Bay that the company will move ahead with its plans, despite the sale offering.
“I don't think any of that changes anything for this project,” he said. “We'll continue to still invest in the project. We'll continue to still be committed to the project. The fact of the matter is, the project is a good project, whether it's owned by BP, or owned by someone who buys the business unit including this project.”
This most recent public session was part of the ongoing review of the wind farm required under Article X of the state’s Power Act. That process has angered many in the town of Cape Vincent, because it allows the state to supersede local communities' zoning regulations when it comes to the siting of power projects.
BP filed a document called a Preliminary Scoping Statement, or PSS, with the state at the end of March. That PSS describes the potential adverse impacts of the wind farm, identifies studies on those issues that need to be undertaken, and outlines mitigation efforts. This public meeting aimed to explain the contents of that document and inform the public on how to comment on it.
Along with filing the PSS, BP was required to put about $100,000 in funding into a special account. Municipalities and other interested parties can apply for funding to hire experts and conduct studies as part of the review process.
Clif Schneider is a Cape Vincent town councilman. He said the town intends to apply for some of that money, called “intervenor funds.”
“Basically, where we want some help and assistance from experts with intervenor funding is to support that part of the PSS that deals with local law. And we want people to come in and make a case for why the laws that we have in place are there and they're proper; they're not unduly burdensome. So we want some help from experts to help make that case,” Schneider said.
After a public comment period on the Preliminary Scoping Statement ends, BP will have time to respond. The next step in the Article X process for the company will be to apply for a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the wind farm, which it can file on or after June 29.
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